Since Joseph Mahon decamped for north Orange County last year, the former Bastide chef has been busy. He started with a pop-up burger parlor, nights only, in a café in downtown Fullerton, then opened a breakfast and lunch spot called Early Bird in August in the north part of town. Now he's nixed the pop-up, and Burger Parlor just opened as a freestanding restaurant in the thick of things downtown.
He's got a bright breezy space outfitted with swirly glass lamps, a couple of sleek flat screen televisions and those silver metal chairs that were once Navy issue.
Step up to the counter to order any of 10 burgers on the menu. The beef is all-Angus, fresh ground daily, each pattie shaped by hand. There's the basic Parlor burger with American cheese, caramelized onions and the usual fixings, plus "Secret Sauce" and "Portland" loaded up with marinated beets, pickled carrots, sprouts and fried mozzarella. "Smokey" does it up with smoked bacon, fried onions, cheddar cheese and oven-dried tomato. "O.C.," it turns out, is a respectable turkey burger with avocado and smoked provolone.
The signature burger is the "Mahon," topped with molten Swiss cheese and pastrami along with pickles and and whole grain mustard sauce. I liked the flavors, but the chef might want to consider cutting the pastrami a bit thinner. The beef, though, is juicy and full-flavored.
He's got some killer fried onion rings (beer-battered, of course) and fries -- traditional, "snack shack" (with chili and housemade cheese sauce) and "animal" with chili cheese sauce, caramelized onions and that Secret Sauce again.
Milkshakes are coming (Tahitian vanilla bean, strawberry and chocolate). Yes! All in all, a promising new addition to Fullerton, a town in need of the chefly burgers that are all over L.A. About time O.C. got some of the action.
204 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 441-2003, www.burgerparlor.com. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Burgers, $7.95 to $13.95; fries, $2.95 to $8.95; salads, $7.95 to $9.95.
-- S. Irene Virbila