What makes the best burger you ask? It’s not just what’s between the buns, it’s the whole experience, from walking into the restaurant to walking out the door rubbing your belly and inviting that ever-impending food coma for which you worked so hard. We scoured Orange County high and low to find that all-encompassing experience that delivers the best burger, urging you to keep coming back, each time more satisfied than the last. The best burger upholds quality, service, environment, accessibility and most importantly—taste. These luxury burgers we found around Orange County offered only the finest product provided by local bakeries, farmer’s markets and ranches that practice the highest of standards. That’s a lot to stack! Ultimately, one prevailed above them all, but each was a winner in their own right. No matter what part of OC you reside in, a trip to any of these locations is well worth it.

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Crow Burger Kitchen
3107 Newport Blvd
Newport Beach, CA 92663
949.673.brgr (2747)
www.CrowBurgerKitchen.com

WINNER: BEST BUNS!

At Crow Burger, I was served a hangover-style burger topped with crispy onion strings, a creamy fried hen’s egg and smoky bacon, all piled on top of a juicy, all-natural certified angus and prime beef patty, sandwiched between a densely delicious buttermilk bun. Hands down, this place had the best buns! They were pillowy soft on the inside and had a nice crust – all the way to the edges – on the outside, capturing each drip of juiciness from this luxury patty. As a side, I tried their grilled green been “fries” with an olive tapenade for dipping. The quality of the fresh, sustainable ingredients shine in Crow Burger’s crafty creations; and, they keep the crafty vibe going when it comes to their selection of beer on tap, too. Who doesn’t want a delicious burger and a cold beer when you’re by the beach?

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Karl Strauss Brewing Company
901 South Coast Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
714.546.2739
www.KarlStrauss.com

Shop your heart out at Metro Pointe at South Coast Plaza, and then stop by Karl Strauss for a burger and a beer, because you’ve earned it! This location has its own working brewery, too, so the beer you pick is made in house and only for this location. Check in to see what small-batch, limited release they have in store for you. If you can’t get enough while you’re there, then grab a growler and take some home with you. Growlers are perfect for those limited release brews, because it might not be available to order when you come back. I suggest the Tower 10 IPA to go along with the Big Beer Burger. Burger and Beer is the perfect marriage, and Karl Strauss’ two chefs, Executive Chef, Gunther Emathinger, and Regional Chef, Corey Rapp, created the masterpiece that best represents this union. The Big Beer Burger consists of ingredients that are infused with beer, paying homage to the different types of beer the offer. The bacon is beer brined, the mushrooms are flavored with IPA, the onions are grilled with Red Trolley Ale, and the patty is basted with Amber. Each ingredient cohesively creates the ultimate Big Beer Burger. And if you needed a little more beer, an IPA steak sauce is served on the side.

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 1.51.38 PM Haven Gastropub
190 South Glassell Street
Old Towne Orange, CA 92866
714.221.0680
www.HavenGastropub.com

WINNER: BEST BURGER! 

As I walked up to the restaurant, I glimpsed a patron with a plate of beautiful Brussels sprouts and devilled eggs on her table, drinking a glass of red wine and reading a book. Needless to say, I was delighted. I perused the menu and was overjoyed to see such a refreshing menu consisting of items like Lamb Neck Poutine and cookies and milk. I will definitely be back for cravings other than burgers. At Haven, I was appropriately served the Haven Burger. This burger was a former contender for one of LOCALE’s previous burger competitions and took the title back then. So, the bar had been set pretty high for this burger, but at first bite, I knew why it had been deemed champion in the past. There was a flavor for all five tastes; sweet, salty, umami, sour and bitter. Executive Chef Greg Daniels knows what he’s doing when it comes to strong flavor profiles. My favorite part of the burger was the pickled red onions; it was a fun, creative way to flare up the classic ingredient, the onion, to any good burger. In addition to the onions, the St. Agur Bleu Cheese, arugula, roasted red bell peppers and garlic aioli on a brioche bun played a key role in continuing to say that Haven Gastropub has the best burger in OC.

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Burger Parlor
204 N Harbor Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92832
714.441.2003
www.BurgeParlor.com 

WINNER: BEST VEGETARIAN BURGER!

At Burger Parlor I tried it all, and I loved it all. Owner and Chef Joseph Mahon rolled out the red carpet for me while I was there, and I got to taste a variety of burgers with different flavor fusions for all walks of burger lovers. Chef Mahon not only rolled out the carpet for us, but it appeared he offered the same great hospitality to each and every guest, whether it was helping them pick the perfect burger, or making sure a guest received a birthday sweet from the house. Their burgers are ground daily and are hormone free; their fries, onion rings and condiments are all made in house. The baked potato fries are a must, particularly with a squirt of their homemade ketchup. Of all the burgers I tried here, the Portland stood out the most for me. I do love a good pickled carrot when I can get one, and the Portland burger delivers with its fresh ingredients and innovative take on the veggie burger. I loved that they didn’t attempt to make one of those mushy, concocted veggie patties that can be a real miss sometimes. Chef Mahon also offers the addition of a piece of crispy fried mozzarella. This burger is not just for people who don’t eat meat; we all love a piece of gooey fried cheese. In addition to those pickled carrots, the Portland sports marinated beets, sprouts, arugula and herb sauce with a tomato confit.

