To its detractors, there are a lot of things about which to criticize California, but even detractors will give the Golden State its due when it comes to a national obsession–the hamburger.California is the state that gave America McDonald’s, In-N-Out Burger and my favorite, the Fatburger. (My Illinois in-laws will remind me with proud vehemence that the “original” McDonald’s restaurant location (launched on April 15th, 1955) was in Des Plaines, Illinois, but the “first” McDonald’s hamburger stand operated out of San Bernardino in 1954.)
For the record, Fatburger has been around since 1952 when Lovie Yancey launched her first restaurant in East Los Angeles…and for the record, despite being the target of derision on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show monologues (undoubtedly based solely on the name), the name Fatburger has nothing to do with the burger’s composition or contents. The name Fatburger was derived from the term “fat” which in the 1950s meant you had really made it (as in Fat Cat, Fat City or Fat Times). As they say, what goes around, comes around. In the early 21st century, the adjective “phat” was heavily used in Hip Hop culture to denote someone or something that is cool, rich, entertaining, intelligent, fly or otherwise to be admired. So, fat is good!
Fatburger still prides itself in using only choice domestic beef and the freshest ingredients and condiments available. You can have your burgers grilled the conventional way or char broiled for an even bigger taste treat. The meat patties are made from fresh and lean USDA domestic beef, not the puny, frozen mystery meat served at other burger restaurants. Standard condiments include mayonnaise, sweet relish, onions and your choice of other additives (including cheese or egg, bacon or chili, or ranch dressing).
The menu doesn’t offer a lot of choices, but it doesn’t have to. You absolutely can’t go wrong with a Fatburger, Kingburger or Turkeyburger, all of which are available with single meat or double meat. Also on the menu are chili dogs, grilled chicken sandwiches and a bacon and egg sandwich.
Fatburger makes the very best chocolate shakes of any franchise restaurant we’ve experienced, the only “additive” therein being a straw. The shakes are made from hand-scooped ice cream and are served cold. Available in only three flavors (chocolate, vanilla and strawberry) and two sizes (a 16-ounce regular and a 24-ounce large), these shakes are worth a visit even if you don’t adore the burgers.
This burgeoning franchise was once available only in California, but has expanded to 20 states and 2 Canadian provinces. With any luck, one will be available in New Mexico someday. My two most recent visits were in Gilbert and Chandler, Arizona respectively, the latter being a Fatburger in an Indian casino. Regrettably, during that most recent visit, my large Fatburger was charred to a coal-like texture, stripped of any juiciness the meat may have had. It’s an anomaly hopefully not reflective of degrading performance in one of the few chains I visit.
Fatburger’s motto reads, “we’re not for everybody,” but they are for people who appreciate very good burgers. This is one of, if not THE very best burger chain restaurant in America–so good it’s hard to believe, it’s a chain.
6775 W. Flamingo Road
Las Vegas, Nevada
LATEST VISIT: 13 July 2014
# OF VISITS: 10
BEST BET: Fatburger, Shakes, Fries, Onion Rings