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Bang for your Burger Buck ~ Marty’s on Pico

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"Back in the day, when I was a teenager, before I had status, and before I had a pager . . . "

It's 1996. A Tribe called Quest is blaring out the car window. I just wrapped up an Apple Pan run soon to be followed by a screening of Rumble in the Bronx and some mall loitering at the Westside Pavilion. $11 lighter after leaving Apple Pan, I only wish knew then what I know now: Marty's on Pico is West LA's answer for Bang for your Burger Buck.

You know it when your eye catches the vintage signage nestled in the blitz of storefronts, new and old, along Pico Boulevard. The menu prices keep inflation in massive check and the Vienna beef dogs sizzling on the griddle wet your appetite and give you ideas about a frankfurter final course. For me, the westside will always carry a bit of 90s nostalgia as that was where I would roam when skipping classes at USC, for you it is just another destination in your quest of Bang for your Burger Buck.

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Let's just get right to the point here: it is all about the beef at Marty's. Vienna beef signs are not exactly new nor uncommon, but damn if it don't make for some fine hot dogs. While Kobe or Grass Fed won't be associated with Marty's burgers, they are worlds beyond the frozen hockey pucks that so often hits griddles at similarly priced stands and diners all over town. The final product at Marty's is essentially the equivalent of a great backyard bbq your Dad would deliver if you grew up in some Wonder Years type scenario. I'm no Kevin Arnold, but this is a burger that would win Winnie Cooper over, any day.

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The Double Hamburger for $4.75(tax included) is the way to go here. Skip the cheese. I found that it was actually a distraction to the wonderful loose grind texture and all around beefiness the patty possessed. No surprise that these burgers come out cooked through, but are far from dry, in fact you could almost get away with skipping any wet stuff - which to me says that the grill man is taking great care in making sure these burgers are pulled just when cooked through - and at under $5; it gives the affordable care act a run for its bureaucratic money. Marty's uses chopped onions and it plays will with the perfect slathering of ketchup and mayo. The tomatoes were fresh and the lettuce was conservatively applied. Many times this kind of burger can get lost with a heavy hand of the aforementioned toppings, but with two patties in the mix, we have burger balance in the force.

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What one puts on a hot dog is as personal a choice as what one puts on his or her pizza. But at Bang, price counts, so Ill just say this: spring the .50 cents for the kraut. The savory beefy salt flavor from a Vienna hot dog absolutely needs as much acidic bite as possible. Yellow mustard ain't enough, and the relish is too sweet. Besides, the combo of yellow mustard, sauerkraut and Vienna Beef combines for a poor man's reuben at a mere $4. My arteries slightly ache telling you this but; get a hot dog with kraut for dessert. Your welcome.

Feeding the neighborhood with burgers ground daily since 1959, Marty's is a West LA institution. And at these prices it does not need to rely on some silly cartoon character to sling burgers; something that should be commended.

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