L.A. is fantastic. Chances are if you’re reading this you live here and you know that, but in case you don’t, take note. This town is the birthplace (or at least home to the rapid growth) of boatloads of awesome things including but not limited to: food trucks. At this point Los Angeles has seen its food truck babies off to college, and in virtually any major U.S. city you can now find restaurateurs who have noted the advantage of slinging meals on wheels to that of operating a brick and mortar location. To all you other cities, I’m happy for you, but there is no hope for dethroning Los Angeles as the Mecca of food trucks. They are EVERYWHERE, serving any and every type of food that one might desire, and many of them offer some of the best culinary experiences that 10 dollars will ever buy. I could start an entirely separate website dedicated only to the ones that serve tacos (and I might), but of those that serve burgers, one shines very brightly above the rest: Grill ‘Em All.
The Grill ‘Em All truck has been mentioned here at hood-burger before, as you may remember during the Oinkster’s Burger Week. Chefs Ryan Harkins and Matthew Chernus blew my mind with their special creation for that day, the Ultimeatum (which we discussed purely because of its ridiculousness [seriously, they put pop-rocks in it]), but also with the Bleu Cheer, which was not discussed in detail despite having permanently changed my opinion on what a burger needs in order to be staggeringly delicious. This duo of clever chefs/metal heads (in the sad case you’re too young or culturally limited to know this, the truck is a name play on Metallica’s first ever studio album) are very notorious for skillfully combining flavors you’d never expect to encounter on a burger.
The menu features 8 resident burgers, and usually a special or two. Two sides are also available, and if you get one it HAS to be the h-100’s, also known as hand rolled cheesy tots that obliterate Umami’s (which is a tall order). It’s $6 for 6 of them, which seems steep until you taste one. After that you’ll be stealing TV’s to fund the satiation of your tot habit. A couple bites of the “Dee Snyder” (peanutbutter, jelly, bacon, siracha) was all I needed. It’s interesting, and surprisingly tasty, but I wouldn’t want a whole one. The “Molly Hatchet” (seared fennel sausage gravy, bacon, maple syrup), was a delight, and probably the first time a burger has made me think breakfast. Had a fried egg topped that one I can imagine it getting a blue ribbon in the hangover cure category. Naturally though, the Bleu Cheer was what called me back to the truck.
The Bleu Cheer has a mere 3 ingredients aside from beef and a bun: blue cheese, cranberry gastrique, and Munchos. The blue cheese appears to be mixed with just enough mayonnaise that it stays put, the cranberry is not unlike the chunky version of a condiment often confined to thanksgiving day meals, and Munchos are a specific brand of plain potato chip. Theses dudes must have been high as hell to think of this, but it absolutely ranks among the best burgers that I have ever had in my LIFE. The sweet-tart cranberry and sharp cheese take turns assaulting the tastebuds, while the savory rich beef flavor is made unique by the extra salt and subtle crunch of chips (that you’d never pick out for exactly what they are if your eyes were closed). All Grill ‘Em All burgers are served on a dense and heavy (though still soft) bun, that I suspect has a good bit of egg in it. Forces combined, the Bleu Cheer boasts some of the loudest and most complimentary flavors found in the context of a burger. For burger fans with even the most remote inclination towards the sweet & savory combination, this one is definitely for you. All the burgers are incredibly rich; these guys use 75/25 ground beef AND they douse each patty with butter while it cooks. Predictably, it makes them delicious, but one would be wise to go with a group and try bites of several things over taking on a burger and tots with no backup.
For the culinarily adventurous burger fan, a trip to the Grill ‘Em All truck is an absolute must. These guys have really got a great thing going, and a cult following that only seems strange before you taste the food. If you need to track them down, check the website or follow them on Twitter, and if you want to see me stuffing my face with some preposterously constructed, rockstar named super burger, come to the gathering of food trucks in Highland park on a lucky Tuesday night . You could even try any number of other types of excellent truck food. But why would you do that?
All photos by Frederick Guerrero.