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Can We Count on The Counter for a Top Burger?

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Well, it was bound to happen someday. All this talk about burgers, compounded with all the fuss over cheap eats in the city, and yet another national ranking of the beef, and we knew we needed to high-tail it on down to Santa Monica's The Counter to have a bite for ourselves. Their Bulid-Your-Own Burger is the 15th best in the country, and one of the best in the city--so how did our experience rate?

The Counter
was pleasantly full--no wait, but just full enough to remind us that this was a spot folks flock to. We were seated right away, and presented with the ordering clipboards. The choices were plentiful, and it was fun to try to construct our own concoction, though we admit we like to be on the safe side, so we stuck with the ol' pickles, onions, tomato, lettuce, relish, mayo and cheese setup on our 1/3 pounder on a whole wheat bun. Our dining companion got a little craftier, and checked off fried egg and avocado. We ordered the 50/50: A basket of fries and fried onion straws. While we waited we noticed the folks to our right had ordered sweet potato fries, but we hadn't seen them on the menu. Turns out there's a sign up front declaring them as the special, and we wished we'd had our attention directed to that, although our fries were tasty, and the onion straws superb, with their bits of rosemary clinging to their crispy edges. They served the basket with two dipping sauces, ranch and BBQ, and though there was ketchup in a squeeze bottle on the table, there was nowhere or nothing to squeeze it on! We made do. We waited quite some time, actually--long enough to finish our fried goodies well before our burgers appeared, and this was a major turn-off. But we were here for the burgers, which did, finally, arrive...