June 27 – July 3
Burger Week 2019
The Independent’s Third Annual Celebration of America’s Favorite Sandwich
By Indy Staff | Published June 26, 2019
We were happily surprised to learn that burger fever is very much alive on this health-conscious stretch of the California coast, best evidenced on the hashtagged social media posts of juicy, stacked burgers from all around town. And we’ve watched the ranks of participating restaurants grow each year, with 21 involved for 2019, from the shores of Carpinteria to the plains of Cuyama.
This year, to get a full sense of what’s being served, we tasked our staff to try each burger and write a brief description of what they found. What follows is their admittedly envious efforts, and their belly-filling work serves as your guide to tackling the next seven days of burger exploration, each for just $7 a pop. —Matt Kettmann
The Crab Cake Burger | The Andersen’s
For a change during this burger week, enjoy this lavish Danish restaurant with possibly the best crab cake burger you will ever have. Designed especially by second-generation owner Charlotte Andersen, this “burger” is made with caramelized onions, lettuce, tomatoes, light lemon sauce, and mango salsa, expertly balancing sweet, sour, and salty flavors that will take your taste buds on a sensational joyride. The crab cakes themselves are crispy on the outside but melt in your mouth after each bite. This might be because, like many of the Andersen’s dishes, the burger is prepared with only fresh ingredients and is made from scratch minutes before arriving to your table — plated next to some fries, of course. Don’t miss out this week on the opportunity to feel like a million bucks for the affordable price of only seven dollars. — Nancy Rodriguez
1106 State St. | (805) 962-5085 | andersenssantabarbara.com
Grilled Hamburger & Korean Fried Chicken Sandwich | Bossie’s Kitchen
The iconic cow atop the old Live Oak Dairy has seen many a restaurant come and go in the art Deco building beneath its perch. The current eatery, Bossie’s Kitchen, has settled comfortably into the space, offering a menu of items that are homemade, locally sourced, and delicious.
I popped by to try out Bossie’s Grilled Hamburger, which will be offered as part of Burger Week. The patty, made from grass-fed cattle, was juicy without being greasy. Large slices of red onion cooked in a balsamic-vinegar/red-wine-reduction sauce topped the burger, adding just the right amount of tang. Manchego cheese and thick sliced bacon add depth of flavor to the savory feast. A bun can make or break a burger, in my opinion, but no worry there — each morning, pastry chef Cristina Olufson bakes the buttermilk brioche buns from scratch. The resulting meal is a delectable burger that left this eater full and happy. If white meat is more your thing, you can get a Korean fried chicken slider (pictured) with sesame slaw and gochujang sauce. — Michelle Drown
901 N. Milpas St. | (805) 770-1700 | bossieskitchen.com
X-Burger | Brasil Arts Cafe
X marks the spot for this one-of-a-kind burger. Made with grass-fed beef, homemade chipotle mayo, and homemade chimichurri, and topped off with crunchy lettuce and cheddar cheese, the X-Burger has a clean, healthy feel to it. The easy makeup of the burger really lets you enjoy the incredible flavors of the sauces. Chimichurri is a South American magic potion made from garlic, parsley, and 20 other ingredients that could add delicious flavor to a rubber shoe. The chipotle mayo has a pleasant kick that finds you halfway through the burger. The sandwich is not really your typical burger, owner Daniel Yannella agrees. This burger is lighter, although certainly filling. It’s fresher and feels a lot like summer. — Blanca Garcia
1230 State St. | (805) 845-7656 | brasilartscafe.com
That’s My Jam | The Brewhouse
The Brewhouse’s burger is totally my jam! The burger is a funky but delicious blend of flavors that dance around in your mouth. It’s a cheese platter meets bar experiment meets burger. The That’s My Jam burger is served on a buttery brioche bun and generously smothered with a sweet apricot chipotle jam; in between is a beef patty, fresh tomatoes, baby arugula, and oozey gorgonzola, and it’s all finished with red onions soaked just long enough in a red wine vinegar.
