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Friday, October 31, 2014

Gourmet burgers – hold the pretension – now serving in Highland Park

Photo by Valentina Silva

By Valentina Silva

I know that two York Boulevard posts in a row is excessive. However, after trying Fusion Burgers, I couldn’t contain myself. It’s that good, and it fills a once-glaring void in the Highland Park food scene: a full-service, gourmet burger and fries joint.

Fusion Burgers sits unassumingly in a strip mall right across the street from Maximiliano, in the space that most recently housed Tacos El Michoacano. When I first noticed it, there was just a small tarp announcing the name of the new restaurant and some white paint covering that of the previous one. Intrigued, I did some research and found out the owners are Miguel Munoz Sr. and Jr., a father-and-son team who once worked in the kitchen at Umami Burger’s Santa Monica location.

That make sense because the menu is pretty similar to Umami. Some have even claimed that it’s a rip off. It might be, but for what Fusion Burgers lacks in originality it makes up for in flavor, complete lack of pretension, and location, location, location. I’ve never been a huge fan of Umami, but I’ll probably be a regular at Fusion Burgers.

The interior lacks the hyper-fashionable decor of many of the new restaurants popping up on York. The walls of the small space are pretty bare and very orange, and the only real design flair is a parrot mural left by the previous owners. The focus, instead, seems to be on the actual menu, which consists of 13 different burgers, a few salads, Mexican sodas and even ice cream sandwiches.

House Burger/Valentina Silva

The burgers ($8-$10), served on soft and sweet Portuguese buns, are well executed and accessorized. The House Burger is a drippingly juicy patty topped with bacon lardons and beer cheddar, slathered in house-made thousand island and accented with oven-dried tomatoes (an undeniable Umami touch). The Very Cheese and Bacon is similar, with the exclusion of the dressing and addition of crunchy straw onions. Another standout is the Green Turkey, which, with its moist texture, perfect seasoning, sprouts and avocado spread, makes a serious play for “best in L.A.” status.

Yes, this is the kind of place where you have to order fries separately, but their sweet potato fries came with a whole plate of house-made dipping sauces, including a very spicy jalapeno sauce, garlic mayo, and relish. Their cheesy tots, crispy on the outside and creamy smooth on the inside, are also worth the price of admission. I recommend the Pickled Plate, which covers the sweet, sour and spicy pickle spectrum.

Though its pretty quiet right now, I’m guessing Fusion Burgers will catch on sooner than later. It fills a definite niche, and it does it very well. And vegetarians, take heart—there’s a veggie burger to be had and you can replace the patty on any of the other burgers with a portobello mushroom.

Fusion Burgers
5933 York Blvd.
Highland Park

Valentina Silva writes about food and restaurants. You can also find Valentina’s reviews and stories on her blog, Eastside Food Bites.



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46 comments

    • They mentioned that they want to. Alcohol licenses in this town are not cheap.

      • Just bring your own! For customers the glory days of new restaurants are when they are still BYOB. Once they get their license you have to pay $5-6 bucks for a beer.

  1. Thank God Michoacan closed down. That place seriously bit hard.
    The Fusion burgers are really good, the service was good and I left very satisfied.
    Now only if we can get a place similar to this in El Sereno. Oh, the onion rings were bomb too !

  2. No alcohol.

  3. We stopped by randomly place was empty. Was wondering about the prices and told my self this place better be good! With a look over the menu. I Tried the Spicy Turkey after I wondered How could this place not have a line out the door like Oinksteer in the area or Umami in Hollywood. This place smokes them hands down.

  4. This place is good. Once word gets around it’s going to be packed.

  5. Burgers @ $10 need to come with fries.

    • Agreed, but they are massive burgers. I echo all the comments here – this place is no joke. The veggie burger is also out of this world.

    • I usually agree Billy, but the ingredients are high quality and the burgers aren’t small. You could easily share a side a fries, which would bring costs down.

  6. TypicalLA Hater

    Another Highland Park staple has been driven out by a hipster agenda determined to ruin this lovely barrio. I bet they even painted that beautiful menu painting that decorated the strip mall exterior. When will this disgusting gentrification come to and end?

    • It will all end in December, when the magnetic poles shift, and the planet is pulled apart.

    • Ha ha gotta love this shtick. In the interest of accuracy though, this place is owned and run by a Mexican immigrant family.

      • TypicalLA Hater

        They may be a Mexican immigrant family, but I bet they are still hipsters with an ironic mustache…just so terrible. Will these people not stop until they have driven out every party store, laundromat, water store, and recycle stand?

