HiHo Cheeseburger

Don't judge a book by its cover. Time has proven this to me in the past, and this time was no exception. I've read so many articles talking about the HiHo Cheeseburger, but upon first glance, the burger looked like any other ordinary burger with shredded lettuce. Since I was given the opportunity to try it out, I hopped onto it and got myself over to Santa Monica! 

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Upon meeting the guys who run the place, I was impressed (yet slightly skeptical) after learning about the background. They were searching for years to find the right farm to source their meat, and they happened to chance upon this New Zealand farm with 100% grass fed, grass finished wagyu beef. The beef is 100% free of antibiotics and hormones, and they had a previous location in Santa Barbara county in Ojai. The owners decided to keep the burger classic and simple with a white bun, American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles. A burger is $6.95 a la carte or it can come with hand cut fries or a side salad.

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My friend and I got one of each combo, and it was a great decision! The fries still had the potato skin on and were nicely fried, and the side salad was light and easy to eat. Now on to the main star of the show, the burger. Upon first bite, my friend and I were pleasantly surprised at the taste of the meat. The HiHo cheeseburger comes with two patties and two cheeses, and it was the perfect amount as it provided an all around great meat taste and quality. The burger tasted like the classic All American burger you've been dreaming of but never had, and the beef was so flavorful and was textured very well. With the simplicity of the side toppings and ingredients, it couldn't have been made better. It was obvious that the meat had substantial quality!

For dessert, we got the key lime and the banana cream pie; another two American classics! Although I recommend trying both as they were very light yet flavorful, my personal favorite was the key lime. It was the perfect finish to the meal as the pie wasn't too heavy but provided a nice, sweet touch to the end of the meal.

Overall, I was very impressed at what HiHo Cheeseburger had to offer! Pictures definitely do not do the burger justice, and it is obvious that the quality shines through. Come here expecting delicious food and a leave with a happy stomach!

Le Petit Paris

Le Petit Paris is a beautiful French restaurant that seats over 300 tables in on setting. I have visited once on their grand opening day, and I was excited to return to see what changes have been made! My friends and I came in during lunch time, and the decor was gorgeous as always. The high vaulted ceilings with chandeliers make it the perfect date spot or a great time with friends, and they even have a live DJ at night on the weekends playing disco and French house! 

After sitting, we started out with some drinks and appetizers. We got a homemade crostini with cream cheese truffle topped with pesto sauce that is included with every table. This was addicting to me as I love anything cream cheese! For appetizers, we got the foie gras, sea bass ceviche, and white and green asparagus with a hollandaise sauce. I loved the foie gras as it was creamy and decadent, and a hint of sweet always pairs well with the foie. The sea bass ceviche was very refreshing and light, and I loved the textures of salsa added so it wasn't al soft. Our friend was vegan, and she really enjoyed her asparagus! Perfect start to our meal!  

Next up- the white truffle pizza. We had actually requested this one as it looked AMAZING, and it was definitely up to par! Instead of using regular cheese, Chef Jeremie uses a mixture of cheese and cream cheese which made it super creamy! They are also very generous with the white truffle, and this literally tasted like the pizza of my dreams! I have included two photos, as one is not enough! 

For entrees, we got the Saffron Scallops Risotto with peas and chorizo, Vegetables Linguini (vegan), and the "Le Petit Paris" Signature Cheeseburger with bacon and french fries. First of all, let me state that French people does fries best! Makes sense as it's called French fries... but we were obsessed with these fries! We could not stop eating it even though we were extremely full, and the fries were super crispy on the outside yet steaming hot and soft on the inside. On to the actual food- the risotto was delectable! The scallops were perfectly seared, and the risotto had a nice mixture of saffron in it. The vegetable linguini was tossed in a light oil sauce which was divine! Last but not least, the cheeseburger. Juicy, succulent meat with cheese oozing everywhere... Life cannot get any better. At this point, we were way too full, so we had to take some food home. 

