En Garde! Bet your buns there’s a burger war going on … in La Jolla
By Ashley Mackin
The burger is back! In addition to honoring the classic we all know and love, local hamburger emporiums are taking them up a notch by offering unique flavor pairings, better buns and craft beers.
La Jolla Light asked the burgermeisters to give us the particulars on their patties.
■ Burger Lounge
1101 Wall St., La Jolla
• Signature: The Lounge Burger, made with 100-percent single- source American grass-fed beef; topped with lettuce, tomato, house-made Thousand Island dressing, organic white cheddar or organic American cheese, and fresh or grilled onion.
• Brand: Freshness and quality of ingredients — all dressings and sauces are housemade; organic cane-sweetened fairtrade Maine Root fountain soda, served, always fresh 100-percent single-source American grass-fed beef, and sources organic cheese and ketchup to offer guests a burger they can feel good about eating.
• Unique to the menu: In addition to grass-fed beef burgers, there are free-range turkey and wild Alaskan salmon burgers, vegetarian options (including an organic quinoa veggie burger), a fresh vegetable salad and an organic quinoa salad with roasted baby squash, corn, tomato, arugula, spinach, kale, red onion, toasted almonds, feta and smoked tomato vinaigrette.
Burger Lounge unveiled grass-fed wild-game burgers as seasonal specials in November, serving a smoky wild-boar burger with smoked cheddar, hand-cut onion rings and house-made barbecue sauce for February. An elk burger will follow in March and April.
• What best pairs with your burgers? Ballast Point Yellowtail Pale Ale and a Lounge Burger go together extremely well.
• Average burger cost: $7.95
• The vibe: All locations are certified green and use energy- saving light fixtures and biodegradable products. The atmosphere is casual with accents of orange and brown outfitting the dining rooms and patios.
■ Eureka! Burger
4353 La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla
• Signature: Fig Marmalade Burger with homemade marmalade, melted goat cheese, crispy bacon, minced tomatoes, onion and arugula dolloped in spicy porter mustard.
• Brand: 100-percent vegetarian- fed natural meats and local produce. Cocktails are produced by Certified Cicerone mixologists who use all-natural ingredients, including fresh-squeezed orange juice and natural sugars.
• Unique to the menu: Everything. There isn’t an item on the menu that is standard — and that’s everything from the appetizers (Osso Buco Riblets) to a signature sandwich, like the Chicken Saltimbocca (sautéed chicken with garlic, oven-roasted tomatoes layered with prosciutto ham, smoked mozzarella cheese and seasoned with fresh sage).
• What best pairs with your burgers? American craft spirits and regional microbrews around, including American small batch whiskeys like Barcones, Corsair and Pappy Van Winkle, and stellar brew- houses like Green Flash, Ballast Point and Stone.
• Average burger cost: $10.50
• The vibe: Each restaurant is made to feel as though the community has a sense of ownership. The atmosphere works for families or a night out on the town.
■ La Jolla Brew House
7536 Fay Ave., La Jolla
• Signature: The BH Burger, a half-pound patty of all-natural beef.
• Brand: Daily specials.
• Unique to the menu: The Fay Avenue Burger with Brie cheese, sautéed mushrooms, garlic aioli and a side of Dijon mustard
• What best pairs with your burgers? Any crisp hoppy IPA on tap. The fresh citrus notes complement the Cajun spices of the Black and Blue Burger and the hoppy notes perk up the palate and balance the creamy cheeses used on most burgers.
• Average burger cost: $12
• The vibe: Simple American beer spot with burgers, sandwiches, pizzas, tacos and pub grub favorites like chicken wings and nachos. It’s relaxed and social, with sports on TV and daily specials.
■ Public House
830 Kline St., La Jolla
• Signature: Greg Norman Farms Australian Grass Fed Wagyu Kobe Beef, melted Gruyère, Gorgonzola crumbles, crispy onion straws, arugula and roasted tomato, all piled between house-made brioche buns.
• Brand: The meat has no antibiotics or additives and is delivered fresh several times a week. All meats are humanely raised, the selection includes beef, bison, venison, lamb, duck, rabbit, alligator, wild boar and ostrich to name a few.
• Unique to the menu: A selection of 43 draft beers and 450 bottled beers, which include beers from Belgium, Germany, San Dego, the rest of the U.S. and hard-to-find craft microbrews.
• What best pairs with your burgers? A malty dark Belgian brown or quadruple.
• Average burger cost: $12.
• The vibe: Very laidback and welcoming. While La Jolla can be very tourist-centric in the summer, Public House loves to take care of locals 12 months a year.
For instance, its “80 Beers in 80 Days Club” member program was devised to reward those who come by on a regular basis.
1000 Prospect St., La Jolla
• Signature: The San Diego Burger, served on a torta roll with pepper jack cheese, chipotle mayo, lettuce, tomato, sliced fresh avocado, cilantro, red onions and sour cream with a wedge of lime.
• Brand: 100-percent Angus beef, fresh never frozen, smashed on the grill to sear in the juices.
• Unique to the menu: Specialty salads, home-made vegetarian black-bean burger, chicken breast burger, Häagen Daz milkshakes; Smash fries are French fries with rosemary, olive oil and garlic; same option with the sweet potato fries.
• What best pairs with your burgers? A Corona with a lime, or local beers Stone IPA, Ballast Point Amber and Yellow Tail Pale Ale, and Fat Tire.
• Average burger cost: $6
• The vibe: Very customer service-oriented, quick and courteous.
• Vote for the Best Burger in La Jolla
Now that you’ve seen — and maybe checked out — these burger spots, tell us: Which is your favorite and why? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with what you like in a burger spot and which is your favorite in La Jolla (even if it’s not on this list). The results will be posted in a future issue.
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