59. The Burger at ARC


Noah Blom's ARC in Costa Mesa is special, especially in Orange County where the number of restaurants with such a ballsy approach can be counted on one hand. He butchers his own meat. Nothing but fire touches the food. No fancy appliances--but none needed. True caveman cuisine.

The off-menu burger here matches the restaurant's noble aspirations, providing a hefty, charred masterpiece meant to satisfy the most primal and carnivorous of appetites.

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Even as the Orange County restaurant scene explodes with a slate of meticulously-crafted "chef-driven" burgers, there's still nothing like this monstrosity. The bulky cornmeal-dusted bun is sturdy to a point, but it'll start to gum up toward the end of your meal as it succumbs to a fair share of bloody, dripping animal juices. It does provide a proper base for a smear of garlic aioli and a pile of fresh veggies including neon yellow heirloom tomatoes, Fresno chilies and red oak lettuce, the latter of which has been tossed in a roasted garlic vinaigrette.

(On a later visit, the yellow tomatoes were replaced with reds and there was a choice between bleu cheese or aged cheddar, which was the only option back when ARC first opened.)

You'll need all that freshness and acid to cut through the patty which is more like a flat meatloaf than a traditional hamburguesa Americana. It's short rib. And rib-eye strap. Ground down and bulked up with chunky, chewy bacon lardons. You'd think a generous handful of herbs and mellow caramelized onions would help lighten things up, but Blom binds the damn thing with duck fat. Because everything is better with some motherfucking duck fat in it.

It's so rich, it's like eating a money sandwich. And at $20 a pop, you kinda are. But it's a worthy splurge, best reserved for one of those "Treat Yo'Self" days when you point your middle fingers to the sky and scream "Diet be damned! Today I'm eating three animals at once!"

The list:

60. Chocolate Chip Cookie at Crave
61. Lime Curd At Playground
62. Every Damn Thing at Mochi Cream
63. Most Things at Devilicious Donuts
64. Robiola Bosina at Provisions Market
65. Bite-Sized Stinky Tofu at Tofu King
66. Tacos Dorados at Tortas Ahogadas Los Primos
67. Tlacoyo at El Rincon Chilango
68. Whole Pig Roast at Haven Gastropub
69. Chingaderas at Smoqued BBQ
70. The Continuous Ramen Chronicles at The Playground
71. Shrimp & Grits at Slapfish
72. Bacon Cotton Candy at Biggy's Meat Market
73. Urban 3b at Urban Seoul
74. Waffles & Chicken from The Slummin' Gourmet & Waffles de Liege
75. Ahi Tuna Tartar at Nieuport 17
76. Chicken Wings at Hashigo Korean Kitchen
77. Brussels Sprouts Pizza at Pizzeria Mozza
78. Breakfast Sausage Hash at Thasos Greek Island Grille
79. Chocolate Doughnut with Jacobsen Sea Salt at Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee
80. Loco Moco Dog at Dogzilla
81. Fruit Tart at Le Croissant Dore
82. Daing Na Bangus (Marinated Milkfish) Silog Breakfast at Chowking
83. Strawberry Basil Lemonade at Mick's Karma Bar
84. Lemongrass Chicken Salad at Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop
85. Tofu Soup at Tasty Thai
86. Take-Out Dim Sum at Capital B.B.Q. and Dim Sum Express
87. Hodo Gwaja at Cocohodo
88. Popcorn Chicken Salad at Guppy House
89. Fried Okra at Memphis Soul Cafe & Bar
90. Salted Egg With Bitter Melon & Scrambled Egg at Tasty Noodle House
91. Boysenberry Lemonade from Bautista Creek Local Produce at SOCO Farmers' Market
92. Scallop Carpaccio with Curry Oil and Yuzu Vinaigrette from Cafe Hiro
93. White Board Specials at Taco Adobe
94. Coney Dog at LinX
95. Halal Pizzas from San Giovanni Pizzas
96. Clayuda at El Fortín
97. Lunch Buffet at Dosa Express
98. The Meats at Darya in Orange
99. Panocha at Taquería Zamora
100. Bean-and-Cheese Burrito from Del Taco

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Location Info

ARC Restaurant

3321 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa, CA

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