The sweetness of the jam is broken up by the sharp flavor of the gorgonzola and goes oh so well with the cool flavors of the lightly pickled onions and baby arugula. The burger is a creation of bar manager Maria Yapur, who says she was inspired to try her hand at burgers after the countless drinks she’s crafted and experimented with. If Maria’s drinks are half as good as her food, make sure to have one with your burger. — Blanca Garcia
229 W. Montecito St. | (805) 884-4664 | sbbrewhouse.com
Jack’s Gourmet Bacon Cheeseburger | The Chase
For 40 years, the Chase has been a Santa Barbara favorite with its iconic interior that looks as if it had been transported from New York’s Little Italy, with Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling and Frank Sinatra’s fabulous voice serenading the customers. The bar serves famously generous cocktails, the beer and wine selection is good, the waiters are friendly, and you can sit outside while dining and watch the State Street scene stroll by. The menu offers every classic Italian dish brought over from the old country, but Jack’s Gourmet Bacon Cheeseburger is 100 percent all-American: a half-pound, juicy beef patty topped with a big slice of cheddar cheese, bacon, fresh lettuce and tomato, a thick cut of onion, and, for a little California flavor, an Ortega chili. The fresh brioche bun with the Chase’s special sauce holds the whole thing together. — Marianne Partridge
1012 State St. | (805) 965-4351 | chasebarandgrill.com
Cuyama Smash Burger | Cuyama Buckhorn
Founded in 1952 as a roadside stop for travelers, the Cuyama Buckhorn on Highway 166 is again in the midst of a reinvention, courtesy of architects Ferial Sadeghian and Jeff Vance, who purchased the historic spread in March 2018. They’ve already opened the Buck Stop Coffee Shop and are renovating the hotel and restaurant right now, with plans for a new lobby, event spaces, and a pool.
They’re serving the Cuyama Smash Burger this week. Its patty is smashed onto the flat top to create a sear. Then come toppings that reflect the region’s farming and cultural history: jalapeños and chipotle mayo as a nod to the strong Mexican connection, and Santa Barbara Cheese Company’s cheddar Jack Cuyama cheese, made right in the valley.
“By creating an experience and food that combines and blends the different cultures of Cuyama’s history, including the cooking styles and ingredients used by Chumash Native Americans, Mexican Americans, and rural cowboys,” explained Chef Victor Totoris, “I am aiming to create a bold, fearless, and daring plate of food that will become something you can only taste in Cuyama.” — Matt Kettmann
4923 Primero St., New Cuyama • (661) 766-2825 • cuyamabuckhorn.com
Enterprise Burger | Enterprise Fish Co.
For such a seafood lover’s paradise, Enterprise Fish Co. serves a mean and massive burger. Amid the fishing poles hanging from the rafters, the exposed brick walls, and the steaming piles of shellfish steadily streaming from the open kitchen, the Enterprise Burger arrives with heft and style. Its Angus beef core is topped with housemade BBBacon (for brown sugar-bourbon bacon), a sunny-side-up egg, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, cheddar, arugula, and garlic-herb aioli.
“It’s a fork-and-knife burger for sure,” promised marketing/PR manager and occasional server Avian Johnson as she dropped off my beast. I did indeed cut it in half, to better appreciate its piled-up toppings, but then I went all in with my hands, each bite smoky, savory, and appropriately soft. Though it looks impossible, this burger is rather easy to eat with your hands, but just be sure to have a pile of napkins nearby. — Matt Kettmann
225 State St. | (805) 962-3313 | enterprisefishcosantabarbara.com
Vegan Falafel Burger | Foxtail Kitchen & Bar
As a vegetarian of 11 years, I’ve naturally tried abundant amounts of veggie burgers. Beet, bean, rice, tofu, miscellaneous vegetables — if it can be thrown in a food processor and mashed into a half-inch circle, I’ve had it. It’s only recently that I’ve detected a surge in falafel burgers coming into the veggie burger scene, and as a lover of all things chickpea and fried, I accept it with open arms.
Foxtail’s vegan Falafel Burger has everything you’d yearn for in a Mediterranean-style burger. Its massive handmade falafel patty sits atop a vegan bun, complemented by ripe tomato, farm-fresh greens, cucumber, tahini, and an unconventional twist: pickled mango. For Burger Week, they’re throwing in free crinkle-cut fries with their year-round value $7 Falafel Burger. Pair that with one of the 24 craft beers on tap (hey, they’ve even got a whiskey bar), and you’re in for a meal that omnivores and carnivores alike can enjoy. — Ava Talehakimi
14 E Cota St. | (805) 845-6226 | foxtailsb.com
HAB Cheeseburger | Helena Avenue Bakery
What words could be sweeter than “Helena Avenue Bakery”? In nine simple syllables are all the heaven that earth, flour, and sugar could conjure — only the assignment before us was to delve into the mysteries presented by a beefy burger.
