Mom’s Burgers and The Slaw Dogs. Photographs by Lisa Romerein
At this chili dog champ in the Crenshaw District, church leaders and hip-hop moguls hold court over spicy links doused in gloppy beef chili, chopped onions, and melted cheddar. We suspect that the “secret recipe” for the storied “pimp juice” is just fruit punch spiked with lemonade, but we love it anyway. » 3630 Crenshaw Blvd., L.A., 323-299-2867.
Unusual combos and kitschy monikers are the hallmarks of these wild, messy burgers: provolone, Canadian bacon, and pineapple on the Don Ho; cream cheese and jalapeños on what’s been dubbed the “Herve Villachez.” With its antler chandeliers and small but thoughtful beer list, the bar is as fun on Sunday afternoon as it is on Saturday night. » 410 Boyd St., downtown, 213-626-1800.
Grill ’Em All
A wizard beckons from the side of this heavy metal-themed food truck, where the burgers are fiendishly over the top. The Molly Hatchet is a patty dressed with fennel sausage gravy, bacon, and maple syrup. The buns for the Behemoth are grilled cheese sandwiches. PB&J meets sriracha on the Dee Snider. » grillemalltruck.com.
For heart-stopping indulgence, no one dishes it out like this roadside stop with the blue roof. The Colosso and Chronic burgers are (in)famous: The former buries the patty under a mountain of pink pastrami; the latter tops it with thick bacon, a fried egg, and American cheese. Moderation be damned. » 336 W. Alondra Blvd., Compton, 310-632-6622.
The Slaw Dogs
Eleven tube steak styles—including an all-beef footlong, a veggie dog, and a spicy Calabrese sausage—form the basis of a hot dog toppings bonanza. There are 60 options for customizing your, um, wiener, ranging from Thai slaw to kimchi to a fried egg. Or you can pick from such tried-and-true combos as the TNT Superdog with chili, bacon pastrami, and fries in a giant tortilla. » 720 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena, 626-808-9777.
If the burgers at this tiki-themed strip mall refuge taste gourmet, it’s because a former Spago and Ma Maison chef devised the recipes. The basic version is a quarter-pound Angus beef patty on a sweet Hawaiian-style bun, with iceberg lettuce, tomato, and a “secret spot sauce,” which resembles Thousand Island dressing. Except for the Kobe Kahuna, none of the burgers cost more than $8.50. » 1701 Ocean Park Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-450-5551.