Burntzilla Brick and Mortar Location—Irvine

Week two of voluntary unemployment:  accompanied my mom to a small event at Burntzilla’s newish brick and mortar location in Irvine.

Reasonable prices and excellent food (especially in the fried department)! Pretty much everything except the King’s Hawaiian rolls is house-made here, but you’d almost have to ask if you didn’t happen to notice the short bio to the right of the menu. Speaking of the King’s Hawaiian, it seemed to me that every dish we tried was, in fact, made to use the flavor of the rolls as an integral part. Even the off-menu bread pudding was unexpectedly not overly sweet.

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PB & J, fried chicken, and cheeseburger.

PB & J – peanut butter (peanuts, crushed pretzel, sugar), blueberry jam, and a bit of banana. I think this was the first PB & J I’ve had outside of home. I tend to actively avoid ordering such things in restaurants, but I had a feeling about this place.

Fried chicken – Perfectly fried chicken! Totally crisp outside and juicy inside. Nice gravy and garlic mashed potatoes too. I had to mention that I had that same idea when I was a kid, but I never developed it beyond the mashed potatoes on leftover bread phase.

Cheeseburger – I can only say I wish this was a full size burger! Everything was spot-on. The avocado aioli came through really well, too. Better than most other aiolis I’ve had on burgers.

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Spicy Chili and Yaki Dog(zilla)s.

Spicy chili – Burntzilla was proud to really that they’re just coming off a win at the Tustin Chili Cook-Off! Besides excellent ingredients and a solid recipe, they said that the secret to their success was that it was fresh cooked. For those who don’t know from chili cook-offs, most contestants usually prepare chilis in advance and reheat them for tasting, which obviously does no favors for the flavor of any food. Overall a great dog!

Yaki – Again the starch upon starch theme! Yakisoba (good in its own right) on a high quality hot dog. Not much else that needs to be said about that.

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As aforementioned, the off-menu bread pudding was a nice bookend to our visit.

Though not expansive, the carefully curated menu offers anything and everything one could want for a great, quick lunch.

The sweet tea with strawberry purée would be good with most anything else one orders, and the $9 Golden Combo is a good deal.


14413 Culver Dr. Irvine, CA

burntzilla.com

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Angelo’s Drive-In Hamburger

Well, I was quite happy with myself after finding this place on Yelp for me and my friends after my band’s show, but when I told my parents where I was eating, they were all like “Oh yeah we used to eat there years ago.”

That happens to me a lot.

Regardless, a really solid burger! On menu it’s called the “bacon guac cheeseburger,” but really it’s just avocado on there. Which I prefer! The vegetables in a full on guac would prove redundant on a burger, in my opinion.

Blue Moon and Newcastle are about as crafty as the beer list goes, but I can totally live with those. A word of warning, though―a “large” beer here could perhaps be called gauche if it were some beverage other than beer.

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Good fries and an excellent chocolate shake rounded out the drive-in burger experience.

Yelp – yelp.com/biz/angelos-drive-in-hamburgers-anaheim

Dublin 4: Gastroburger

On the menu, it’s called the Prime Gastroburger or Gastro Prime Burger or something like that. I haven’t actually read the menu since my first of many visits about 6 months ago, but the simple phrase “gastroburger and a pint of Smithwick’s” is all one needs to say.

This burger is, in short, one of my all time favorite burgers. The pairing of this burger and Smithwick’s is also one of my all time burger-and-a-beer pairs. Always perfectly cooked, even when the chef has left the kitchen, with an excellent balance among all the elements. The richness of the meat and cheese is cut by the arugula and pickle, and bacon is always a nice touch. The bun is sturdy, and, in terms of the flavor profile, yields appropriately to what it contains. The skinny fries with truffle oil and parmesan are also always fried and seasoned well. It is available as a lamb burger, though I prefer my lamb in chop form.

I like the presentation too.

I like the presentation, too.

Umami Burger’s Manly Burger

Again, another place that’s been popular for a long time but I’m only just trying.

Still, a great burger! It hit all the major points: well formed and cooked patty, good balance between components, and it paired well with a good dark beer, which happened to be Bootlegger’s Black Phoenix (it was the darkest available). For me, a good burger, regardless of where it’s from, always has umami in its flavor profile. At the very least, a patty prepared with good meat and cooked correctly should be a little umami by nature. The beer cheddar is an excellent burger cheese with enough sharpness to be noticed in the mix, and the smoked-salt onion strings impart a pleasant flavor that is between that of raw and grilled, as well as an always enjoyable fried flavor. And of course nothing needs to be said about the benefits of bacon lardons, house made ketchup and mustard, and a good bun. I though the “U” burned into the top was cool too.

Beer-cheddar cheese, smoked-salt onion strings, bacon lardons, umami ketchup, mustard spread. Taken from my Foodspotting profile.

The Habit Burger Grill

While Taqueria Guadalupana’s torta lengua is my favorite individual sandwich, burgers are my favorite kind of sandwich. People don’t always think of a burger as a sandwich in the same way as, say, a club sandwich, but you can’t deny it. A burger is just stuff between bread.

Burgers have been my go-to choice when I need to make a quick menu decision (at non-Mexican places, where I’d get a torta). My favorite burger will always be whichever one we most recently made at home, but I still love a good burger from anywhere.

My most recent burger adventure was at The Habit Burger Grill, a small chain originally from Santa Barbara. In classic burger parlor fashion, one’s ordering process begins with the choice between a single or double burger. The menu has several pre-set variations, including a teriyaki pineapple burger, and several more optional toppings. Of note is the by-default grilled onions; I recommend getting extra. I ordered the Double Char with bacon, avocado, Swiss cheese, and extra grilled onions. Well formed and cooked patties, quality toppings, and good construction made for a great burger.

Definitely one of the better looking burgers I’ve had. Taken from my Foodspotting profile.

But The Habit doesn’t stop at burgers. Fantastic, hand-made shakes fill out the, in my opinion, classic burger-and-a-shake equation.

I could hardly eat a burger without a nice cold chocolate shake within easy reach.

Drinks are never much to look at, but I could hardly eat a burger without a nice cold chocolate shake within easy reach.