Burger? In that sugary, bakery-scented atmosphere is a protein-packed sandwich? Yes! With homemade pickles on the side, the HAB Cheeseburger delivers all the beefy goodness you could hope for, percolating enough saucy juices to require repeated visits to the napkin dispenser, which we did amid a lengthy discussion fueled by about three trips to the coffee carafe. Our table-mate, meanwhile, dug into his delectable cashew nut-butter and honey on sourdough whole-grain toast with banana bits on top. It’s apparently a local’s favorite.
As should be this burger, with its double-patty cheesy deliciousness that reminds one of that sammy that sometimes accompanies animal fries — a not-too-distant cultural cousin of the chocolate “Ding Dong” that is produced here by chefs who like to play with their food. — Jean Yamamura
131 Anacapa St., Ste. C | (805) 880-3383 | helenaavenuebakery.com
Mango Habanero & Bubba Gump | Home Plate Grill
This baseball-themed, family-oriented burger, pizza, and sandwich joint helmed by head chef and Goleta native Ken Johnston out in that city’s El Encanto Heights neighborhood is dialing up the heat and seafood options for their two Burger Week offerings. The Mango Habanero Burger’s 1/3-pound patty is loaded with bacon, onion rings, Pepper Jack cheese, and the mango-habanero sauce, served on a brioche bun. And the Bubba Gump throws their popular “Pablo”-fried shrimp onto brioche and tops with coleslaw, pickles, tomato, and a chipotle cilantro sauce. — Matt Kettmann
7398 Calle Real, Ste. C, Goleta | (805) 845-3323 | homeplategoleta.com
The Hawaiian | Islands Fine Burgers & Drinks
Despite being in town for just over a year, Islands seems like the kind of place that will be an excellent hangout spot for years to come. Upon arriving, I was greeted by several smiling faces. The open blinds filled the dining room with warm, late-afternoon sunlight, and an immediately relieving flow of air conditioning pumped through the restaurant.
I ordered The Hawaiian, which has pineapple, shredded lettuce, tomato, onion, Swiss cheese, teriyaki sauce, and mayonnaise. The burger was cooked to medium, so there was a great crispy outer char with a juicy pink center. I followed the manager’s recommendation to try my burger with a wheat bun, and with every bite, I was glad I listened.
Islands prides itself on its fries so much that it offers a free basket of fries to anyone visiting their first time. — Ricky Barajas
La Cumbre Plaza | (805) 946-0044 | islandsrestaurants.com
The Sportsman | Kyle’s Kitchen
The Sportsman sandwich at Kyle’s Kitchen brings the satisfaction of a full burger complete with a side of onion rings, while magically leaving you up for a game after. This is probably due to the all-natural, hormone-free chicken breast, which substitutes for the burger patty, and the crispy onion strings piled on top. These peppery, addictive little laces of flavor provide the illusion of onion rings but are mysteriously lighter.
Topped with bacon, lettuce, tomato, ranch, and a buffalo aioli with just the right amount of kick, this number blows most dry chicken sandwiches out of the water. The house-made brioche bun provides the perfect cushion for this tasty creation, and the creative combination of sauces, textures, and tastes hits all the bases of a great dish. Kyle’s Kitchen also offers a selection of stellar brews on tap, such as Topa Topa’s Chief Peak IPA, to make this meal a real slam dunk. — Rebecca Horrigan
Multiple locations | kyleskitchen.com
Cafe Stella Classic Burger | Le Café Stella
“Oh, this is a perfect burger. You should write that.” My husband’s eyebrows woggled up and down behind his sunglasses after one bite of an avocado-and-bacon-enhanced Classic Burger at Le Café Stella. The café is a French brasserie that sits between the municipal golf course and Loreto Plaza off Las Positas, a little-noticed spot that was handling about 80 brunchers on a beautiful Sunday morning with no noticeable effort.
The ease and comfort of the fireplace chairs indoors and the plumply pillowed outdoor sofas were reflected in the food: perfectly prepared, seasoned with restraint, and served with affable attention to the customer. The brioche bun was superbly fresh, moist, and warm; the burger patty rich and beefy; the accompanying garlic aioli and slices of red onion and tomato aromatic and tasty. We chose fries and iced tea as well; both were faultless. Leave it to the French to have perfected the American hamburger. — Jean Yamamura
3302 McCaw Ave. | (805) 569-7698 | cafestella.com
LK Burger & Fig Burger | Little Kitchen
Burgers are best eaten at your favorite neighborhood joint. Little Kitchen is just the spot. Nestled in the heart of Lower State on West Ortega Street, Little Kitchen’s tiny, eclectic space is perfect for eager lunch and late-night crowds looking to indulge in modern comfort food for a reasonable price.
