My Quest for the Best Burgers in Newport Beach—Part 1

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A Restaurant cheeseburger and fries with the new A cabernet in the background. Photo by Chris Trela

May was National Hamburger Month, so I went on a quest to find the best hamburgers – or cheeseburgers – in Newport Beach.

I do have my favorites, but I solicited burger suggestions from Facebook friends. The result was a lengthy list with a few duplicates. Here are two of my favorites, with more recommendations on the way.

A Restaurant

I was invited to A Restaurant to sample a new Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon from winemaker Andrew Jones but blended by Jordan Otterbein, managing partner of River Jetty Restaurant Group (owner of A Restaurant), Steven Ackad (A Restaurant’s manager and beverage director,) and others from A Restaurant.

“We went through several incarnations and finally settled on the one that is in the bottle,” explained Ackad. “We were not trying to make a Bordeaux, we were trying to make a good reserve Paso cab, and that’s what we came up with. It is roughly 85 percent cabernet from a couple of different vineyards, five percent merlot, five percent petite verdot, and five percent petit sirah. Because it is a 2022 vintage, it’s a little young so we added the petit sirah to give it more structure and body. It is blended to make it more approachable early. I think it is drinking pretty well.”

I thought the cab would pair well with a hamburger, but the A Restaurant menu does not list one.

“It’s an off-menu item made with a lot of love,” said Ackad. “It’s an amazing burger.”

According to Ackad, the restaurant does its own butchering, and the beef used in the burger comes from the filet and ribeye scraps. That’s why only 10 burgers are available each night, so get there early if you want to score a burger

In addition to the beef patties, the A burger adds arugula, caramelized onions, applewood-smoked bacon, your choice of bleu cheese or four-year aged cheddar, proprietary secret sauce, and a brioche bun. It comes with twice-fried skin on fries.

I opted for the cheddar and was happy with the result. This is a damn fine cheeseburger. Ordered just under medium, the meat was slightly pink and juicy, the thick bacon paired well with the other burger ingredients, and the bun held up well.

The wine was a perfect pairing with the burger. Although young, the wine opened up in the glass with a little swirling. This is an easy-drinking wine that would go well with a variety of beef and poultry dishes.

Visit www.riverjettyrg.com/a-restaurant.

Olea cheeseburger and fries

Olea

Olea in Newport Beach has plenty of menu options, yet every time I grab a seat at the bar I tend to order the same thing: the American Wagyu Burger with extra sharp white cheddar, applewood bacon, pickled onion, roasted tomato, butter lettuce, secret sauce and a challah bun, accompanied by a mound of herb fries. I usually pair this with a glass of Opolo zinfandel or sometimes a smoked old fashioned cocktail.

I asked Chef Jared Cook why his Olea burger is so damn good. His answer: the burger patty is 100 percent American wagyu chuck, coarse ground.

“I tried 30 different blends until I found the best one,” explained Cook. “We add Lolla Rosa lettuce, which is red and kind of bitter, smoked onion and mushroom, Worcestershire sauce, taleggio cheese, and whole grain mustard.”

His fries are also notable—crisp on the outside, soft inside.

“We soak the fries then fry them once, cool them, and fry them again,” said Cook.

This is an excellent burger and takes two hands to handle. The fries are amazing, and this does pair perfectly with the zinfandel.

The only time you won’t see me wolfing down an Olea burger is if I am there with an Olea newbie—then I make them order the burger. They are never disappointed.

Visit www.oleanewportbeach.com.

 

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