Come New Year’s, most people are devising ways to eat less and lose weight. Lawrence Longo, a restaurant investor, kicked off 2018 with the opposite plan: Eat 365 different L.A. burgers over the next 365 days.
Some 25 pounds later, Longo is chugging toward the finish line on his yearlong burger marathon. I sat down with him at Odys + Penelope to watch him consume and review Burger No. 344 for his Instagram account, because if a burger is eaten and not put on Instagram, was it ever eaten at all?
Q: 365 burgers in one year. I mean … why?
A: There wasn’t anybody out there who’s eaten every single burger in L.A., and I figured somebody needs to be the burger king of Los Angeles.
Longo did not eat every single burger in L.A. He did eat a lot of burgers though.
Describe the perfect burger.
Not too much going on. Bun-cheese-meat-bun. If you have the right meat, the right bun, the right ratio, you don’t need any ingredients on that burger. The juices on that burger are all you really need.
In a state where mayonnaise on a hamburger is almost a constitutional right, where animal-style is a condiment concept that most second-graders can grasp, Longo’s burger minimalism was intriguing. Perhaps there was more gold to mine there: the proscriptions of a purist burger aesthete.
Biggest burger no-no?
When you can’t fit the burger in your mouth.
Given that he wants to be the burger king, I wondered which burger he would crown king.
What’s the best burger you had this year? Not including Burgers Never Say Die (Longo is an investor in the upcoming pop-up-turned-restaurant, slated to open in Silver Lake in January).
Everyone asks me that. Can I give you a list of six that I think are very special? Cassell’s, Electric Owl, 25 Degrees, Ercoles, the Bowery and the Tripel. All great burgers.
Seeing as how he would not be pinned down to picking a favorite from all his meaty beloved children, we did a power round next.
Best old-school fast-food burger?
In-N-Out or Shake Shack?
McDonald’s or Burger King?
Apple Pan or Pie ’n Burger?
I gotta go with Apple Pan. I love Pie ’n Burger, but there’s nothing more than that feeling of sitting at Apple Pan and that ambience.
After realizing that Longo and I didn’t see eye to eye on the Apple Pan vs. Pie ’n Burger situation, I had to ask him the question that was most consuming me:
Your wife, Astrid Swan, is a badass Barry’s Bootcamp instructor. I know this because I watched her demo non-girly push ups in class while she was seven months pregnant. How many burgers has she consumed with you this year?
You can’t be serious.
No, I’m dead serious. My wife has never eaten a burger before in her life.
How is that possible?
She is probably the most disciplined eater I’ve ever seen. I can’t get her to do a cheat day. To her, a cheat day is like a chocolate-covered almond. And I’m talking about one.