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Bang for your Burger Buck ~ The King Burger @ Burger Plaza Grill

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Sometimes you have to ask yourself this: What would Elvis do?

I'll grant you it would be difficult to imagine the King of Rock n Roll at a food court in South Los Angeles, but then again Mercado Paloma is not your average food court. Home to Yucatanean specialist Chichen Itza, an Oaxacan fusion restaurant, a vegan Ethiopian eatery, not to mention being the first location for Modern Peruvian pioneer Ricardo Zarate's Mo Chica, in a way Burger Plaza Grill looks so . . . average, really almost passable compared to the exotic fair that surrounds it. But I imagine Elvis, definitely Fat Elvis, was a burger man of the highest order and you know he could never pass up a Burger that was called King, and frankly if you are looking for some Bang for your Burger Buck, you shouldn't either.

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My first gander at the menu continued to have me guessing. This place looked far from lux and at these prices they just aren't giving the burgers away. All my Bang for your Burger Buck powers of price point prowess needed to be summoned. I probed a little about the necessity of cheese, got cozy with the specs on the patty melt and weighed in on the burger weights - and at $4.75 for over a half pound, wait, let me repeat, for over a half pound of beef, I went for the King, and friends let me say this: Elvis would have been damn proud of me.

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Beef Pancake

I was flat out shocked when the guy behind the griddle began to work on my burger. First of all the patty is made to order and the amount of fresh ground beef used is obscene, which spells awesome for you and I my friend. I honestly don't think I have seen that much ground beef displayed in front of me save for a handful of old school butcher shops. The end result was one of the loosest grinds I have ever had and this because the patties are not preformed. This may not seem like a big deal but remember that the longer ground beef is compacted, the more "spongy" the texture becomes - this is the very reason chefs and burger freaks like your truly applaud places that grind there meat in house, to avoid this texture pitfall. At Burger Plaza Grill they don't grind the beef in house, rather they just put down a slab of ground chuck on the griddle and form it into a small pancake. Hearing that combo of smack followed by sizzle was priceless: a ground beef body slam equivalent of Hulk Hogan lifting Andre the Giant circa Wrestlemania III.

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Beyond the heavy dose of beef, this burger is as plain as the price point would suggest. The bun was out of a bag but fresh and wide enough to accomodate the large patty. Toppings wise, the burger has balance, the produce was very fresh, and just enough mayonnaise was applied. The salt and pepper seasoning was simple and effective but could have used a heavier hand.

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Small grievances can never diminish grand value, and more importantly Burger Plaza Grill pulls off something that I have yet to encounter: deliver a legitimate Mom and Pop diner style burger in a food court. Wise King Solomon may have passed on taking the Queen of Sheeba here, ditto with good King Friday from Mr Roger's Neighborhood because puppets don't need to eat, but I will say this, if Elvis Presley found himself 3000 miles from Graceland, you can bet his blue suede shoes that he would order up a King Burger and revel in it's honest simplicity and hearty serving of bovine. Under $5 for over half 'o pound of ground, now that not only spells Bang for your Burger Buck, but also a hunk of burning love.

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