We did end up taking a few photos of the dessert as they were so cute, but we were way too full for dessert as we ate so much! Thank you Chef Jeremie as well as the rest of restaurant for the hospitality, we had a fantastic time at Le Petit Paris! Can't wait to return~

Ultimate Umami Burger Nine Course Tasting Menu

9 drinks, 8 burgers, and 3 sides? Challenge accepted! The ultimate Umami tasting menu is not for the weak, and the four of us went for it head on! The tasting menu is meant to be shared family style between four people for a $95 total (so around $25 per person). With that, each person eats a total of two burgers and sides, which is extremely reasonable once you divide up the prices! Not only that, you also get to try almost all of their burgers on the menu! I would also recommend the beverage pairing at $175 total for 4 ($44 per person)- for $19 more, you get 9 rounds of various drinks to sip and savor. 

We started out with their sides: thin fries, sweet potato fries, and tempura onion rings. These dishes were served with their house made sauces: diablo sauce, jalapeno ranch, garlic aioli, and house umami ketchup. The array of sauces were delicious- we could not stop dipping our sides into the different flavors! My personal favorite was the house umami ketchup which had a hint of truffle in it as well as the diablo sauce as I love my spice! The garlic aioli was also a favorite of the table. The fries were crispy and soft in the right places, and the malt liquor batter of the tempura onion rings was perfection! We got a real sugar Mountain Dew to pair with these sides which tasted so much better than the regular Mountain Dew you get in stores! 

First burger: Truffle burger with truffled aioli, house truffle cheese, truffle glaze. The first bite was heavenly, and I loved how the cheese oozed out of the burger! We were still starving at this point, so this burger was devoured in seconds. This burger was paired with the Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout; stouts are typically dark and bitter and this was no exception. I am personally not a fan of stouts, but I can see how it paired with the burger well!  

The Manly burger with house beer cheddar cheese, bacon, lardons, smoked-salt onion strings, and Umami house ketchup mustard spread was next, and this was just my type! It did feel manly indeed, and this was one of my favorites especially with the drink pairing! Of course, you can't be a man without a maple bacon old fashioned which was tasty. 

Burger three and still going strong! The Ahi Tuna burger with seared ahi tuna patty, daikon, sprouts, crushed avocado, gingered carrots, wasabi flake, and wasabi tartar was a light and refreshing burger compared to the first two. The carrot added a nice crunch complement to the ahi, and the fish was fresh! This burger was paired with the Victory Golden Monkey (all the way to the right in the photo below). This beer was lighter than the stout which I found perfect for this burger! 

The Hatch burger with roasted hatch chiles, house cali cheese, and roasted garlic aioli had a nice kick to it! It reminded me of a Mexican fusion burger but even better. This was paired with the Velvet Mule which included Tito's Handmade Vodka, velvet falernum, fresh lime juice, ginger beer, bitters, and mint. The drink was another highlight of the meal- I love how they added a touch of velvet to it! At this point, we all devoured one burger each and we were starting to slow down. 

Turkey anyone? The Greenbird burger with turkey patty, crushed avocado, green cheese, butter lettuce, sprouts, and green goddess was my friend's go to burger when she visits Umami, and I can see why! This is her healthy alternative, and I've never had such a yummy turkey patty! Add avocado and cheese- it's a win for me! This burger was paired with a light and crisp white wine, the 2014 Laurenz Gruner Vetliner. 

Really starting to slow down at this point... the Cali burger with butter lettuce, roasted tomato, carmelized onions, house spread, and house cali cheese was a blur to me. We were starting to question our life decisions, which was uncanny timing for the Spicy Mezcalrita with Lunazul blanco tequila, pomegranate liqueur infused with cucumber and serrano pepper, fresh juices topped with Xicaru Mezcal and Cointreau foam. The drink had a kick to it, and it woke us up out of our daze! 

