I made a pretty bold statement this week by declaring the city’s best hamburger is made right in Cheviot Hills/Rancho Park at The Apple Pan. Most people agreed with me while a handful of (less evolved?) individuals protested the selection. No doubt this next assertion will also make some die-hard foodies roll their eyeballs but I don’t care. My goal isn’t to please everyone but to instead make friends and strangers aware of some hidden neighborhood gems that deserve our collective attention.
Today I share what I believe to be the best hot dog stand in all of Los Angeles, located right on Pico in Cheviot Hills/Rancho Park: Marty’s Hamburger Stand! Similar to its’ neighbor The Apple Pan, Marty’s Hamburger Stand is an institution in West Los Angeles dating back to the 1950’s, famous for it’s walk-up ordering and pick-up windows, friendly short order grillers, and over-all terrific food. Marty’s Hamburger Stand is best known for offering ‘the Combo,’ perfect for those of us who can’t choose between a hamburger or hotdog for lunch. The Combo includes both all in the same bite! You read that right: the grilled dog is put right on top of the burger patty with a little chili and cheese shoved in there between the bun. And at a modest cost (last I checked it was around five dollars), you can’t beat this kind of bargain. Made right in front of your very eyes, the chefs at Marty’s Hamburger Stand never write anything down yet somehow manage to memorize every hungry customer’s order, rarely if ever getting it wrong. If kids on their tippy toes still can’t watch the guys make their food through the window, they can sit on a spinning stool right alongside and watch from there. Watching them cook is all part of the experience and tipping them afterwards never goes unappreciated.
In addition to burgers, dogs, sandwiches, even breakfast burritos on the menu, you really don’t want to deny yourself the world famous chili cheese fries. A generous portion of shoe string French fries, hot and glistening from their bubbily oil bath, smothered with a few ladlefulls of rich, meaty chili and topped with a thick slice of American cheese. Take note: it’s big enough to share. You may take your first bite and decide to keep going all on your own but trust: your heart will thank you for not dancing this tango solo. If you have any chili leftover, it’s always a solid plan to spoon some on top of your burger or dog (or both if you got the combo).
Now, keep in mind, you very well may want to savor your food and eat it slowly. This is not a good plan for one simple reason- all the seating is outdoors and you’re not the only one who loves a good Marty’s burger and dog- Rancho Park pigeons are great fans of them, too. These birds are bold and if you leave your tray unattended for even the length of time to run back for some ketchup, they’ll typically help themselves to a few fries before effectively being shooed away. This is another good reason to dine at Marty’s Hamburger Stand a deux: one person can be on pigeon patrol while the other grabs the condiments.
A few other housekeeping hints to consider before your first trip to Marty’s Hamburger Stand: only cash is accepted (an ATM machine is conveniently located on the patio) and to quench your thirst, there is an Orange Bang option in addition to the usual soda fare. Go easy on those refills though, because Marty’s Hamburger Stand does not have a bathroom. There is, however, a fire station right next door and in my experience, the kind firemen have never turned down a desperate looking father hoping his sons could use the bathroom in an emergency situation.
I hope you’ll try Marty’s Hamburger Stand the next time you’re looking for a delicious post-baseball game or mid-bike ride kind of snack. It’s the quintessential local kind of hamburger stand that we’ve been pretty proud to have in our neighborhood for well over 60 years.