Haute Hamburger: The Counter Sets The Table

the counter burger

Burgers are everywhere, and everyone is trying to make them fancier and fancier. But few can top what growing chain The Counter puts out with every plate.

The setting is unassuming enough: garage doors opening a space with aluminum chairs and formica table tops and surf and skateboard art. But then you notice the beers behind the bar: nearly everything on tap is a microbrew or import (Downtown Brown, Hoegarden, Arrogant Bastard). And the wine list is not only longer than many restaurants (15 bottles/glasses)—it offers several choices even the most discerning oenophile would be satisfied to quaff.

But let’s get to the main attraction: the beef. The foundation of this growing empire is an “all natural, humanely raised” Angus blend that comes in 1/3, 2/3 or full pound portions, which you embellish with your choice of 12 cheeses (Danish Blue. Soft-Ripened Brie), 33 toppings, 21 sauces and four different buns. Try grilled pineapple, roasted corn and black bean salsa, fried egg, honey cured bacon, chipotle aioli… I don’t care! Do what you want!

I had the Counter Signature Burger (at top) with pulled pork, smoked gouda and crispy or smothered onions on an egg bun. The pulled pork topping is not only good enough to get on its own, I’d bet it would even impress a Memphian. And I don’t make that claim lightly.

Each location has its own Market Selections as well, varying from Morroccan Salmon and Roasted Pepper Aioli to Smoked Mozzerella, Bacon Coleslaw, Crisp Pancetta, Marinated Artichokes.

You can also make that a chicken burger, tuna burger, turkey burger or a veggie burger they make in-house. There’s a grilled cheese made with Tillamook, American and Provolone. You thinspos will be happy to know that any of the varieties are available in a low-carb salad version known as a “burger in a bowl.” They claim over 300,000 possible combinations. I’m not a mathematician, but let’s put it this way: it’s hard to get bored here.

the counter french fries

Sides include parmesan-rosemary-garlic aioli fries (above) that are elegant, aromatic and perfectly crispy, crispy onion strings, fried pickle chips and massive chili fries that could make more than a meal by themselves (a meal you’d remember for some time, too).

And grilled vegetables. Yes, you could actually do this low-cal.

Oh wait, I lied. You can’t leave your seat without ordering a milkshake or malt. I know this might seem an excessive indulgence, but in seven mix-n-match varieties (chocolate, vanilla, peanut butter, strawberry, apple pie, banana and coffee), the Counter serves one of the best, thick, rich, perfect shakes you’ll ever enjoy. God forbid you finish it by yourself.

In addition to happy hour specials, once a week, several Counter locations offer “Burger Beats,” a late night deal with mini beer flights and creative slider combos that really kick the whole experience into foodie heaven.

And most locations serve until 11 PM on weekends.

The Counter is located at 7919 Sunset Boulevard, 323.436.3844, and in Irvine, Marina del Rey, Newport Beach, Pasadena (Hi Mary!), Santa Monica, Studio City, Torrance, Westlake Village… and don’t fret, mid-Wilshire, you’ll have one by Christmas.