If you think swanky eateries like Spago and Koi are the only ones you’ll have trouble getting into in L.A., think again. Since 1947, this unassuming joint has had crowds lining up to snag one of the 26 stools at its long counter (there are no tables). The draw: the signature “steakburger”—a juicy, flavorful beef patty topped with mayo, sweet relish, pickles, iceberg lettuce, and Tillamook cheddar. Alternately, go for the “hickory burger,” soaked in a tangy barbecue sauce. A side of crunchy fries is an essential part of the experience—as is a heaping slice of banana cream pie.
Tip: The countermen here have been denying requests for tomato slices on burgers for decades. Don’t even ask.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.