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Arts and Entertainment

Recession Obsession: Capitol Burgers

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Understated beauty. Photo courtesy 7552532@N07 via Flickr.

A Recession Obsession is, 1) a meal so great that it sticks in your mind long after digestion's end, and, 2) plays nice with your sensitive wallet. Is there a better place than Los Angeles to eat a wide variety of amazing food that so happens to be inexpensive? Probably not. We're as lucky as we are well fed. We last obsessed over Mozza2Go. Today we obsess...

In this town, burgers are like agents: everybody’s got one. Wait, that’s not quite right. But at least you get the idea: there’s no shortage of burger opinions, as we’ve already seen plenty of on this site. But one thing we should all be able to get behind is simple, delicious, cheap food.

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Capitol Burger on Pico Boulevard in Mid City certainly has that rough exterior thing down pat. Nestled cozily in the middle of a forlorn parking lot where pigeons pester from signs declaring great deals for quinceañeras, less-than-charming ex cons stand inside the shack and wait to scribble down your order on a piece of scrap cardboard. Don’t bother calling your order in, the rotary phone has been ringing since the decade it was bought. If only because your food is slid to you Escape From Alcatraz-style under a row of metal bars in a cropped Bud Clamato box, Capitol Burger is our latest Recession Obsession.

And to think, we haven’t even gotten to the food or the price yet. Suffice it to say, $5 lets you eat like a grease king here. The burgers (try the double) are perfectly seasoned beef patties smashed into taste submission either by the most darling octogenarian to ever man a grill, or who looks impossibly like Tex Cobb in Raising Arizona. Seriously. Then there’s the fries, each one a grease torpedo with homing devices aimed at your arteries. They’re thin cut fresh, fried perfectly, and so plentiful you’ll be hard-pressed to get through them all before the milkshake coma kicks in. Oh yeah, they’ve got milkshakes too. If you’ve never politely asked a felon to make you a Neapolitan shake, now is the time. That is, if you don’t want to come back for the smothered tamales or out-of-this-world pastrami. Your call.

Everyone’s always looking for that kitschy little food spot that time forgot, which is why places like Johnny Rockets still manage to pull in the overfed and under-intelligent crowd. But at Capitol Burger, half a block west of Crenshaw in the heart of that section of Pico Boulevard you speed up just to get through, you can rest assured time tried to take them quite awhile ago, but only managed to stagger home with a black eye and full stomach.

Capitol Burger | 4301 W. Pico Boulevard | Los Angeles, CA 90019