Bang for your Burger Buck ~ Yuca’s Los Feliz Hillhurst

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Because somedays you just say “Fuck it. Give me a double chili cheeseburger.”

For the record I am not a chili cheeseburger kinda guy. I like chili on occasion. I like cheeseburgers very often. But I don’t need them at the same time. Much like the argument with bacon, good beef patties don’t need friends from the meat department. But we are at the original Yuca’s on Hillhurst; a venerable, James Beard award winning taco stand, where Cochinita Pibil is simmering away in a corner burner, skirt steaks are getting a serious char on the griddle and the cashier is practically giving away double chili cheeseburgers at a price of $5 with tax – I think you realize why I had to go for it.

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A quick survey of the many loyal customers drifting in and out of the parking lot dining area will rattle off a slew of items from the menu as favs; that’s because the folks at Yuca’s can cook. The aroma of sizzling beef hits you as soon as you open your car door. Before you order, you feel confident in testing this kitchen’s limits, even if the surface area runs neck and neck with a telephone booth. I asked to peak at the pot of simmering chili, and after a failed attempt to substitute chile verde for the standard chili con carne(I know, simmered pork over cheeseburger, talk about pushing it), I pulled the trigger on the first chili cheeseburger I would gladly make return trips for if I wasn’t worried about living past 40.

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Accolades for the burgers at Yuca’s are nothing new and greatly deserved. After a quick chili wipe down, all the evidence for excellent stack burgers are present: meat to bun ratio, char on the patty, toppings slathered on to stick-bite after bite, and just enough gooey cheese that keeps it all together. For a place that charges $2.75 to $5 for their burgers; they put more care and consistency in than places charging double or triple the price.

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When ordering the granddaddy of Burgers at Yuca’s, it is best to approach with caution, fully unwrap the beast and keep a bevy of napkins at the ready. Not surprisingly, a great bun was at work here, keeping this sandwich intact to the last bite:

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The smear of fresh flour reminds me of good tallera bread on a great torta. Yuca’s delivers whatever the genre, be it burrito or burger but when it comes to Bang for your Burger Buck, Yuca’s lands punches both on a David and Goliath scale. $5 for a double chili cheeseburger, a meal that needs no side, was a gargantuan Goliath no brainer. But equally compelling is the David like, standard burger for $2.75. This is not just about price, mind you, this is about simplicity paving the way to burger perfection, whose execution belies the need for cheese. Earlier we said that great burgers do not need the company of bacon. At Yuca’s they prove cheese is about as necessary as an ipod touch.

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Reminiscent of the McDonald’s happy meal burger in terms of size and equally as satisfying as when you would have them after school, the regular burger for $2.75 is nothing short of perfection. Never has such pedestrian toppings like lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup and mayo stand out as much as they do here. Given the fact that Yuca’s is almost always busy and a taco stand should be going through tomatoes and onions like baseball player goes through can of skoal, it is no surprise that the iceberg is as compelling as the perfectly charred and well seasoned patty. I would love to see anyone challenge this single patty, In n Out, Shake Shack – bring ‘em all on and we could see a shift in the Burger World Order. While Bang for your Burger Buck is all about getting in and out with the least amount damage to the wallet, my next visit to Yuca’s will involve a twenty spot and me doing my best impersonation of Wimpy knocking down a platter of these perfect little burgers. The best burger in town for under $3 is from a taco stand? Cmon bro, this is LA, you should have guessed . . .

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