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Slater’s 50/50
8082 Adams Ave.
Huntington Beach, CA 92646
714.594.5730
www.Slaters5050.com

At Slater’s, they play with the food for you so you don’t have to. You’ll see what I mean when you take a look at the menu and check out the fun creative recipes they’ve come up with for their burgers. At Slater’s, the most important part of the burger is the meat. Their signature patty is half beef, half bacon, and boy do they love their bacon! For those of you who are particular about what goes into your burger, you can design your own burger. Or, you can try some of Slater’s award-winning burger specialties. We tried the Peanut Butter & Jealousy Burger and the ‘Merica Burger. The PB&J Burger is exactly what you’re thinking; between a honey-wheat bun lays a Sterling Silver ground beef patty with bacon (of course) nestled between creamy peanut butter and strawberry jelly. Not extreme enough for you? No worries, you can order it a la’ mode. I doubled down and got it a la’ mode, and it was delish. The ‘Merica burger was a fun treat, too. In a nutshell, it’s bacon. It could be disguised as breakfast but it’s not. It featured a 100 percent bacon patty, topped with bacon, a sunny side up egg, and two pieces of bacon (naturally), and held on with bacon cheddar cheese. Wait…there’s more…bacon island dressing as well as a bacon pretzel bun. I’d say the ingredients speak for themselves, because when I saw the burger I was speechless. After the fact, I can’t stop talking about it, and I was surprised at how well the flavors worked together. Bacon is a great pairing for bacon, that, and a beer. At Slater’s they are not modest with their love for beer, featuring over 100 different beer selections on tap. If you have any questions, all of the servers and bartenders are Cicerone Certified Beer Servers, so they can surely help you out.

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The Riders Club Café
1701 N. El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92673
949.388.3758
WWW.RidersClubCafe.com 

WINNER: BEST HANGOVER REMEDY BURGER!

The Rider’s Club is a sweet little joint nestled in the city of San Clemente. The owner here introduced me to the life-saving product Underberg after our long adventurous burger excursion. Underberg is a digestive bitters containing herbs from over 43 countries and is made in Germany. This way when you order a hot dog adorned with house-made relish to go along with your burger, pork sandwich, and pudding, you won’t have to worry about overdoing it. Well, maybe a little, but it all just tastes so good. I had a beef burger with goat cheese and fresh jalapenos, and the pickled beets on the side were greatly appreciated. Ask for them next time, and you will get them on your burger at no additional charge! Rider’s Club has a great beer selection and prides themselves as having slow, fast food. To elaborate on this, this is the place where you come for burgers for real people who appreciate quality food. Their burgers are ground in-house, and a delivery truck can be spotted here every day, bringing the freshest of fresh ingredients to pair with their burger patty. This is the kind of place that loves food as much as I do.

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Mick’s Karma Bar
2010 Main St. Ste. 165
Irvine, CA 92614
949.851.6316
www.MicksKarmaBar.com

Skip the beer and grab a juice with your burger at this spot. The Strawberry Basil Lemonade is delicious! This locally loved establishment has the best burger for a quick lunch that’s full in flavor and satisfying to all your taste buds. Mick’s Karma Bar’s burger leaves you with the perfect feeling of being content after a delicious meal. We tried the Sirloin Steak Burger, which is handmade and hormone free, slathered in gooey American cheese, crisp lettuce, juicy Roma tomato and Karma Sauce on a fluffy bun. There’s no frill about this burger, just clean concise flavors showcasing the quality of the product. I liked how straight forward it was. I also liked that there was fresh juice available, because let’s face it, we don’t always need to pair our burger with a side of fries.

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A Restaurant
3334 W Coast Hwy.
Newport Beach, CA 92663
949.650.6505
www.ARestaurantnb.com

This iconic spot holds a special place in Newport’s heart, serving quality food since 1925. The red booths and dark walls will make you dream of the celebrities that may have passed through here along with generations of folks from Orange County. Being on the West Coast can make historical locations a rarity, which is why there is also a special place in my heart for locations like this. They help keep our community’s history alive. However, throughout all of the history for which A Restaurant has seen, there is nothing old fashioned about their burgers. The A Burger consists of Niman Ranch ground chuck, blue cheese, arugula, caramelized onions, 1,000 island dressing, served on a freshly baked brioche bun. This luxury burger was prepared by Executive Chef Jon Blackford. Chef Blackford maintains strong relationships with his suppliers to promise the best quality they can provide. I almost ate the whole thing, it was just that good.

About The Author

Michelle Slieff
Web Editor/ Writer

Michelle is a local of Southern California's coastal cities. She enjoys hiking, poetry, and cured meats, but not necessarily in that order. Her favorite food is Mexican, but that's probably because it's more available than the Hungarian cuisine she grew up on. Michelle has been in the restaurant industry professionally for the last ten years, and unprofessionally her whole life. She received her BA in Creative Writing from CSULB and is currently working on her Master's degree in Poetry. If she's not at the table next to you in your favorite restaurant, then she's writing content for LOCALE magazine’s website as web editor.

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