8.72: Burgerlords

Burgerlords is situated within the Chinatown Central Plaza, where it is difficult to tell what is authentically Chinese and what is part of a Hollywood movie set. Photo by Dan Johnson.

Burgerlords is situated within the Chinatown Central Plaza, where it is difficult to tell what is authentically Chinese and what is part of a Hollywood movie set. Photo by Dan Johnson.

by Dan Johnson

To be absolutely clear, getting full at Burgerlords for under $8.72 is nigh on impossible. Maybe if you’ve had gastro-intestinal bypass surgery you can manage. For the rest of us healthy adults, satisfying the entirety of one’s hunger pangs is the realm of the ten buck and up menu.

That said, I think Burgerlords deserves some attention for their commitment to not sucking ass.

I say that as if sucking ass in the foodservice industry is a choice, as if an entrepreneur spends countless thousands of dollars and months of his or her life to felch the joy out of a meal. No business owner strives to suck ass. You don’t attend weekend seminars to learn how to get your employees to suck more ass or to maximize ass suck branding.

You fall into ass sucking the same way you end up with a pill habit: it’s easy. The world of food service is brimming with ample orifices from which restaurant owners suckle the nectar of mediocrity.

Really, the triumph of Chinatown hamburger royals, Burgerlords, is their seeming indifference to the temptations of ass-suckery.

It starts with clear cut identity. Burgerlords are not “reimagining” the hamburger. They don’t want customers to have a revolutionary “a-ha” moment while eating their food. They don’t need to radically alter the way mankind eats a beef patty with French fries.

They want you to buy a goddam hamburger, put it in your face, be happy and return the next day.

That’s the most difficult hurdle: bypassing culinary ego to achieve clarity of vision.

Burgerlords are a hamburger stand. Boom. Easy enough.

Yet, I see another pit of dullard ass-suckery looming on the horizon. Will the hamburger stand offer generic frozen trash a la my arch nemesis, Sysco Medium Gauge Fries?

No. Thankfully they will not. Because they’ve got a lean enough model, they can cut their own potatoes and assemble a vegan patty that doesn’t fall apart like the feces of a lazy computer programmer living on Soylent and canned corn.

Here comes the big one: will Burgerlords serve the community? This is not your typical juke and scoot Q&A. It’s a complex question because A) Chinatown lends the impression of a neighborhood that is weary of gentrification huckster BS but B) the only time Chinatown’s Central Plaza looks like a bustling zocalo and not a dying tourist trap is during Chinese New Year and Chinatown Summer Nights.

Burgerlords proclaims itself "Chinatown's #1 Hamburger" and they just may be right. Perhaps they should also announce that they are refreshingly devoid of ass-suckery. Photo by Dan Johnson.

Burgerlords proclaims itself "Chinatown's #1 Hamburger" and they just may be right. Perhaps they should also announce that they are refreshingly devoid of ass-suckery. Photo by Dan Johnson.

Phew. Burgerlords seems to have this covered. Yes, they will serve the community by opening at 11am every day and closing at 9pm except on weekends when they stay open until 10pm. This food presence anchors the Central Plaza where aging Chinese men gather to shoot the breeze, European tourists buy kitschy and possibly racist knick knacks and, every now and then, two men get killed during a Mahjong game.

While not necessarily 8.72 filling, the meal is decent enough to merit frequent return trips. It’s an In and Out taste alike that has an upper hand on In and Out because it’s in Downtown and devoid of subtle Christian propaganda.

Here’s what a vegan cheeseburger looks like. It costs $6.50, tastes fresh, doesn’t take forever to make, doesn’t require the customer to listen to blaring techno music and comes with an option to add on fries and a Topo Chico. Yes, the owners did collaborate with Otium, but Kendrick Lamar worked with Taylor Swift and we don’t hold that against him, do we?   

The vegan cheeseburger at Burgerlords was made by business owners who made the effort not to suck at the foodservice industry. Photo by Dan Johnson.

The vegan cheeseburger at Burgerlords was made by business owners who made the effort not to suck at the foodservice industry. Photo by Dan Johnson.

I award Burgerlords a cut and dry “1” on the binary and declare myself in love, because when they kiss me with their food I don’t taste that all too typical “poop covered by cheap mint” flavor.