Now You Can Make the LA-Famous Irv Burger at Home

With plenty of room for improvising

August 1, 2023 6:28 am
Burger, fries and a milkshake on a tray in front of a wall with a painted burger on it.
We're showing you how to cook up this iconic burger in your own kitchen
Ira Edelman

The story of Irv’s Burgers is well known to longtime Angelenos, who’ve grown up alongside it. Originally founded as Queen’s burger counter back in 1946 as part of the original Route 66, the current iteration was established by Irv Gendis, who bought the business in 1970 and ran it until 2000. That’s when Sonia Hong and her family took over, and the Hongs built up a following so loyal that when landlord issues led to a permanent closure in 2018, the community simply wouldn’t have it. 

After just a few years on hiatus, Irv’s Burgers is now back up and running, thanks to the support of another local burger baron, Lawrence Longo of Burgers Never Say Die. The flagship West Hollywood location reopened last year — and while it’s not precisely in the same location as the original (it moved a half-block down Santa Monica Boulevard in 2014), the quality of food, local sourcing and friendly service brings to mind a simpler time. 

Front of Irv's Burgers.
The flagship West Hollywood location reopened last year
Ira Edelman

“What sets Irv’s Burgers apart is that our patties are ground daily and never frozen,” says Armen Piskoulian, culinary director of Irv’s Burgers. “Our patties are ground in the mornings, formed into pucks, pressed and seasoned to order on a temperature-specific griddle to ensure proper caramelization of the beef.” Everything else like veggies and sauces, are prepared in-house as well. 

All of these made-to-order touches ensure that everything from the classic “Just For You” original burger to the Irv’s Double, The Big Irv (with pastrami, hot dog and chili) and the Beyond Burger are so much more than fast food — even though the fast-casual style means you’ll get your food hot, fresh and affordable. “I believe one double burger or two single burgers is always the way to go,” Piskoulian says. But if you want to dive into the larger format, The Big Irv additions really, ahem, beef that burger up. “Our all-beef chili con carne is a perfect addition, as well as our pastrami,” she says. “If you like a little bit of heat, you can ask for spicy peppers as well.”

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As much as these piled-high sandwiches might be great for the ‘gram, it’s the traditional $4 “Just For You” burger that put Irv’s on the map in the first place — especially because it’s served on a paper plate with a smiley face and a note that reads, “Just For You,” written by Sonia herself (she still works the Irv’s counter from time to time, just like back in the day). With just meat, cheese, pickles and a house sauce, this iconic sandwich is a city-wide favorite for a reason. It’s also easy to make at home, if you have the right quality ingredients.

“We small batch mix the Irv’s sauce in house,” Piskoulian says. “It’s our take on a classic Thousand Island dressing that has been balanced in the perfect way to complement the beefiness of our burgers. Irv’s sauce is also great with fries.” Because making fries at home that are on par with Irv’s requires a whole lot of oil and even more patience, we’ll stick with breaking down the burger recipe for now. 

And if you can’t imagine standing over a hot pan in this heat, hit up one of Irv’s two locations instead. West Hollywood runs from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and until midnight Fridays and Saturdays; a second location on La Brea and Olympic stays open until 2 a.m. on weekends.

Recipe courtesy of Irv’s Burgers culinary director Armen Piskoulian

Irv’s Burgers “Just For You” Cheeseburger

Servings: 1

  • 2 4 oz. patties of freshly ground beef
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. softened butter
  • 2 thick cut slices of American cheese
  • 1-2 Tbsp. 1000 Island dressing
  • Dill pickle chips
  • Any other ingredients to make it “Just for You”
  • Sesame seeded burger bun
  • For the burgers
    1. Heat a cast iron skillet to medium-high heat. Butter your buns and toast on the skillet. Get your hands on freshly ground beef that has never been frozen or vacuum packed, and form into balls. Press patties into the hot skillet and season with salt and pepper before using a burger spatula to flip once you see caramelization form on the edges. Place cheese on patties immediately after flipping. Once the cheese melts, the patties are ready to pull off.  

  • Assembly
    1. Stack patties on top of each other on the bottom bun. Add pickles, sauce, top bun and enjoy. Toppings are your preference to ensure a proper “Just For You” burger.


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