There is something to be said in this world, for simplicity.
The situation at Bill & Hiroko’s Hamburgers in Van Nuys, California is wonderfully simple, and I love that.
From the simple burger shack set up and decor, to the almost 100 year old flat top stove and at least 50 years old register used, Bill & Hiroko’s California famous burger may be the greatest thing ever.
I first got hip to this spot a few years ago when I read an article posted in EATER LA’s great series called Lifers that tells the story about eating institutions and people that have been around for a very long time in Los Angeles.
After years of the foodie movement and a virtual explosion of high priced, over decorated, over dressed burgers seemed to have taken over California, I’d been in the mood to get back to the roots of burgers and burger joints that are littered all over the place.
Instead of the famous chef deigned truffle oil infused pork patties with back fat butter, thrice cooked bacon bits that have been soaked in umami pepper arugula spice on an artisan roll delivered fresh daily from an Antartican housewives third generation stove, I wanted to go somewhere that had a flat top cooked burger dressed with lettuce, mayo and a tomato.
I found Bill & Hiroko’s.
I’m glad I did.
As you see, the set up is plain. Bill purchased the building yeeeeeears ago and continued slinging burgers to local shop workers who’d been coming to the location for years.
He met and married Hiroko over 30 years ago and they’ve kept up the quality since.
There is nothing fancy here, the lemonade is made from powder and water. They don’t serve freedom fries, or sweet potato fries or even fried zucchini (one of my burger joint favorites btw).
The combo comes with a bag of Lay’s and a can soda.
You are in and out of this place with a double chee combo, for about 7 bucks.
The burger, if you get there at the right time and can order ahead of the masses, takes about 4 minutes to cook.
Timing it right so you aren’t caught up in the lunch crowd is the key guy. I’m self employed so I can swing by around 2 or 230 and luckily that’s usually past the lunch rush.
My stomach is happy, my wallet is happy, my heart is happy.
The unfortunate thing is that Bill is getting up there in age and in his words, he doesn’t need the money anymore.
He’s doing it for the love of the people, and I’m pretty sure the same reason most people work well into retirement, what the hell else are they going to do all day.. Who knows how much longer he will want to do it.
If you are anywhere within a 20 mile radius, I say that it’s worth a trip.
Bill & Hiroko’s is open M-F, 8.30-4 . Here is their YELP