Time for a throwback.. to another burger! The Throwback burger with two 3.5 oz seared beef patties, white cheddar cheese, miso mustard, Umami house ketchup, soy pickles, and minced onions was my favorite hands down! The two patties were so succulent and just dripping in juice.. Even though I was stuffed, I finished my portion! My mouth is watering talking about this.... the burger was paired with real sugar Pepsi (not pictured) which was fitting! 

Last but not least, the famous Umami burger with parmesan frico, shiitake mushroom, roasted tomato, carmelized onions, and Umami house ketchup. We were completely done from the Throwback burger, so we ended up taking this one to go. This was paired with the 2013 Seghesio Zinfandel (not pictured).

We ended up almost finishing two burgers, which is pretty impressive in my opinion as the tasting lasted around 2 hours (more reason for the food to settle in). Truth be told, we weren't able to finish our beers, but I definitely finished all of the other drinks! My friends and I had a wonderful experience with the tasting menu, and I'm so glad I got to try basically every burger at Umami as I would not have tried them otherwise! Thank you Umami for having us, this meal is definitely one for the books! 

 Tasting Menu for Reference 

Tasting Menu for Reference 

The Black Sheep

Looking for a delicious, juicy burger to satisfy your hunger? Black Sheep can help you solve that! Located right next to Cole's, this restaurant is almost hidden due to its lack of signage and subtle entrance. However, the restaurant was pretty packed when we went, and it seems that locals are a frequent visitor at this gastropub! 

Black Sheep offers wine, beer, soju (bombs), and sake, so they have a great array of alcohol if you want to chill and drink with your friends. They switch out their craft beers on top every week, so there's always something new to try! I got the pear cider which was crisp and light, I actually like it better than the typical hard cider. 

Since we came with a big group of friends, we decided to literally order... everything on the menu to share. Of course, we had to get the renowned Black Sheep Burger, as well as the midnight & banh mi sliders, the cheesesteak, the great grilled cheese, carne asada tots, and the bacon chili cheese fries. 

The Black Sheep Burger with arugula, gouda cheese, bacon, carmelized onions, and garlic aioli was heavenly- everything paired so well together and the meat was so succulent and juicy! I fell in love with this one as it is simple yet amazing. 

 The Black Sheep Burger

The Black Sheep Burger

Midnight Sliders with pork sausage, hashbrown, fried egg, cheese, chipotle aioli- this is like a breakfast slider, but for dinner, and it is just fantastic. The hashbrown adds a nice crisp to the overall slider, and they really nailed this one!

 Midnight Slider

Midnight Slider

Banh Mi Sliders with sweet pork, carrots, daikon, chinese sausage, vietnamese mayo- this was actually my friends' favorite! The sausage actually went really well with everything! 

Cheesesteak, short rib, grilled onions, hot peppers, mushrooms, cheese wiz- this was the surprise of the night, as it was better than I thought it would taste! The quality of the short rib was amazing, and with everything combined, this was personally my favorite! I could not stop eating this sandwich. 

 Cheesesteak 

Cheesesteak 

Great Grilled Cheese with meat, melted cheese, bread- this one was solid! Not as remarkable compared to the other sandwiches though. 

 Great Grilled Cheese

Great Grilled Cheese

Carne Asada Tots- this was my favorite side as the meat and the sauce made the tots super flavorful. I loved the combination of everything together! This is a must order to pair with your burger. 

Everything we had at The Black Sheep highly surpassed my expectations; the pictures don't do their burgers justice! I was impressed at how juicy and flavorful their burgers were, and I love how they rotate their beers often. Next time around, we definitely need to check out their sausages- they have a good variety that we have not managed to tap into.

GD Bro Burger

2321 E 4th St
Santa Ana, CA 92705

I love a good burger, and GD Bro Burger definitely does it best! Located in Santa Ana where Toros Burger used to be, GD Bro has changed the definition of your average burger and turned it into something spectacular. There is a giant menu on the wall to your left while walking in, and I ended up ordering everything as my friends couldn't decide what they wanted. 