On the menu are five burgers to choose from, suited for the taste of any burger lover, including those who require vegan and gluten-free options. These venerable burgers include the LK Burger and the Fig Burger. The LK Burger is the classic house burger, which includes caramelized onions, butter leaf, pickles, tomato, secret sauce, and your choice of Swiss or cheddar cheese. For the more adventurous, the Fig Burger consists of goat cheese, fig preserves, balsamic glaze, rosemary aioli, arugula, and tomato. Burgers at Little Kitchen are best enjoyed with a friend or a lunch date in the establishment’s cozy, friendly atmosphere. — Erika Carlos
17 W. Ortega St. | (805) 770-2299 | littlekitchensb.com
Loco Moco | Live Oak Cafe
When I went to eat my first-ever Loco Moco burger at the Live Oak Café, my inner sport-eater had unfounded visions of conquering a Frank Lloyd Wright creation requiring my jaw to unhinge and my belt to be loosened. You know, “loco,” right?
Delivered was a quarter-pound hamburger patty on a bed of sushi rice, covered with a tangy, savory beef gravy made with shiitake and white mushrooms. On that sat a slice of grilled pineapple and a slice of fried Spam, topped with a sunny-side-up egg and garnished with furikake seasoning and green scallions. Not crazy in size, but it was crazy good.
Tasting a single mushroom from the gravy had me hooked, and the challenge was on to get all components in one bite using fork and knife. Rich yet surprisingly light considering the ingredients, the entire dish was curiously devoured before my table mate had barely started their entree. Sipping on a Draughtsmen Aleworks’s Nama Biru, a Japanese rice lager, calmed me from ordering another burger. Hawaiian-born chef Mark Dela Cruz makes good on this classic island dish that’s not just for breakfast anymore. Mahalo! — Paul Wellman
2220 Bath St. | (805) 845-5193 | liveoakcafe.com
Cat’s Chimichurri Burger | Mesa Burger
Since it opened in 2017, Mesa Burger has been a popular eatery, thanks to its relaxed neighborhood atmosphere and a menu that speaks to the epicurean-minded, which isn’t surprising considering “Iron Chef” Cat Cora helms the kitchen. While the everyday fare already consists of an array of fancy topping choices, such as ginger teriyaki, glazed mushrooms, truffle aioli, and red-pepper hummus, Mesa Burger has created an all-new selection for the Independent’s Burger Week: Cat’s Chimichurri Burger.
As the title suggests, the hamburger includes chimichurri — the delicious herb medley from South America composed of parsley, minced garlic, and oregano and then mixed with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Add to that sliced red onion, tomatoes, pepperoncini, shredded lettuce, and Monterey Jack cheese, and you have a mouth-watering-sounding meal. “This is a healthy burger, carrying vibrant and fresh ingredients, with a Southern California vibe,” said Mesa Burger Regional Manager Pixie Saavedra, “that boasts a cilantro chimichurri sauce you won’t be able to get enough of!” — Michelle Drown
Multiple Locations | mesaburger.com
Papa Bear | Padaro Beach Grill
There may be no better place on Earth to belly up to a lunchtime burger than Carpinteria’s Padaro Beach Grill. With seaside views, shaded tables, and Adirondack chairs perfect for post-meal lounging, the outdoor setting is positively paradisiacal. There’s even enough grassy space for kids to run around and leave you in peace.
As you eat up the atmosphere, bite down on the longtime restaurant’s Papa Bear hamburger, a hearty but not overfilling double-patty creation topped with homemade chili, pickled jalapeños, melted cheddar and Jack cheese, red onion, shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, and a splash of Cholula hot sauce.
Grill owner Will Ransone said when he and assistant manager Maria Vergara, a k a “Mama Bear,” were coming up with their Burger Week contribution, they decided they wanted something with “ooey-gooey, running-down-your-chin goodness” and “a little zing-zang” of heat. Mama Bear suggested calling it the Papa Bear, and there ya have it. Mission accomplished. — Tyler Hayden
3765 Santa Claus Ln., Carpinteria | (805) 566-9800 | padarobeachgrill.com
Shalhoob Turkey Burger | Shalhoob’s Funk Zone Patio
There are turkey burgers, and then there is Shalhoob’s Turkey Burger. Fear not the lack of beef, for the popular Funk Zone restaurant’s juicy, flavorful patties seasoned with salt, herbs de Provence, and porcini mushroom powder tick all the boxes of the traditional meat choice, and then some. Served on a brioche bun, the burger plays perfectly with a condiment combo of aioli, pickled red onion, guacamole, white cheddar, jalapeño, and shredded gem lettuce.
