A Fast Food Rereview: Fatburger

Categories: Chain Reactions

fatburger_review.jpg
Edwin Goei
I know not why the Fatburger franchise is in trouble or what set of wrong-headed decisions or circumstances led them to file for bankruptcy protection a few years ago. In this writer's humble opinion, Fatburger is still one of the best fast-food burger joints we have. Now that the few stores OC has (Buena Park, Irvine and Newport Beach) are up for sale, I took the opportunity to revisit and re-taste before anything changes for the worse. So far, from a diner's perspective, despite the turmoil at the corporate level, the chain looks just as rosy as the meat between the buns.

Just as it has since the first Fatburger did in 1952, the burger patty doesn't hit the griddle until the sandwich is ordered. Bite into one while it's hot, and the loosely packed meat crumbles as a good burger should, a torrent of beef juices following. You actually taste the meat here. There's an ample amount of it, thick as the width of a finger, even in the smallest sandwich. Fatburger also remains one of the few places where you can ask for a fried egg with your burger, a small add-on that results in a tenfold jump in improvement. The pickles used are still crisp, and the onions are diced small so as to not overpower. No special sauce is employed, only mustard and mayo if you choose.

I notice that nothing has changed to the formula since I last had the burgers. If there has been a few adjustments to the way Fatburger operates over the past few years, it's only been cosmetic. Gone is the Baby Fat. It's just called Small these days. The King Burger is now dubbed Large.

And when you ask for fries or onion rings, the counter person still yells the order over his/her shoulder to the rest of the crew in Fatburger's signature fashion. Since they're just seconds from the fryer, when you pick up your first fry, it will singe your fingertips. This makes all the difference. Then there's the homemade onion rings--perhaps the best to be produced by a chain.Their success stems from one simple, rudimentary reason: they're made from fresh onions. Notice how each bite snaps and doesn't drag the rest of the rings out from the batter like those flaccid frozen ones usually do.

I, for one, hope "The Last Great Hamburger Stand" lasts.

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9 comments
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kls525
kls525

The fact that FB is still around after 60 years is no accident. BTW - Mr. Goel if you want a real treat (and it's still around), try the FB off the 405 @ Sawtelle.  I've been eating FBs since the 60s' and that particular location, to me, is closest to the original.

DanGarion
DanGarion

FYI, there is a Fatburger in Orange as well, on Tustin next to Rubios (in front of Walmat).

InfiniteMonkey
InfiniteMonkey

FatBurger is the best. It was one of the best burgers I've ever had in life and most especially when I was going to school at UC Santa Barbara.

FatBurger just delivers, no matter what.

S. Britchky
S. Britchky

Who cares about the damned price when it's still cheap compared to high-end burger places and tastes much better than the lumps served at pretentious joints where everyone is very, very careful about which beer people see them order?

I agree with Edwin and JB. Of the chains, FB >>> Five Guys >>>> INO >> McD, etc.

JB
JB

I've said this many times before, and I'll say it again: since I moved to California, land of the vaunted hamburger, I've only found 2 beef & bun sandwiches to be praiseworthy: TK Burgers, and Fatburger.

I'd rather have one Fatburger at whatever the price vs. 4 burgers from that beloved chain which induces stuttering (double double, triple triple) and serves up bland bread and lettuce sammies.

Elmo, with our frightening similar taste in eateries [excluding In and Out], I think you really are my brother from another mother. Were you breastfed sisig from Magic Wok like I was, too?

zach
zach

I agree with Digkv. Too expensive for what it is. It ends up being close to $10 if you get a burger/fries/drink.

Maarlin
Maarlin

As a former franchisee, I know first hand that Fatburger's business model does not work. Sure, they offer a great fresh product for the consumer, but for the business owner margins are very small. the quality/price is too high for a quick serve restaurant. The concept would work better in the market segment that includes Islands and The Counter.

Liveheadcheese
Liveheadcheese

That's the first thing that came to my mind...price. Rarely have coupons or specials. You would think they would adjust a bit for the recession...

Same with 5 Guys...for the price of a combo you are better off going to a real restaurant...or IN and Out.

digkv
digkv

I'm guessing because Fatburger is on the pricey side of a chain burger? I like how you can get a fried egg in their burger but it does tend to get a bit expensive... i will miss it though

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