Monday, December 28, 2020

Burgers 99 (Los Angeles, CA)

Burgers 99
131 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Mon 12/28/2020, 08:00p-09:15p

Burgers 99 Exterior

You might recall that I reported on The Golden State recently. Well after that meal, I was reminded that I had another hamburger joint in the area that I needed to visit. Situated in the former home of Japanese macrobiotic eatery Inaka (next door to the now-shuttered Odys + Penelope), Burgers 99 opened at the start of March, right before the coronavirus lockdown, and comes to use from brothers Arjun Mahendro and Nakul Mahendro. They're the guys behind hipster Indian spot Badmaash, which originally opened in Downtown in May 2013 before expanding to Fairfax Avenue five years later.

Joining the Mahendros in the Burgers 99 partnership are Brick Stowell and Chef Geovanny "Geo" Delgado. Interestingly, the siblings poached Delgado from Arts District cocktail bar Here and Now after trying his burger there. Before that, he cooked at E.R.B., Pistola, Gusto, Petit Ermitage, and Minx in Glendale. Coincidentally, I actual met him at a Thomas Keller book signing back in 2009, where was next to me in line--small world!

Burgers 99 Menu
Pictured above is the Burgers 99 menu, which is certainly on the straightforward side. Click for a larger version.

Cheeseburger [$6.00]
We begin with the most basic item on the menu, inspired by the hamburgers served by the SoCal institution that is In-N-Out. I could definitely taste the reference, and it was a delicious one. I'd say that the burger here was more aggressively beefy, though the biggest difference actually lay in the housemade spread, which was on restrained side with its subdued, herby heat (it incorporates Fresno chilies, coriander, cumin, and dill). The pickles played a major role as well, as did the onions to a lesser extent. It was hard for me not to enjoy this.

2007 Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
Given that we were well into winter, it made sense to bust out a vintage seasonal bottling, the 2007 Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. The beer smelled appealing with its stone fruit-like juiciness, touches of baking spice, and palpable funk hiding in the background. The taste featured a base of malty sweetness, combined with a distinct bitterness, some dark plum notes, subtle spice, and a metallic, cinnamon-y twang on the finish. This one held up better than expected over the past 13 years.

Breakfast Burrito
Breakfast Burrito (Interior)
Breakfast Burrito [$9.00] | your choice of protein in a flour tortilla with soft scrambled eggs, extra crispy hashbrowns & American cheese
I have a bit of a proclivity for breakfast burritos, so this was a must-try for me. What struck me first was the sheer fluffiness of the eggs, and how that meshed with the salty, savory qualities of the turkey sausage. The hash browns were much appreciated too, as was the burrito's griddled crisp tortilla. I will say, though, that I would've really liked some salsa to help bring it all together.

American (Interior)
American [$6.00]
Next came a burger inspired by McDonald's' iconic Quarter Pounder. It was a pretty close approximation, its classic, cozy combo of meat and cheese complemented by the sheer zestiness of chopped onion, all while the tanginess of the pickles came in toward the rear. Also of note was the bun, which I found particularly pillowy.

French Fries
French Fries [$5.00]
Coming out on the thicker side, the fries were just crispy enough, and showed off some delightful pricks of salt.

2018 Bottle Logic Staff of Asir
My second bottle was the 2018 Bottle Logic Staff of Asir, a bourbon barrel-aged strong ale with macadamia nut flour, cocoa butter, and lactose, created in collaboration with Horus Aged Ales. I got an inviting, super sugary nose filled with notes of sweet nutmeats and brown sugar. Taste-wise, think more sticky, toffee-like flavors commingled with macadamia and vanilla. The beer was inspired by a white chocolate-macadamia cookie, and it was pretty damn spot on.

Homemade Vegan Burger
Homemade Vegan Burger (Interior)
Homemade Vegan Burger [$9.00] | Vegan patty made of whole & natural ingredients (potato, mushroom, garbanzo beans, black lentil, carrots, cauliflower & parsnip) with lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion, ketchup & mustard, on a vegan-bread bun
I was curious about the restaurant's lone vegan option, and it wasn't bad at all. The patty ate crispy and flavorful and nutty, and was somewhat reminiscent of falafel. The veggies worked well as counterpoints, especially the onion, though I would've liked a spread of some sort to help coalesce all the various elements.

All Beef Hotdog
All Beef Hotdog (Dressed)
All Beef Hotdog [$6.00] | 100% All-Beef Kosher dog, mustard, ketchup, chopped onion, Martin's hot dog bun
I was pretty happy with the hot dog, specifically the sausage itself, which I found super flavorful and nicely griddled. Onion and relish offered up a zippiness that of course made sense, while the soft, sweet-ish bun completed the package.

Hickory Bacon Burger
Hickory Bacon Burger (Interior)
Hickory Bacon Burger [$9.00]
My final burger was a winner as well. I was impressed with the bacon, which combined, sweet, smoky, salty flavors with a perfect amount of crispiness. In fact, the bacon was clearly the hero for me, with the other ingredients effectively serving as supporting elements. Yum.

Burgers 99 made for another positive hamburger experience to end the year with. The food here is a bit of a throwback. It's got a familiar, comforting, old school sort of feel to it, and that works for me. Now this is clearly a replicable concept, so I wonder if the Mahendro brothers are planning on opening up other locations. It wouldn't surprise me.


Blogger D&E Blog said...

Are you eating all of this yourself or sharing bites?

Sunday, January 10, 2021 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Yep it's just me, though I'm not necessarily eating all the food in one sitting, as I generally have leftovers.

Thursday, January 14, 2021 1:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are the hotdogs you've reviewed lately generally house made? I would assume so otherwise it's awfully hard to make them special/unique.

Friday, January 15, 2021 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

I would actually wager that they're not, since if they were, I think that a restaurant would proudly advertise the fact.

Monday, January 18, 2021 5:25:00 PM  

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