Irv's Burgers | 99 Essential Restaurants 2015

Irv's Burgers

photo by Tien Nguyen

Irv’s Burgers makes a burger that’s hard to find these days: a simple one. This is the quintessential roadside burger, with a thin, nicely seasoned patty, melted cheese, lettuce and onion on a toasted bun. The Hong family has operated Irv’s since 2000; back then, it was located a few blocks from its current space, in a roadside burger stand originally built in 1950 on what had become some valuable West Hollywood real estate. So it wasn’t a surprise when the land’s owners drastically increased the Hongs’ rent late last year, effectively evicting the family. The David-and-Goliath story didn’t quite end with a slingshot between the eyes, but it was close enough: The Hongs left their beloved stand — a “beach-style cafe” now sits in its place — but found a new spot nearby. The community followed, enthusiastically,  and it takes just one visit to see why. It’s impossible not to be taken in by the warmth that fills Irv’s, especially when Sonia decorates your to-go bag with one of her famously kawaii doodles. “Just for you!” it might say, above an illustrated thumbs-up. Of course, there is the burger itself, fantastic in its simplicity. Thumbs up indeed. —Tien Nguyen