Maybe a funny assignment in the middle of Lent, but the mission was clear: Find the five best burgers in Malibu. It was a tie between Sunset at high tide and Kiddie Bowl, but this wasn’t about small mushy waves (aka “burgers” in surfer speak), it was about hamburgers.
And not even about hamburgers, but any kind of beef, fish, poultry or organic material between two buns that one can find in the 90265.
Because this author eats mostly at , with once-a-week trips for Taco Tuesday at and maybe nachos at La Salsa, this story needed help.
A mass e-mail went out asking for opinions, and Skylar Peak answered quickly and decisively:
No. 1. - Ahi Tuna Burger
No. 2. - PCH Burger
No.3. Duke's -- Huli Huli Chicken Burger
No. 4. - Garden Burger.
No. 5. - Dry-Aged Angus Burger
Country Kitchen also has the support of another local trencherman, Pascal Stansfield.
The next day, Skylar called, and added, “Don’t forget the salmon burger at Malibu Kitchen.”
That salmon burger was something I had never tried, so Bill Miller at Malibu Kitchen bro-flowed me one of those, and then that night, Josh Morgan at Duke’s refused to serve me any tacos, and insisted I try their best: the $10.25 Mango BBQ Burger. It was delish.
And now I feel like Monsieur Creosote from Monty Python and the Meaning of Life.
Starting with that, and combining the opinions of others with personal experience, here is the list of the best burgers in Malibu. There are more than five, and they are in no particular order.
Ahi Tuna Burger at Malibu Seafood: Malibu Seafood certainly offers the burger with the best view, and the menu has selection of more than two-dozen fish—from ahi to yellowtail, and also 20 varieties of shellfish—from black mussels to squid steaks.
It would take a long time to go through the whole menu, but the Ahi Tuna Burger is a really fine way to start. For $9.95, you get chopped ahi tuna mixed with onions and spices, grilled to perfection. It is served on a sesame-seed bun with tartar sauce and a side of thick-cut fries.
It might be ahi, but it tastes ono, and Malibu Seafood is a very nice, relaxing place in the sun to have a good lunch.
Salmon burger at Malibu Kitchen: “All killer, no filler,” says Malibu Kitchen owner Bill, proudly, in describing the meat of his salmon burger. “There’s nothing in there but salmon, capers and egg whites to hold it together,” he said.
Salmon is one of the healthiest foods a human on this earth can eat, and the salmon burger has no breading. For $11.50, you get the salmon burger on a rustic roll or you can get just the burger for $9.50. Ranchero sauce, lettuce and tomato are included.
PCH Burger at Country Kitchen: Country Kitchen is across the street from Duke’s, and in the same mini-strip mall as the , the and . It is a hole in the wall in the best of that tradition. This is a place some people live for, and others barely know exists. For example, when former Malibu resident Kelsey Martin was asked about her choice, she said, “Best place is that little hole in the wall with the yellow sign across from Duke’s—you know what I'm talking about? What's that place called? Best for sure.”
Skylar, Pascal and others swear this place is up near the top for hamburgers, and Skylar gave thumbs up to the PCH Burger.
Two (That’s two, Utah!) quarter-pound beef patties on a toasted French roll with cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato, mayo, red onion and pickle. All that for $7.25 and a nice view of PCH.
Mango BBQ Burger at Duke’s: Skylar’s call was the Huli Huli Burger, but manager Josh Morgan first pointed out that the Sandwich Formerly Known as the Huli Huli is now called Tutu’s Chicken Sandwich. And then he steered me toward the Mango BBQ burger. A good call. This burger costs $10.25 (for civilians who actually have to pay for their dinners) and the price is reduced to $7.25 during Aloha Hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. For that, you get a burger with an onion ring on top that holds a pool of mango BBQ sauce that coats the sharp cheddar cheese underneath. And it’s all wrapped in a bun of King’s Hawaiian sweet bread.
Sounds good? It is good.
Form and function, as that pool of sauce was there for dipping the french fries. Josh also threw down a plate of sweet potato fries with banana ketchup, but that was overkill. Stuffed from eating the salmon burger only a few hours before, this still went down nicely.
Garden Burger at John’s Garden: John’s Garden is another place where some people—like the fire fighters from Station 88 and John Philbin, when he is in town—eat almost every day. Meeting Hurley Marketing Director Evan Slater at John’s Garden about a week ago, we learned that Nike/Hurley will be opening a retail store next to Levi's beginning in July. While learning this insider information, this author had the Bu-Ben Melt—choosing the pastrami option because Malibu Kitchen doesn’t serve pastrami, and he was fiending. Please don’t tell Bill.
John Philbin is a top Malibu surf instructor who is known to some as the guy who trained Kate Bosworth for Blue Crush. But he is also an actor known to others for his shoulda-been-Oscar-nominated portrayal of the pidgin-speaking Turtle in North Shore: The Movie. To others, he is the bank robber in the Jimmy Carter mask who pops a cap in Gary Busey in Point Break.
He is a John's Garden devotee, and when we asked him, this is what John Philbin had to say about John's Garden's Garden Burger, "It's fantastic. Best thing in the whole world. It makes my day. Tastes good and it's good for you. Gives me energy and strength, and I don't feel bloated and sick. It makes me feel like I am doing good things for myself so I can do good things for the rest of the world."
Baby Juicy Sliders at Savory: A one-word answer came from Point Dume resident Cameron Farrer: “Savory.” Asking for illumination, Cameron said, “Savory occupies the space where Point Dume Chinese once dwelled. Go there, and try it, upscale and gourmet burger.” This was news to me, and probably news to anyone who never goes west of Kanan. Looking online, we find that Savory is owned by Paul Shoemaker, a culinary expert with experience up and down Southern California. He “developed a deep connection with Malibu. It’s where he got married and had his first date.” Hopefully it was not in that order, but this is Malibu after all.
Cameron is a surfisticate who has eaten fish necks in Fiji and cordon bleu in Paris. So if he says the hamburger at Savory is happening, we believe him. Unfortunately, it appears that the burger has been taken off the menu. It could return, let’s hope it does.
Kobe Burger at : Billy Wilson pitched in his two cents with advice from two friends, “My friends Condor and Cliff K. both claim [the best burger is] the Kobe Burger at the Beachcomber.” All Lakers jokes aside, Kobe beef is a luxury meat with a satisfying taste. Sounds good, and the Beachcomber is scenic.
Dry-Aged Angus Burger at Sunset Restaurant: Another Skylar Peak recommendation. Have you seen Skylar? These cheeseburgers haven’t done him any harm, and what you get with Sunset is that view to the west into the setting sun as well as occasional celebrity sightings. This burger comes with roasted garlic aioli, caramelized onion, lettuce and tomato. This is a $14 burger, and if you want to add bacon or blue or aged cheddar cheese, add $1.