Friday, September 26, 2008

Volcano Burgers (Los Alamitos, CA)

Volcano Burgers
3652 Cerritos Ave, Los Alamitos, CA 90720
562.430.6004 (Yelp, restaurant has no web site)
Fri 09/26/2008, 08:05p-08:20p

Regular kevinEats readers will recognize Volcano Burgers as perhaps the lowest-priced restaurant ever to appear on this blog. A sign of harsh economic times? Hardly. Don't worry faithful readers; we'll get back on track with the spendy stuff in October. On the slate for next month are Fogo de Chao, Urasawa, Lawry's, Studio, and possibly Totoraku. In any case, getting back to Volcano Burgers, the restaurant holds a special significance for me. Located across the street from Los Alamitos High School, my alma mater, Volcano was my choice for after school dining. I cannot recount the number of chili-cheese fries I devoured from the place over the years!

Volcano Burgers looks pretty much like any other generic burger joint, as in there's not my ambiance to speak of. Lining the windows are the plaques of various Los Al sports teams; during my years at the school, the football team was especially dominant; I wonder how they stand now? Parking is out back, and there is a drive-thru offered.

Once you order, you pick up your food at a small window facing a covered dining area.

Despite the name, Volcano Burgers does a lot more than burgers. Prices are fairly low, and portions quite large. Click for larger versions.

I ordered to go, so I appreciated the security of using boxes instead of bags to hold the food.

Pastrami Sandwich [$5.79]
On a French roll with mustard and pickle. A massive mound of pastrami awaits you here. It was as good as any other I've had (though I do need to try The Hat), and was nicely highlighted by the tartness of the mustard and pickle. My only real complaint was that the roll ended up being quite soggy.

Carne Asada Taco [$2.25]
With a side of salsa. This was a pretty generous serving of beef. Unfortunately the meat was a tad dry, but nevertheless the taco was still quite tasty. I think it must've been the onions and cilantro. Adding onions and cilantro (as well as a nice dollop of salsa) to nearly anything makes it better.

Chili-Cheese Fries with Onions [$3.69]
Ah, this is what brought me back. The fries would be boring on their own, but the chili managed to tie everything together, while the onions added a sharp tang to contrast the richness of the dish. I do think the fries could've used more chili and less cheese though, as near the end of the dish, the cheese was getting a bit overwhelming. Next time I'll ask for more onions too, and hell, maybe ask 'em to throw on some cilantro!

I must say that, after all these years, Volcano Burgers nevertheless manages to satisfy. This is cheap, simple, straightforward food, exactly the type of eats favored by high school students such as myself back in the day, and current Los Al students today. Even now, nearly ten years after graduation (that reminds me, my ten-year reunion is coming up...), those chili fries still do hit the spot!


Blogger Danny said...

Kevin, Its Danny again from the Cafe Hiro post. I am addicted to food and your blog always tempts me. I didnt mean to offend from my last post, but I was just shocked at how you can afford to go to such exquisite places multiple times! Anyways, I went to Gyu Kaku which was really disappointing for the price (compared to cheaper alternative places) and also ate at Ham Ji Park. Its a korean BBQ restaurant that focuses primarily on the ddong dwe ji (a "special" type of pig from Korea). bbq

Its very good and its always packed, I recommend it to you! I want to go on a culinary expedition with you sometime!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008 1:59:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Don't worry about it Danny, just some gentle ribbing from USC to UCLA!

Gyu Kaku is nothing amazing, as you can see from my review. I have heard of Ham Ji Park though, and it is on my list of BBQ places to try. Message me on Yelp or similar if you want to set up something.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008 12:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said... are only 27 or so? wow..good job on getting onto the food culture so quickly.

had dinner at cafe was in hollywood last night. food wasnt bad. also ate at the new korean bbq place in the culver city resturant area the other day. food was good..but pricey. but got a horrible stomach soon after. my friend who ate the same didnt though.

keep up the good work.

are you as upset with the cut "hills" debacle as i am?


Wednesday, October 01, 2008 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Close Paul, I'm actually 26.

Not familiar with Cafe Was. Just check out their web site and the menu looks decent, albeit a bit pedestrian. The Korean BBQ place was Gyenari I assume.

As for Speidi at CUT, having them up there with Clooney, Nicholson, Pitt, et al. just cheapens it for everyone.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008 1:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you were right about the korean place. cafe was interior is pretty cool or is it cheesy...hard to tell.

glad you agree with the cut photo debacle.

have you been to lucky devils in hollywood? great kobe bugers with carmalized onions, guyere cheese, bacon and brocette bun. the salads are fresh with great dressing as well. really good draft beer as well.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008 4:29:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Paul, I haven't been to Lucky Devils, but that burger does sound good!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008 7:06:00 PM  
Blogger H. C. said...

Ahh, reminds me of my high school hangout (similar fare, chili cheese fries being my favorite)! Too bad mine burned down and then replaced with a CVS.

Lucky Devil's burgers are pretty good (and it's Kobe-style beef, just to clarify); my favorite thing to get there is their toasted pecan frozen custard shake!

Cafe Was and Gyenari are both pretty recent opens so I'm going to let it settle into their mood a little bit and see what other say?

