The Lonchera Files: Flipped Out Burgers

Categories: Mobile Meals
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There are two types of old-school lonchera: the kind that serves Mexican food, and the kind that serves burgers and Mexican food. (Let's take as read a fairly generous reading of "Mexican" food, okay?).

If you wander the grounds of one of OC's giant commissaries (Construction Circle, Lemon Street, Cerritos Avenue, etc.), you will see plenty of ground beef heading in and plenty of hamburger patties coming out.

At this past weekend's Habitat for Humanity clustertruck, my wife headed for the Burnt Truck while I headed for Flipped Out Burgers, a new luxe lonchera out of Irvine, and ordered a bacon cheeseburger.
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​Bacon cheeseburgers are hard things to get right. The bacon can't be too crispy, or it'll break at the faintest touch; it can't be too chewy, or you'll yank it out of your sandwich on the first bite. This one took the middle road--nice and thick, cooked just right. The burger was very good; juicy and hot, nicely dressed without any froufrou flavored aïolis or wood-roasted rabbit food or any of that. The bun was sturdy enough not to get soggy from the grease but was still a soft bun. The cost? About 4 bucks. That is a bargain from a luxe lonchera.

The fries were . . . fries. They weren't bad, but they weren't a revolution writ potato, either. Not limp, but not especially crispy, and woefully oversalted, so that I had to use the odd, off-brand, very-sweet ketchup to cut the salt. They'd have been better double-fried--thousands of Belgian frituriers can't all be wrong, can they? Why can't we have great burgers and great fries from the same truck? (I assume Frysmith isn't going into the burger business any time soon.)

Still, this is a truck that makes a damn good burger. And it makes a damn good burger without having to put creative spins on them? The hell you say!

This leads me to the biggest problem with this truck: It's good at burgers, and it's absolutely awful at social media. There's no website, and the Facebook page contains no useful information--no contact information, no menu, no schedule, nothing. It's almost un-Googleable. The only reason I was able to find the Twitter account (@getflippedout), which has exactly three tweets, was because I had Lasik a few years ago and could read it on the picture I took of the truck.

There are two ways to get a following: be an old-school lonchera and park in the same spot all the time, like Alebrije's and Chivas Tortas, or be a luxe lonchera and tweet your location. You can have the best product in the world, but if nobody can find you, you're not long for the lonchera scene. All 18 people who read this review are going to wonder where you are--and nobody knows.

So, the recommendation stands: If you happen serendipitously upon Flipped Out Burgers, go for it. It's better than pretty much all the burger stands that pepper the county.

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8 comments
Claudia Koerner
Claudia Koerner

Aw, I was at that same event! Wanted to try these guys, but focused all my eating attention on Burnt Truck.

Christian Z.
Christian Z.

Had to tell somebody before that when you talk about Mexican food in America you don't have to say "Mexican-American" because the "American" part is implied, whether to a light or a heavy degree.

Ward Henry
Ward Henry

Dave puts together a knowledgeable review, and, of course, Arellano elbows in to show he's El Cid (on a sliding fourth-generation accent), and we the Moors are sadly be. El Típico is more like it. Solution: ignore, and eventually Gus will disappear into the South China Sea. Then some first-generation guy named Lo Wun Hung will take over and carry us to the next level: food from Hong Kong delivered hot and in minutes by radio-controlled Chinese parsley! Yeah!!

Christian Z.
Christian Z.

I think there are some places that are 100% Mexican or very close to it but the trouble lies in the fact that nobody knows exactly what criteria *somebody else* is going to apply. So you can say, "I was eating at such-and-such Mexican restaurant the other day..." and the other person can zing you with, "Omigosh! You think that's Mexican?!?! That place is totally Mexican-American." And you have to say, "YES . . . yes, I already know it's Americanized to some degree. I already know that."

Many of the places that have been conveyed to me as being the most Mexican I have found to have some Americanized elements to them such as lettuce rather than cabbage served w/ pozole, mass-produced horchata (probably made somewhere in the USA) shipped in rather than made on the premises, etc. I've even eaten at a restaurant that a Mexican family ran out of their garage in the Slater Slums only to have Bill Esparza tell me, "That's not real Mexican. That's Mexican-American. That's probably a poor Norteño family running that who don't really know true Mexican cooking techniques." I said, "What if it's a Mexican person cooking what they think is Mexican food and a lot of other Mexicans perceive it as being Mexican food and I eat it and think I'm eating Mexican food? Does that count?" Response: "No, still doesn't count because a lot of Mexicans don't even know what they're doing." "Can you tell me how I'll ever know if I'm actually eating real Mexican food?" "No, because there's no textbook answer for it."

So there's no way to get it right because somebody will always tell you you're getting it wrong. Used to bug me. Now I just accept that certain people always like to say I'm wrong. And that thousands of others just don't care.

Christian Z.
Christian Z.

Do you have any responses to my points? I try to get info from people who seem to know a lot and only get met with non-answer answers or vagaries. I'm willing to leave it at that but, yes, about once a year I do bring it up again.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Doesn't bother you? Your many sentences says it all...

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