Cheeseburgers in Paradise

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From fast-casual to gourmet burgers, Laguna’s restaurants offer several savory options for this all-American favorite.

By Beth Fhaner | Photos by Edgar Obrand

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Craving a juicy, mouthwatering burger with all the fixings? Since National Cheeseburger Day is Sept. 18, we toured some of the best places in town to find delectable burgers. Whether you have a hearty appetite for a giant burger loaded with multiple toppings or desire something a bit on the lighter side, Laguna’s eateries will certainly satiate your hunger and please your palate. “Cheeseburgers in paradise,” indeed.

Drive-in Deliciousness

Locals and visitors alike agree that some of the best cheeseburgers in town can be found at Husky Boy Burgers along Coast Highway in north Laguna. Established in 1951, this classic drive-in style burger joint is home of the famous Husky Burger—a cheeseburger topped with pastrami and loaded with lettuce, tomato, onion and Thousand Island dressing on a sesame seed bun. Other tempting choices include a Baja cheeseburger—with Ortega chili—and Swiss mushroom burger. For diners seeking healthier options, garden, turkey and lean buffalo meat burgers are also on the menu, in addition to Kobe beef. Husky Boy uses 100 percent trans-fat-free oils, and any burger can be double- or triple-sized. Finish your meal with a frothy root beer float or milkshake. (949-497-9605; huskyboyburgers.com)

Stellar Signature Burger

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Beef burger fans are in for a real treat at Lumberyard, where you can indulge in a premium, half-pound certified Angus chuck cheeseburger with cheddar, tomato, lettuce and onion on a toasted egg bun. Additional fixings include avocado, bacon, bleu cheese or caramelized onions. Or opt for the Signature Lumberyard Burger with bleu and Swiss cheeses, caramelized onions, bacon and mushroom chips. When paired with French fries, sweet potato fries, or coleslaw, Lumberyard’s juicy and flavorful burgers make for a perfect meal. As owner Cary Redfearn explains, “We buy excellent quality, certified Angus chuck beef and grill it as ordered, then put it on a good bun that’s especially baked for us. It’s as simple as that. We don’t need to complicate things.” (949-715-3900; lblumberyard.com)

A Burger Bonanza

IMG_9757At the casual, laid-back Hennessey’s Tavern, customers have an extensive selection of burgers to choose from. Two top choices include gourmet burgers such as The Dublin Burger, which is topped with Irish cheddar, applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato and the restaurant’s signature sauce, and the Mustang Burger with jack cheese, barbecue sauce and an onion ring. Other favorites include a mushroom burger, bleu cheese bacon burger and Hawaiian burger.

Additionally, the Moo Cluck Oink! burger comes with a fried egg, crispy bacon and cheddar cheese. For those seeking healthier fare, turkey, veggie and Earth burgers are also available. Like the veggie burger, the Earth burger features a meatless patty and includes Swiss cheese, spinach, avocado, pineapple and tomato.  Don’t miss Two Timin’ Tuesdays, where patrons can get two burgers for the price of one.

“I like to order the burger sampler [made up of four mini-burgers with cheese, mushrooms, avocado and barbecue sauce with bacon] when I need a burger fix,” Hilary White, a frequent visitor to Laguna, says of her preference.  “It’s delicious, offers a variety of toppings, and is the perfect size for smaller appetites.” (949-494-2743; hennesseystavern.com/laguna_beach.html)

Original Creations

Patrons of Umami Burger can indulge in sophisticated fare based on the Japanese concept of umami, the savory “fifth taste.” Good bets include the Truffle Burger (roasted garlic aioli, house truffle cheese, truffle glaze), the B.U.B. (twin smushed patties, bacon, beer-cheddar, minced onions, pickles, mustard, house ketchup and served with a middle bun), and the Original (Parmesan crisp, shiitake mushroom, roasted tomato, caramelized onions and house ketchup). Additionally, any burger can be served in the truly decadent Poutine Style, which translates to bun-less over fries with house gravy. Non-beef burger choices include a triple pork burger, an ahi tuna burger, The Greenbird (turkey), the Earth burger (a mushroom and edamame patty), and a lemon miso crab melt. Though there are no substitutions regarding the burgers, new burger creations are always being concocted for the “Feeling Special?” menu. (949-342-1210; umami.com)

Beach-View, Gourmet Burgers

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Guests can enjoy a gourmet burger while overlooking the Pacific at Rock’n Fish in the heart of downtown Laguna. Choose an oak-grilled Angus burger topped with crisp lettuce, tomato, red onion and pickle on a sesame seed bun. Or try an oak-grilled blue cheese bacon burger topped with Nueske bacon, Shaft’s blue cheese and caramelized onions on a grilled French roll with baby lettuce, tomato and garlic aioli. A choice of one side item, including French fries, sweet potato fries, coleslaw or spicy macaroni and cheese, complements the burgers. (949-497-3113; rocknfishlb.com)

Sustainable, Grass-Fed Beef

Argentinean-influenced Maro Wood Grill offers its customers a thoughtful, sustainable farm-to-table experience. Diners can feast on the Maro burger, an 8-ounce grass-fed ground beef patty accompanied by aged Vermont cheddar, Nueske applewood smoked bacon, organic lettuce and tomatoes, and house-made pickled onions and garlic aioli on an artisan potato bun. “Our burger is made with locally sourced, grass-fed beef from Paso Robles and prepared with artisan, organic and house-made items,” Executive Chef Debra Sims says. “The combination of the local beef, the natural  wood fire and hand-picked organic ingredients truly make this one burger not to miss.” (949-793-4044; marowoodgrill.com). LBM

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