Well this was a surprise. I spent 4th of July weekend in LA, and I have built up a decent selection of burger places to try out there. We ended up being rather busy the whole time and never made it to any of those places, but I still got a burger in. After a long and almost stupidly-hot day somewhere in “the valley” (my LA geography is terrible) we wanted to grab some food on the way back. Johnny Memphis’ Smokehouse Barbecue was mentioned, and thankfully the whole car agreed.
I hadn’t heard about this place before, and it was a typical strip mall location. It has somewhat recently changed names and ownership. Not being a local I am unsure if there were menu changes or just behind the scenes stuff, and their website is absolutely of no help (I really need to push my web design services to all these restaurants, but that is a whole other story). Anyhow, this place is totally non-assuming from the outside. I have no judgement over being in a strip mall, as I have had great and terrible burgers in terrible and great looking places.
The menu is large, and has a good variety. They offer 6 burgers, which seems like a lot for a BBQ smokehouse. They have plenty of other meaty goodness, and the giant stuffed potato and pulled chicken sandwich my girlfriend and her sister ordered also looked great. A little something for everyone, which isn’t always the case at a place like this.
Obviously I went with the BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger. Applewood-Smoked Bacon, Onion Rings, Sharp Cheddar and Barbecue Sauce. I am capitalizing these words because they are all important. This was one hell of a burger. $8.99 and it came with seasoned shoestring fries. 4 items on a bun, and nothing more could be needed. Where do you even start when breaking this burger down? It requires some serious smashing if you are trying to go bun to bun on your first bite, but you will be doing yourself a favor if you can manage the complete bite. They have house-made bbq sauce in two varieties, and it is great. Real sweet style barbecue sauce, and you can really taste the honey. Even in the pictures you can see how strong a base honey is in the sauce. My mouth is literally watering thinking about it. Not in the cute writery sense, but am I actually wondering why I didn’t smuggle a few containers of it back on my plane.
Ok, so a delicious barbecue sauce does not an amazing burger make. But that onion ring. It was a beautiful thing. I have never had a better onion ring on a burger. At one point, I thought there was some cornbread involved (which I later may be experimenting with in a segment possibly titled “Failures in my Kitchen” or “How I Lost Everything in the Fire”). The batter is just absolutely stellar. And that ring was massive, and covered just about every bite of the burger. Success. The bacon offered its own hint of unique flavor too, and though it was much more subtle it was another reason this was so good. A blt with that barbecue sauce would make a killer sandwich on its own, that is if you ended up there for breakfast.
The patty here is large and mine was cooked just right. And while it was large, it had the perfect thickness to surface area ratio. With the bacon and onion ring on top, you definitely want a lot of area, and it delivers. This was a messy burger, but the meat was nice and juicy without sogging up the bun or getting everywhere. I thankfully was only covered in sauce and not grease. It reached a point where I was dipping fries on my hands, but what more could you ask for from a bbq sauce claiming to have the best sauce west of the Mississippi (I think they have a chance)? The bun was nice and airy, and complemented the rest of the burger well. Nothing out of the ordinary, but definitely tasty.
This was a total surprise for me. We stopped here so randomly, and it’s now a go to place whenever I head back into LA. I haven’t had a western barbecue bacon onion-ringed burger this good in a very long time. If you are anywhere nearby I highly recommend you go!
Johnny Memphis’ Smokehouse Barbecue
3564 N Sepulveda Blvd,
Manhattan Beach CA 90266