Have you had a chance to try Apple from Bryan Ogden? (Bradley's son) -- heard pretty good things so far but it hasn't gotten a lot of buzz yet.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008 7:27:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Apple's been on my radar but I haven't had a chance to go yet. I guess what's holding me back is that it just doesn't seem like a serious restaurant, with the Pussycat Dolls performing there and all...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008 9:44:00 PM  
Blogger dara said...

hey kevin! holy crapper, that looks like a heart attack!

just cruising in because my friend wanted to see your urasawa pics =)

Hope you're doing well !!!

Friday, October 03, 2008 2:03:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Hey Dara, funny thing you mentionend Urasawa, because I'm going there tomorrow!

Is your friend planning to dine there sometime?

Friday, October 03, 2008 2:40:00 PM  
Blogger digkv said...

Kevin you're a griffin? haha, I guess that means we're rivals since I'm an Aztec, or was or whatever. Sounds like your volcano burger is probably our equivalent of esperanza burger or something but that place sucks. You should go to The Hat and get the pastrami chili cheese fries and add the tomatoes and pickles, $10 but it's a massive thing that will feed a group of 4 at least.

Saturday, October 04, 2008 12:36:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Ah Esperanza, I remember us beating you in football all the time. ;)

You're right about The Hat though. The last time I went must have been during the first Clinton administration. Problem is that they're just too far away from me.

Saturday, October 04, 2008 1:37:00 AM  
Blogger Food, she thought. said...

I need those chili cheese fries. NEED.

Saturday, October 04, 2008 9:11:00 AM  
Blogger Food, she thought. said...


Cafe Was is Ivan Kane's new offering. Ivan is known for night clubs and bars rather than restaurants. I reviewed in my blog recently, we went just after the opening and the food was horrifying. If you are interested, the interior is lovely. stop by for a drink, or wait a few months then go in for food.

Also, Apple is high on my to-do list.

Saturday, October 04, 2008 9:13:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

I just read your review of the place, and it doesn't look like a place I'd enjoy.

It didn't seem all bad though; the "Napolean" and soup were good, though I don't think they make up for the atrocious steak.

Sunday, October 05, 2008 2:22:00 AM  
Blogger yenasung said...

I'm impressed you still visit your favorite high school fast food joints. I went to Cypress High, and our fast food joint was Albertaco's down the street on Valley View/Lincoln, the most popular dish being the Carne Asada Fries, mixed with the salsa so that it looks like dog food, and washed down with a orchata. Good times.

Sunday, May 17, 2009 8:39:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Nostalgia is a strong force within me. ;)

I actually grew up in Cypress, so I think I know where you're talking about.

Monday, May 18, 2009 2:32:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Goldberg said...

Just tried this place the other day. Had a double cheese burger and those chili cheese fries. The burger was well prepared with a fairly heavy charred flavor. I'm not big on that, but I respect it. Also found their "thousand island" sauce heavy on the sweet relish. It was pretty sweet. But those chili cheese fries. Holy crap, I couldn't stop eating them. Very tasty meaty chili and lots of cheese. I don't think they asked me if I wanted onions on it, because I would have taken them up on it for sure. I would also put my second foot in the grave by having them add sour cream to it. I think I've taken a few years off my life, so I better wait a while before I go back for those fries and I'll try the pastrami next time too and let you know if it's better than the Hat. The Hat's is pretty good, but it ain't Deli quality. Not that you expect that for $5-$7. Cortina's in Anaheim has better pastrami than the hat in that price range.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009 9:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Jake Schooler said...

Volcano Burger has the best food I Have ever had. My Dad owned One Stop Raceway a few buildings down. Everyone of us still loves Volcano. We've been eating there for 20 years and the foods still great and food quanity is still the same. I don't live in California anymore, my family still does. They are always calling me up and asking me what I want from Volacanos when they're in the drive-thru, just to screw with me. My job involves alot of traveling all through out the US and theres nothing like valcanos. No can match the chili cheese fries, Pastrami, or Coloso Burger like them. Honestly you can othly find that stuff in California. A lot of people claim The Hat, Tommy's, In-N-Out, Five Guys to be the best, but most of them haven't been to Volcano Burger. I Think it's beats them all hands down on all the menu items.

Friday, March 12, 2010 1:02:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Dave: Those chili fries helped me keep my sanity during high school. ;) Definitely get onions. Now sour cream...that's a new one! Did you end up trying the pastrami?

Jake: One Stop was pretty popular with the RC crowd back in the day right? Why did it ever close down?

Sunday, March 14, 2010 3:35:00 AM  
Anonymous ipad said...

The chili cheese fries are the best! I have yet to this day, found any chili cheese fries that beats Volcano Burger's. I also think the pastrami sandwich beats "The Hat".

Saturday, March 12, 2011 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Werd. Volcano's still tops for chili fries; had 'em with cilantro for the first time last week. Pastrami might be better than The Hat's too.

Sunday, March 13, 2011 1:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an ex-griffin (class of '96) i agree. Volcano is the bomb.

I love their food and when i am back in Los Al, I try and get some food!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011 9:09:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

See, now I'm tempted to bust out my yearbook and look you up. ;) But yeah, I also try to stop by at least monthly, and I always get the chili fries.

Friday, July 22, 2011 1:25:00 AM  

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