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Bang for your Burger Buck: L.A. Buns ~ Downey

8:54 AM PDT on March 11, 2013


L.A. Buns ~ 8237 2nd St Downey, CA 90241

L.A. Buns. I didn't think much about your name, or much about you at all when I eased through your divey front door. But I should have known when I walked in that if I'm here, it's because you deftly pull the people in with artisan burger mojo, pride in your quality ingredients, and a menu cast of co-stars that might make Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy jealous.


A running mantra of mine in getting Bang for your Burger Buck is to steer clear of the costly add ons. Bacon, cheese and onion rings can not only add extra cheddar to that bill but can also mask the flavor of an otherwise fine burger patty. At L.A. Buns, $5.45 will get you a 1/2lb of house ground chuck, shredded lettuce, roasted tomato and a made from scratch thousand island wisely spiked with butter pickles, nestled on a fluffy brioche bun, specially sourced from a bakery in El Segundo. But for a mere extra 70 cents you can add cheddar, bacon and onion strings. Child, don't even trip. If you want Bang for that Burger Buck, pony up the couch change or put off the laundry for one more day, because at L.A. Buns, the LAX burger is a hot damn deal.


This is exactly what 6 toppings on a 1/2lb burger should look like. While it may be almost as overplayed as Call me Maybe, the brioche bun always pulls off the Herculean task of holding the most beastly of burgers together till the final bite. This brioche is as fine an example as any I have ever had, even if they don't make 'em, L.A. Buns knows how to pick 'em. The roasted tomato is evocative of a little burger empire called Umami, nothing wrong with taking a page from the greats . . . and charging 40% less. Bacon, cheddar and onion strings were as decadent as their press release originally stated. Suffice to say, the LAX Burger has a serious texture thing going - thanks in no small part to the shredded lettuce. Much like a Baja style fish taco, the shredded lettuce is critical to this burger's texture dynamic and provides some necessary flora amongst this ocean of land mammals.

Salt N Pepa

Let's talk about beef baby. Let's talk about salt and meat. Let's talk about all the good things and the bad things that can be. Well, maybe not bad because there is nothing bad to say about the beef at L.A. Buns. Maybe odd, as I was astonished to see these burgers cooked on a grill with a heavy cast iron bacon press over them. Science, also known as Harold McGhee, Alton Brown, Christopher Kimball, and maybe a million chowhounders would call this a fatal blow in burger preparation but as you can see, the beef came out perfect; cooked to order at medium rare and quite juicy. Even more interesting than the burger cookery was a blast of glutamate savoriness that kept you coming back, bite after bite. LA Buns uses steak seasoning. After experimenting with seasoned salts and sea salts, a steak rub was determined to be the burger seasoning of choice. Not only does the rub allow the beef to stand up to the numerous toppings that L.A. Buns can come with, but it gives it a salted signature that sticks out in my mind amongst the many tasty burgers in this town.


The bottom line: $6.69 with tax for a 1/2 pound, in house ground chuck, with bacon, cheddar, crispy onion strings, roasted tomatoes, shredded lettuce and in house thousand island on a specially sourced brioche bun. L.A. Buns delivers bang for your burger buck by offering you numerous topping upgrades for literally, pennies. They defy the culture of burger add ons. One could only imagine what they could do if the city lifted its ban on foie gras. And now for the kicker: their best item isn't even a burger:


The South LA chicken sandwich was a fly on the wall until the kind folks at L.A. Buns offered up sample on the house. While my Prime Directive is to seek out great burgers and boldly send you to where you have not dined before, I say to you today that this chicken sandwich is worth your valuable burger stomach space. The chicken breast is brined, breaded, deep fried and then topped with a jalapeno coleslaw tossed in a vinaigrette and then topped with a red rooster aioli, that same brioche bun is in effect and it also comes in at $6.15, pre tax.


And sweet lord she is juicy enough to put some whole roast chickens to shame. Not to worry my burger betrothed flock, I still prefer carb encased hamburg steaks to chicken sammies any day - but I am at a loss to think of anyone getting this loco about pollo at these prices. L.A. Buns takes their grub seriously; they grind 45 pounds of chuck daily and they would rather run out, as they often do, then serve anything but the freshest, most premium of products while charging modest prices. All this makes L.A. Buns a true gem in downtown Downey.

Just remember to keep your board in hand:


when you roll in Downtown Downey:

art by Don Lampkin
art by Don Lampkin
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