The Best Non-Beef Burgers in L.A.

All of the flavor, none of the beef

Spiced lamb burger at Badmaash | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Traditionally, people have formed hamburgers using beef. Thankfully that fact hasn’t deterred chefs from experimenting with different proteins. Other four-legged animals, birds, and seafood all contribute to patties. Discover 10 of L.A.’s best non-beef burgers. Just don’t expect to see veggie burgers on this list. That’s fodder for another story.

Spiced lamb burger at Badmaash
Spiced lamb burger at Badmaash  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Badmaash - Spiced Lamb Burger

Pawan Mahendro and sons Nakul and Arjun hail from Toronto and now serve “badass” Indian food at Badmaash in Downtown L.A. and Fairfax Village. Their restaurant nails a number of classics, but also strays with several stylish signature dishes. Their spiced lamb burger stars rosy, house-ground, hormone-free leg meat that’s seared and piled with onion, lettuce, tomato, and cilantro & paprika spiced mayo on a soft Breadbar brioche bun.

Lamb burger at Belcampo Meat Co. | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Belcampo Meat Co. - Lamb Burger

Belcampo Meat Co. is a feel good meat emporium from Anya Fernald and business partner Todd Robinson that pasture-raises animals at the base of Mount Shasta and distributes meat to locations across California. In Santa Monica, they serve a beautifully seasoned half-pound lamb burger crafted from leg and shoulder meat that’s ground in their adjacent butcher shop. Each burger comes slathered with umami-rich black garlic aioli and crunchy onion sprouts on a brioche bun. Each order comes with hand-cut, skin-on Kennebec fries served with Belcampo organic farm ketchup and aioli for dipping.

Avocado Turkey Burger at The Bottle Room
Avocado Turkey Burger at The Bottle Room  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

The Bottle Room - Turkey Burger

Chef Tony Alcazar continues to make The Bottle Room a destination gastropub in Uptown Whittier. He’s developed a following between brick walls for burgers, and clearly has worked hard to ensure his beef-free burgers are far from afterthoughts. His avocado turkey burger features a seven-ounce patty crafted from white and dark meat. This poultry is pretty lean, so Alcazar layers flavor with creamy avocado, North Country bacon, Swiss cheese, and garlic aioli. Each burger comes with an arugula side salad.

Buffalo burger at The Country Kitchen
Buffalo burger at The Country Kitchen  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

The Country Kitchen - Buffalo Burger

The Country Kitchen is located along Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu and dates to 1972. The old school roadside stand has become well known for hamburgers over the years, but doesn’t just feature beef. They also serve ostrich burgers, buffalo burgers, and chicken breast burgers. Go with buffalo, a lean American bison patty that more or less mirrors beef. Top with “everything” and receive mayo, mustard, crisp iceberg lettuce, sliced tomato, pickles, and diced red onions on a soft grilled sesame bun.

Chicken burger at Doma Kitchen
Chicken burger at Doma Kitchen  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Doma Kitchen - Chicken Burger

Angelika Corrente and husband Stanislav Mayzalis were initially a bit nomadic with Doma Kitchen, but have settled in nicely at their Marina del Rey plaza location. Chef Kristina Miksyte primarily showcases modern Eastern European cooking, but has been known to stray for flavor’s sake. Their chicken burger features an herbaceous house-ground chicken patty loaded with dill that’s served on a grilled brioche bun with smoked gouda, arugula, tomato, and punchy yogurt horseradish sauce. Each burger comes with house-made pickles and a choice of salad or a metal pail of skin-on Parmesan fries.

Patrona Burger at La Tostaderia
Patrona Burger at La Tostaderia  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

La Tostaderia - Patrona Burger

Chef Fernando Villagomez, Sandra Felix, and Gerardo Reynoso expanded their breakout Grand Central Market stall to trendy Abbot Kinney Boulevard. La Tostaderia’s airy, glass-fronted Venice café serves a seriously atypical cheeseburger. Their Patrona Burger features a “patty” of sweet shrimp and crusty melted Oaxaca cheese, shredded iceberg lettuce, cilantro-flecked avocado puree, sliced tomato, crispy potatoes, chipotle aioli, and tangy mango, tomato, and chive relish on a grilled sesame bun. This burger gets messy.

Ahi burger at The Misfit
Ahi Tuna Burger at The Misfit  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

The Misfit - Ahi Burger

The Misfit makes LGO Hospitality’s westernmost restaurant sound eccentric, but the cooking is actually quite approachable. The grand restaurant in Santa Monica’s Art Deco Clock Tower Building features an ahi burger starring seared sushi-grade tuna, crunchy Korean pickles, avocado, and Sriracha mayo on either toast or a bun. Burgers come with pickled watermelon radish, carrots, and cucumbers. Bonus: The Misfit’s ahi burger is also available on their rotating Bar Fly lunch menu (bar only) for $5 on Wednesdays.

Santa Monica Seafood Spicy Salmon Burger
Spicy Salmon Burger at Santa Monica Seafood  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Santa Monica Seafood - Salmon Burger

The Cigliano family continues to run Santa Monica Seafood, a market-café touting seasonal catch that started on Santa Monica Pier in 1939. Santa Monica Seafood occupied their current location in 2009, featuring a horseshoe-shaped case, oyster bar, and café. Seasonal burgers include the Lobster Burger (Rockenwagner Brioche bun, cucumber, butter lettuce, tomato, lemon aioli ) and the Spicy Salmon Burger (a lunchtime favorite that's not currently on the menu) flecked with green onion and chile, served on a sesame roll with tomato, cucumber, Bibb lettuce, and gremolata mayo. An accompanying tri-color salad teams arugula, radicchio, and endive with pine nuts.

Pork burger at Wood Spoon
Pork burger at Wood Spoon  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

Wood Spoon - Pork Burger

Natalia Pereira’s colorful Brazilian cafe in the Downtown L.A. Fashion District features sunflowers in the window, art and wood spoons on walls, and breezy Brazilian music. Her pork burger involves a juicy pork patty with pronounced sear and roasted cabbage on toasted potato bread. Each order comes a side salad, or even better, simple skin-on yam fries that pair well with complementary ramekins of ketchup and Dijon mustard.