It was Carmageddon weekend and I was looking to keep it easy while having a burger with a friend, determined to not let my early shift slip away. I allowed my buddy Jeremy to pick the place, somewhere close to his house, serving interesting burgers for not too much money. This was my time to experiment with Billy’s Grill.

When I got off work, I made it up the 405 before the closure (with hours to spare), meeting up with Jeremy at his newly christened place. After a quick tour around the apartment and a briefing on two different burger joints around the immediate area I carefully weighed the information and selected Billy’s Grill, saving the alternate choice for another visit another day.

A few minutes of driving, enough to get through one track—an a cappella piece from TV on the Radio (they have been a primary summertime band) and we had arrived in a relatively modern strip mall with ample parking off Van Nuys.

The place was empty and dark; the owner was sitting alone watching sports highlights on ESPN, and we both paused, spelling out the odd site in our minds. When he spotted us, he fixed the lights, manipulating the menu lighting with a wooden switch and then greeting us. We gave the menu you a once over but in being briefed on the place, I was under the impression that these guys made a bona fide buffalo burger. Without a pause, I placed my order for the said burger with a Dr. Pepper and Jeremy nearly followed suit but added cheese and an order of skinny fries.

One concern for me was the price, I was flirting with the idea of going ostrich patty but the price deterred me, going frugal mode I played the miser and ordered a buffalo patty for just less than eight dollars.  An interesting tidbit for me was watching the owner do it all, cooking the meat by griddle, taking the orders and being friendly.

When the burgers were brought to our table, I began my photo shoot, working my flash and camera to catch the perfect angle before ruining the presentation. The twin buffalo burgers sat in wicker baskets with fresh wax paper wrapped tightly around the sandwich and lining the basket. It was small, especially for the price, there were no bones about it, but it was fresh and enjoyable. The quarter inch patty was seasoned perfectly and the flavor was a little fuller than a normal beef patty. The thousand islands application was in proportion unlike so many burgers of this ilk. Nothing cloying just me wishing for a little bit more.

After our outing, we drove back in little time, sharing our thoughts on the meal. We agreed that it was solid but something was lacking for me. It was hard to put my finger on it because the execution was almost textbook but it was a bit boring.

When I headed back to my apartment—hours later—I was forced wide of the 405, Carmageddon was underway and though rerouted, I was virtually unscathed by LA traffic. Carmageddon was successfully avoided by the city of LA, failing to take place while Billy’s grill failed to enthrall me. The weekend wasn’t as lively as billed.