Name of restaurant, such as it is: Burgerlords, which soft-opened about a month ago.
Where you are: In front of a walk-up ordering window in Chinatown. Specifically, you’re in the northern part of the neighborhood, in Central Plaza, home of the 7.6-foot bronze Bruce Lee statue, independent art galleries, fortune tellers, benevolent associations.
What you’re eating and drinking: Hamburgers, cheeseburgers. French fries. Topo Chico.
Who’s at the next table: Artists from the nearby galleries, students, office workers on lunch, folks from the benevolent association taking a break from their mah-jongg game.
Why you’re eating burgers in Chinatown: Brothers Frederick and Maximilian Guerrero co-founded Burgerlords along with Kevin Hockin. The Guerreros have spent a considerable amount of time over the last few years helping their father, Andre Guerrero, with his restaurant, The Oinkster, in Eagle Rock.
The Oinkster, of course, is known for its exceptionally thick, loaded burgers and its house-cured pastrami. That, coupled with the fact that the brothers have been running a popular, frenetic, GIF-heavy burger-focused Tumblr called Burgerlords for a few years now, might lead you to believe that the real life version of Burgerlords would be similarly maximalist in philosophy. To the contrary, though, most everything about Burgerlords is scaled down.
Hockin says they wanted to do something simple, and to do it well (that the kitchen here is only 200 square feet also means overly complicated recipes are out of the question). Thus the Burgerlords menu is an exercise in concision. You are required only to decide whether you want a meat burger or a vegan one. A single patty or a double. With American cheese or without. Fries or not.
The Burgerlords three-ounce meat patty, by the way, is made with a custom blend of short rib, brisket and chuck (all the beef is grass-fed). The vegan patty is made with roasted eggplant, garbanzo beans, barley, leeks, celery and a special spice mix. In construction, the burgers are reminiscent of the sorts you find at In-N-Out: tomatoes, lettuce, onions, patty, homemade sauce. The onions can be caramelized upon request. With such a simple build, Maximilian Guerrero says, “the patties should sing.”
Why you should try the vegan burger, even if you’re a carnivore: “Because of The Oinkster and the Tumblr, there’s always been an assumption that we’re massive meat eaters,” says Maximilian Guerrero. But — surprise — he and his brother are vegetarians. He says they wanted to create a vegan patty with “solid, hearty flavor — something that you would crave” and spent several months developing and testing recipes. The resulting patty is labor intensive (imagine roasting eggplants and prepping garbanzos and barley and leeks and celery and so on in a kitchen the size of a minivan), but well worth it. “I’ve eaten one every single day since we opened,” he says. “Sometimes two a day.”
Don’t forget the fries: The crispy shoestring fries are made from private reserve Kennebec potatoes and fried in rice bran oil, which is the same oil used to fry tempura.
Why you’ll want to circle Nov. 20 on your calendar: Burgerlords’ official grand opening party will be on Nov. 20. They promise exciting things at the party; follow them on Instagram for updates.
A Burgerlord's work is never done: Maximilian Guerrero says as soon as their Chinatown joint is up and running, the team will look into planting more Burgerlord flags around town.
Info: 943 N. Broadway, Los Angeles, http://www.burgerlords.com. Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.