Family patriarch Jerry Shalhoob opened the original Shalhoob Meat Company’s butcher shop on Gray Avenue in 1973. His grandkids, LJ and Leeandra, pushed the business into an outdoor patio eating space a couple of years ago and haven’t looked back. It’s become a destination for those imbibing in wine and art in Santa Barbara’s hippest enclave, functioning as both a quick stop for a bite and a rendezvous point for longer hangout sessions. “We wanted to go with turkey because when everyone thinks of Shalhoob they think of beef,” said LJ. “We just put so much effort into our whole menu we wanted to show the community how diverse it is. You’re lucky we didn’t do a veggie burger!” — Tyler Hayden
220 Gray Ave. | (805) 256-7353 | funkzonepatio.com
Uptown’s Burger | Uptown Lounge
I made my venture down to the Uptown Lounge smack dab in between the end of its weekly Monday-night trivia and the end of the fourth quarter of the Raptors versus Warriors basketball game. Needless to say, the place was jam-packed with excited patrons both on the inside, where the pool tables were covered and converted into dining space, and on the outside, where every booth was filled with excited basketball fans whose eyes were glued to the screens. Though I didn’t make it in time to participate in trivia, between that and the tension in the room from the game, I was thoroughly entertained for the duration of my meal.
Uptown’s Burger has everything you could ask for in a burger: a hearty beef patty, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, crunchy lettuce, grilled red onions, and a tasty house sauce. I had never had grilled red onions before, but the caramelization balanced out the astringency very nicely. I’m not sure if it was the way the meat was seasoned or if it had to do with the sauce, but the burger had a distinct peppery flavor that I enjoyed with every bite. — Ricky Barajas
3126 State St. | (805) 845-8800 | sbuptownlounge.com
Independent Burger & BBQ Bacon Burger | Viva
For minimalists seeking a taste of retro simplicity, a burger that combines all the elements of a cow, a pig, and an egg might seem a little ostentatious. In spite of all that, Viva’s BBQ Bacon Burger topped with an over-easy egg wonderfully manages not to get in its own way. That may be in spite of, not because of, all the bells and whistles. The simple, unadorned fact of this burger is that the meat — really, a whole half pound?! — is really great, burned and charred just enough around the edges to taste like fat-infused carnage. William Tecumseh Sherman would have been proud.
But the accent note that really carries the day is the barbecue sauce that adorns — concentric circles on the ubiquitous brioche bun — this Eiffel Tower of a Dagwood Sandwich. The bacon is fine, and if it weren’t for eggs, I’d have been dead a long time ago. But they’re not essential. Everything else, however, is. So whatever you do, don’t touch the mustard. They’re also serving the Independent Burger, with bacon, lettuce, onion, and chipotle aioli on that same brioche. — Nick Welsh
1114 State St. • (805) 965-4770 • vivasb.com
Bacon & Tomato Marmalade Burger | Yellow Belly
It’s hard to imagine a way to improve upon Yellow Belly’s current selection of hit-the-spot burgers, but it’s done it for Burger Week with its heavenly Bacon & Tomato Marmalade Burger.
This tasty take begins with a juicy beef patty topped with melted cheddar and thick-cut bacon and sandwiched between an ethereal brioche bun from Baker’s Table in Santa Ynez. The bottom bun is slathered in a savory garlic aioli, which perfectly complements the top condiment and star of the show: house-made tomato marmalade. Made with fresh seasonal tomatoes, it’s the perfect hit of brightness for this rich burger and easily finds that comfortable resting place between tangy and sweet. Going back to regular old ketchup will prove challenging after trying this delectable upgrade.
Pair it with one of Yellow Belly’s 10 craft beers on tap, such as the Boont Amber Ale or the Figueroa Mountain Tropical Magic IPA, and enjoy the mountain views out on the patio. It’s an excellent summer burger, and it speaks to what Yellow Belly does so well: letting simple flavors shine. — Rebecca Horrigan
2611 De La Vina St. | (805) 770-5694 | yellowbellytap.com