If you were going to take the best elements of your favorite burger joints to build a burger utopia from the ground up, what would it look like?
You would want to begin by sourcing your ingredients from the local farmers, butchers and vendors, and engage in fair trade practices. You would want a variety of meats, not just beef, but wild boar, elk, bison — even duck. You’d want organic, grass-fed patties shaped by hand in-house. You’d also want vegan and gluten-free options because who wants to be uninclusive? You would want craft beer and local wines, and signature cocktails.
This utopic burger joint you’re imagining — good news — it already exists. It’s called Bareburger.
The restaurant was launched in New York, where it was a hit with the local burger aficionados. In fact, it was voted the best burger in New York City by the New York Post. Given its ethos, it was only a matter of time before it arrived here in L.A., Main Street, Santa Monica to be precise. The space, by the way, is roomy and stylish, reminiscent of many of the casual dining rooms on this side of town.
The menu is comprehensive without being overburdening, offering a robust variety of appetizers, salads, sandwiches and, of course, burgers. And while there are several chef-designed burgers, the most popular selection on the menu is the build-your-own, and the options are many. Wait, “many” doesn’t really do justice to their offerings. Here’s what I’m talking about:
- 10 types of patty: beef, sesame ginger beef, bison, elk, wild boar, duck, grilled lemon chicken, sweet potato-and-wild rice, black bean and quinoa. And I’m told ostrich shows up now and then, which is both lean and delicious.
- 4 types of bun: brioche, sprout, tapioca rice and a collard-green wrap.
- 9 types of cheese: Colby, aged cheddar, pepper jack, manchego, queso fresco, gouda, pimento, Amish blue and vegan cheddar.
- 4 types of bacon: country-style, beer-braised, duck and brisket.
- 15 garnishes: alfalfa, green leaf, spinach, red onions, tomato, dill pickles, spicy pickles, sweet pickles, pickled green tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, chickpea onions, stout onions, pickled red onions, grilled pineapple and wild mushrooms.
- 11 sauces: mayonnaise, ketchup, buffalo sauce, stone mustard, special sauce, habanero mayo, paprika mayo, horseradish remoulade, curry ginger ketchup, smoke sauce and buttermilk ranch.
- 6 spreads: spicy pico de gallo, piquante relish, tomato fig jam, green hummus, kimchi slaw and guacamole.
Hungry yet? Let me put a cherry on top: milkshakes, my favorite way to wash down a burger. Bareburger serves Bluebell ice cream, a small New York-based joint that partnered with them from the beginning. In addition to the usual flavors, there are some rarities, and they’ll even mix them up to create something unique. So, on the advice of my server, I took a leap and mixed raspberry, vanilla and peanut butter. And just as she said, it tasted a little like Crunchberries cereal. Oh, the classics.
Scott Bridges is an L.A.-based journalist who has worked as a police-beat reporter, a community newspaper editor, and a food and travel writer. He currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to The Huffington Post and Bizjournals.com, among other sites. He is a native Californian who lives on the Westside.