Italian Stallion with mozzerella sticks, pepperoni and spinach, pizza sauce, and ranch- Mozzerella sticks are yummy, and mozzerella sticks in a burger!? So down!! This burger is like a hybrid baby of a burger and pizza, and it was totally unique. I'm glad I tried this as the mix was surprisingly good! If you love pizza and burgers, get this one!  

 Italian Stallion

Italian Stallion

Juan and Only with Jalapeno cream cheese, pico de gallo, and avocado chipotle mayo- They have the option of the regular golden brown buns or the raspberry buns, and we decided to get this burger in the regular bun. This one was one of my favorites as the flavor of the pico de gallo and the jalapeno really added a nice kick to the burger. The meat was super juicy and flavorful, and we killed this burger within minutes. 

 Juan & Only

Juan & Only

KBBQ Poutine Burger with mozzerella cheese, kbbq shortrib, homemade gravy, and chives- This one was recommended to me by a friend, and it was also another fantastic burger. The kbbq meat added a sweet and tangy flavor to the burger, and it really finished off the burger well. Definitely order this if you're a giant kbbq fan! 

 KBBQ Poutine Burger

KBBQ Poutine Burger

Consuela fries- we added a fried egg to this, and we loved it. The fries come with pico de gallo, avocado, and sauce, and it was delicious. I would highly recommend ordering this with your meal to share with friends or all to yourself if you can finish it. I wish I tried the other fries, but there's always next time! 

 Consuela Fries

Consuela Fries

Lemonade- they offer watermelon, pineapple, and cucumber spinach. We ended up ordering all three, because after trying the samples, we fell in love! They were all so refreshing, but my personal favorite was the watermelon lemonade. 

Last but not least, a red velvet milkshake to top off our meal! The milkshake looks smaller than in photos which is good as it is a very heavy drink to finish. We couldn't finish it, but it was pretty good! It is more on the sweet side though; I enjoyed it as I love sweets, but my friends thought it was a little too sweet. 

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GD Bro Burger has the whole package down in terms of food, drinks, desserts, and service. The cashier checked up on the tables after we got our food which was unnecessary but really nice. The quality of the meat in the burger is the most important part for me, and they do it right here. The thought and creativity they put in their burgers really show here, and I'm glad the execution is as great as the concept. I wish there was a closer location to me in LA as Santa Ana is so far! Can't wait for the Long Beach opening though!

El Toro Burger

2321 E 4th St
Santa Ana, CA 92705

This place was on my bookmarks and was one of the few places open on Easter Sunday so we decided to pay El Toro Burger a visit! At first glance, the restaurant is super casual with order at the counter and seat yourself. However, the menu was far from casual, as it boasted green, red, and black buns for their burgers and their famous ramen burger. They gave us samples of their spinach lemonade which was actually really refreshing, and the guy also gave us recommendations on their burgers.

We ended up ordering the truffle cheeseburger, the ghost burger, and the cheese tator tots. For drinks, we had the strawberry lemonade and the spinach lemonade. 

The food came out pretty fast, and we were impressed. Although they do not look like their professional photos (epic food styling of course), they still looked pretty damn good. My truffle cheeseburger with the raspberry bun was delicious. The fries were crisp, and the meat was juicy and tender. Loved the amount of cheese on the burger! You could actually taste a hint of the raspberry in the bun which was super cool. The burger was surprisingly heavy, so it was actually hard for me to finish. 

The ghost burger was also really good. With fried onion rings, ghost pepper jack cheese, lettuce, and other toppings, the combination made for a really nice, textured burger bursting of flavor. The ghost pepper was spicy, but not too spicy that it was unbearable. The onion rings were nice and crispy, and everything together was super yummy! Can't decide which one I liked better.

The cheese tator tots didn't have enough cheese, but the tots themselves were nice and crunchy. Overall, a really yummy but heavy lunch we had. I can't wait to come back to try their famous ramen burger and get a black bun! Yum!