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Meat Is Burger

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The other day we were driving along the freeway when we noticed a bumper sticker that read "Meat is Burger" and it got us to thinking about the state of the burger in LA, once again. And because we're prone to taking little trips on trains of thoughts, we remembered reading somewhere about an Oprah show airing last month that was all about the country's best burgers. We found that her guest had been GQ mag writer Alan Richman, who traveled 23,750 miles and consumed more than 150,000 calories on his mission to create a carnivorous compendium called "The 20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die." Coming in at number 15 is Santa Monica's The Counter's Build-Your-Own burger, which we found to be pretty good back in July. Richman's other local pick was his number six selection, Houston's California Burger. Not bad for one city to have two picks on a pretty short national list. But this got us thinking about the sort of dual world of burgers: the cheap and dirty kind, and the more highbrow variety. We checked out AOL's Cityguide's Best Burgers, and noticed it was split half bargain burgers and half gourmet; In-n-Out reigns supreme according to them. Over at Citysearch they're eager to pass on the scoop about the high-end buns and patties with their listing of "5 to Try." In the past couple of weeks, too, coverage in the LA Times has been burger centric; we've got a rave about the places you can go for Primo Patties, and a review of the just opened 25 Degrees restaurant in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, where it's all about the big ticket burger.

So what does this mean about the state of the great American burger, at least in LA--are the gourmet burgers a trend in fashionable fad food or are we finally giving the all-American fare the attention it deserves? Is the burger so in that it's becoming high-demand, high-end chic? Is it glamorous to carbo-load in the city of perpetual starvation in the name of image? Can the modest mainstay of In-n-Out compete with the ten dollar racehorses from places like Father's Office and 25 Degrees--or are they not even in the same race? We're just not sure. You tell us.