Searching for the best burger in Santa Monica, first stop: Umami Burger

SANTA MONICA – Some days you wake up with a deep hunger, a fierce, intense craving for a big, juicy, delicious burger. Hundreds of restaurants serving burgers line the street, so where do you go? Two words: Umami Burger. Sure, you’ve heard musings, maybe even seen pictures of the iconic U they stamp on their burgers, but until your teeth have sunk into their mouthwatering food, you know not of what awaits you.

On the corner of Broadway and Sixth street sits the answer to all of your wildest burger dreams. You enter through the cute, little outdoor patio lined with greenery, wooden tables and heat lamps.

Upon arrival, a hostess and full bar greets you to left. Now it is time to sit back, sip on a beer, and relax.

During my visit, I waited with excitement after being seated. After all, I had heard chatter for years about this burger, but the question lingered: how would it live up to the hype? Upon being brought a menu, my waiter dropped off some complimentary pickles. After going back and forth I settled on a half order of fries and the Throwback Burger: two 3.5 oz. patties, white cheddar cheese, miso mustard, Umami ketchup, soy pickles and minced onions.

As I waited, the waiter brought me a tray of condiments, and then, just minutes later, my delectable burger sat in front of me. One bite was all it took for me to know that this burger was unlike any other. The juiciness of the patty alone was enough to make my taste buds do a little dance. But I had to wonder: what made this burger so unique?  Well Umami burgers contain something referred to as umami (no surprise.)

According to an article in the New Yorker, umami or the “fifth taste” is a concept that has actually been around since 1979, and was discovered by a Japanese chemist named Kikunae Ikeda, however, it did not gain popularity until about a decade ago.  It is actually a scientific concept about a type of food thats main ingredient is glutamic acid.  The New Yorker continues on, stating that recent research has shown that the “molecular compounds in glutamic acid-glutamates-bind to specific tongue receptors; this apparently, is what makes the magic,” and what makes the taste of umami so unique.  

Umami Burger simplifies their definition of Umami, and describe it on their website, by saying that “Umami means “deliciousness.” Beyond sweet, sour, salty, and butter, the fifth taste of umami is rich and savory…Umami-rich foods include soy sauce, miso paste and bonito flakes in Asian cuisine; and cured ham, cheese, tomatoes, ketchup and mushrooms in Western cuisine.”

Umami burger in Santa Monica is open from 11AM-11PM Monday-Thursday. They are open from 11AM-12AM on Friday, from 10AM-12AM on Saturday, and from 10AM-11PM on Sunday. Their burgers, however, are on the expensive side, ranging from $11.50-$15.00 and  if you want to add fries, a half order costs an extra $2.50, while a full order will set you back $4.00.  Want the same delicious food for a better price?  Come Monday-Thursday from 3PM-6PM and 9PM-closing to enjoy happy hour!

Photos courtesy of Umami burger in Santa Monica. 

–Story updated on September 13th.