Umami Burger, Santa Monica CA

Umami Burger– ranked one of the best burgers in LA and GQ’s burger fo the year. Named for the fifth taste by the Japanese, the taste of savoriness in addition to the other four senses of basic taste that are sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Umami Burger not only makes their own meat, but also their own cheese, condiments, pickles, etc. The burger sizes are not huge as you would expect from a place specializing in burgers- they are sized to be the palm of your hand, which is probably a just right portion. LA style Burgers are also less about the meat (which Portland is all about) and more about the toppings, so calibrate accordingly.

We were only in Los Angeles for a long weekend, but even before arrival into the state we knew this would need to be a stop. We visited the Santa Monica location (one of their only five locations in LA, also one in SF but they are only in Cali). This location is semi-hidden as at first you see the Fred Segal and not their kiss of the lips/burger emblem on the door announcing their location. Their drinks list was actually pretty interesting with a variety of options that had character- we ordered the Blueberry sparkling sake glass that was very light and effervescent and a Goose Island Matilda. I also liked playing with the water glasses which were actually plastic that was somewhat flexible and had a convenient thumb indentation for holding.

I had the Truffle burger, topped with homemade truffle cheese and a truffle glaze. The meat itself (which is domestic Wagyu beef made on site) was very juicy, but that truffle cheese and truffle glaze really took it up to melting in your mouth richness. I tried to take little bites to make it last.

The sides were nothing to write about at all though- we had a side of the thin cut fries (which were completely disappointing and not even crisp) and sweet potatoes fries- apparently the waitress mistook my asking for smashed potatoes to sweet potatoes. We barely ate them because they just weren’t worth it. Also totally ignored was my request for additional condiments with the fries (all we got was the umami ketchup that comes standard). Also, I saw from my sister’s recommendation spreadsheet to order cheesy tots but didn’t see them on the menu- I didn’t know it was something you just had to order off menu. Maybe next time- though maybe we’ll trek to Slater’s 50/50 instead, which puts a bit more focus on the meat while still offering the LA insaneness of what to top the meat with.

He had the Earth burger, created with mushroom and edamame adn then topped with white soy aioli, truffled ricotta cheese, cipollini onions, butter lettuce, and slow-roasted tomato. Although the texture smushed with every bite of the burger, it had an amazing swirl of flavors.


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