Five Guys appeared in Southern California. And with 23 outlets now open, it can be argued that Five Guys is a rousing success. Following on its meaty heels is Burger Lounge, a chain out of San Diego that's opened its first branch on the Sunset Strip - with a sibling due later this spring on Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills. Unlike our homegrown Umami Burger chain, Burger Lounge is notable for a minimal number of selections - and an edge of culinary purity, as explained by signs on every table dominated by the words "not," "never" and "certainly not."
Situated in a mini-mall at the busy intersection of Sunset and La Cienega Boulevards, Burger Lounge is bright and airy, with a large outdoor patio, dominated by the color orange, overlooking the Sunset Strip. Service is fast and computerized; you order at the counter, they assign you an electronic paddle and a screen in the kitchen tracks where you are. As a bonus, the location boasts extensive parking, both above ground and below.
The menu consists of the Lounge Burger and the Baby Lounge Burger, along with a turkey burger, a wild salmon burger and a quinoa veggie burger. There are two salads, chicken tenders, french fries and onion rings - and that's it. A big point is made of the food being "pure, simple, delicious." It's a good burger, very juicy. And the fries are exceptionally crisp - just like we like them.
They're waiting for their beer license, which will allow them to offer a handful of craft beers. Otherwise, there are lots of soft drinks, including Mexican cola, which aficionados argue is far tastier than the American original. (And we think is much too sweet.)
The Sunset Strip Burger Lounge is open weekend nights till three in the morning. Which means it's become an instant destination for club kids, celebrity wannabes, would-be models and the various colorful characters who make Sunset one of LA's most vibrantly weird destinations. During the day, Dilberts from the surrounding management firms show up for a quick, reasonably priced lunch. The nearest competition is Mel's Drive-In down the street. And since there's often a wait at that Sunset Strip icon, Burger Lounge is a quick and tasty alternative.
Cool and cheerful - this is a chain out of San Diego, after all, where people smile a lot. The town's motto is "Stay Happy!" It's infectious.