        • The party stores can stay but hipsters don’t need clean clothes, water or soda. Beer will only be served in growlers so nothing to recycle…

    • Aldo Thee Apache

      There’s a hipster agenda? How come I haven’t received my copy yet?
      I think the perennially indignant, self righteous victim agenda has been stealing my mail…

  7. A Different Guy

    Here’s your rimshot, hater.

  8. No such luck, Hater. The mural is still alive and kicking.

  9. What a shameless rip off of Umami. The biggest change they made was calling the “Green Bird” the “Green Turkey.”

  10. Realist, even if they copied the menu with 100% accuracy why would this be bad? I find it rather interesting.

  11. This place blows. I had the al pastor burger was salty as hell. My wife asked for her burger medium it was still dripping blood and she didn’t even eat it. The chocolate shake was gross and junky like they blended it with ice and chocolate syrup instead of using ice cream and milk. I won’t be going back.

  12. I’m intrigued. I can’t wait to try it.

  13. What’s a meat lover to do who can’t justify a $10 burger because it’s just too much food? Fast for a day or two before going? Do they have a child’s menu? Seriously.

  14. @Typical LA Hater – No, they are not mustasched hipster-types…..they are stone-cold immigrant types that were very courteous, humble and accomodating on my visit. Not at all like the tool Fleishman of Umami. A Father and Son who saw an opportunity and took a chance on opening a business. The mural and food from the Michoacan place sucks/sucked.

    • I saw them hipsters runnin that joint…stone-cold immigrant hipster types. I bet they will be serving Pabst before you know it and only serving grass fed beef rather than the REAL cow fed beef we like in the authentic HLP before hipsters ruined everything.

      • to CP and everyone who talks about “hipsters” – cry me a river. What’s wrong with having grass fed beef anyway? why is liking something because it tastes good and is healthy considered “hipster”?

  15. I went last night and am STILL full. You have to congratulate the owners for thinking “screw flipping burgers for someone else, I make the burgers anyway and I can sure as hell sell them myself.” A gourment burger joint in Highland Park…who would have thought. If you go, try the handmade panna cotta. That’s something Umami doesn’t have, and it is excellent.

  16. Ate here last night and was really impressed! The burger was cooked perfectly and the patty had a nice bit of char on the outside. The only thing missing is good (or any) beer and a bit of interior decoration.

    • If you act soon, you can still get a free paper bag with a tall boy bought from a local liquor store. In a few months, you’ll be paying .10 for the paper bag.

  17. The owners are not hipsters. They are smart , learned the craft, saw an opportunity and ran with it. Who knows maybe they came up with part of the menu at Umami.
    I’m happy to support a humble local immigrant family rather than some pretentious douchebag hipsters!

  18. Don’t forget us Hepsters!

  19. Couldn’t care less about who I’m supporting whether it be hipsters or immigrants as long as it’s GOOD. It’s a restaurant, support quality not identity.

  20. Around 7:30pm last night it was about a 20 to 45 minute wait at Maximilliano, so we walked across the street to Fusion Burgers. We had the chile, turkey and the chili burgers with an order of chili cheese fries and onion rings. We loved everything and hope to visit again soon. The family running the place are local hardworking positive people that deserve our support, especially because they are serving good quality food.

  21. Maya-I agree with every word you said! I could not have said it better!

  22. Been there twice and will be back regularly. I’d rank them with Golden State Burgers on Fairfax, but a better value (though the lack of beer is an issue). A very welcome addition to HLP. It’s folks like these who are the real job creators.

  23. Very good. The burgers were delicious. Good quality and ingredients. They have have a parking lot. Very friendly.
    The only thing I’d suggest for them would be fixing up the interior a little.

  24. They could do some work improving their veggie burger.

  25. Can you bring your own beer/wine?

  26. Business is picking up here! The good word has spread. Seems everytime I pass by I see loads of people inside. Happy for them.

  27. They changed the names of basically every single item on their menu. I’m not sure why, since that could potentially be confusing for someone who has read a review and then goes to the restaurant seeking something mentioned in a review.

  28. Great food! I was a regular at Michoacano’s, along with my dad (RIP), and before that I was a regular at Michael’s, a Pizza joint before it became Michoacano’s, now I will be a regular at Fusion’s…

  29. Love these burgers but I thought they made their own buns. Hmmm, the buns seemed different the last time I ate here. I hope they aren’t going all commercial on the buns here. The prices would not be appropriate if they bought their buns from some restaurant supply. IMHO.

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