Top Five Cheeseburgers for Less Than $5--and Our Top Five Cheeseburgers for More Than $5

Chasen Marshall/OC Weekly
In-N-Out: A god among burgers, but OC's best?
Let's get this out of the way quick: I'm no food critic. ​
I'm just another blue red-blooded American who loves him some bloody beef and flavorful cheese on a big, toasted bun. If there's a beer and a ball game (anything but baseball, please), that makes the experience all the more merrier. 

I won't discuss consistency or any of the particulars where foodies make their critiquing claims. But I like me some cheeseburgers. I do regularly devour meals in the following three food groups: burritos, breakfast burritos and burgers (the other two may come in another post). Which is why I got the delightful task of tracking down the best of what OC had to offer on a bun--for less than $5 and more than $5.

The only rule: Each burger I tried had to be some variation of or as close to a cheeseburger as possible, based on what said burger joint/restaurant/stand had to offer. After many miles driven to the furthest burger outposts in our county (damn, OC is much bigger than I thought!), many a burger consumed and several TUMS later, we have the breakdown for what my belly most recommends, depending on your budget.

TK Burgers
Gustavo Arellano/OC Weekly
$4.29: Long considered In-N-Out's OC burger nemesis, TK is the pride of OC's burger-eating masses. Many a man has tried to second-guess its finger-licking goodness; most have been proven wrong. TK has all the key components to present a simple yet delicious cheeseburger. No flashy claims or tough-to-say ingredients. Just meat, cheese, a bun and the veggies. And like everyone in the burger biz, there's a "secret sauce" (is any secret sauce all that secret, or anything more than a variation of Thousand Island?). Though we're just talking burgers, the "Big Bargain Combo" is absolutely the way to go. TK's fries are a big part of the sell--thick and crunchy, and you're never cheated on quantity. I recommend asking for an extra cup of sauce and adding a shot of ketchup. Extra perk: There's always a nice-looking lady working the counter--that's part of the TK Burgers business plan.
2119 W. Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 673-3438. 2966 Bristol St., Costa Mesa,  (714) 662-2572. 615 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 548-2858.

EZ Take Out
Chasen Marshall/OC Weekly
$3.15: Aesthetically, the closest thing to In-N-Out without being In-N-Out, from the layout of the drive-through restaurant to "Double-Take" vs. "Double-Double" to "Wild Thing" vs. "Animal-Style", along with the general burger presentation. It looks like and tastes like a burger worth considering from time to time, but like any copycat, it's not nearly as good as the original.
310 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 650-5951.

A's Burgers
Chasen Marshall/OC Weekly
$3.89: The best reason to try A's is for the breakfast burritos or the fried zucchini. With that said, the burger isn't a terrible third option. It's a good amount of meat, and there is usually plenty of cheese overflowing onto the paper wrapper. If you're in need of a quick burger fix and In-N-Out isn't in the vicinity, A's is a suitable second choice. One tip: Pace yourself if you get the fried zucchini to go along with the burger; sodium overload is sure to follow.
Various locations.

So due to technical difficulties, we don't have an image of this one. But hey look, BACON!
Apollo Burgers
Bacon cheeseburger, $4.35: Apollo is one of those places that has been in the neighborhood for ages and goes about its business without much acclaim, but with enough local knowledge to keep it afloat. The charbroiled bacon cheeseburger is the pride and joy. Get some chili for tipping or topping, and you're got yourself one hell of a meal and a great way to carb-load.
12012 Chapman Ave., Garden Grove, (714) 971-0825.

Thumbnail image for innoutburgers_and_fries.JPG
Edwin Goei/OC Weekly
Cheeseburger, $2.65: Surely, the king, right? From a publicity standpoint, certainly. It's the California burger that even New Yorkers know about. Stacked against the legends of OC Burgers, it would probably fit somewhere into the top three, especially considering the price. But OC Burgerdom is about more than the white-and-red burger empire. That said, if I was told my last meal would consist of all the meat and cheese and "secret sauce" In-N-Out packs into the Double-Double, I wouldn't join the gods any less disappointed.
Various locations; visit for a complete list.

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