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With the original Fat Burger’s abandoned, decaying shell down the street, like a post-apocalyptic building out of The Road, and a slew of other fast food eateries vying for top dollar in and around Inglewood, I was headed to Master Burger with my posse of food aficionados to share a Malbec and consume a well-reviewed dive burger.

Inglewood is a haven for authentic fast-food eateries. When I exited the 10 freeway and headed south on Western, I must have passed at least two more joints that caught my eye—I was taking mental notes the whole way for future reportable junkets. I stayed on task and pulled into the busy parking lot.

My love for burger joints stems from those great childhood memories when my dad would usher me from his work (and my daycare) on weekends to grab a hamburger and a Mediterranean salad from Brea’s Best, breaking from the oppressive office building environs to enjoy the sun and some delicious grub. I strive to find burgers that make me as happy as those moments but I realize that context can play a rather important role in eating and drinking. I also know that you can find really exceptional foods in hole-in-the-wall-restaurants (and truck stops) so it was best not to judge before eating at Master Burger because the place was a far cry from Brea’s Best in terms of appearance.

We had a long wait (fairly typical of establishments of this ilk); our group of seven conversed while the endless queue dwindled slowly. We waited patiently, studying the menu like Bible verse until we could recite the differences between King and Master burgers. I ordered the Master burger with an egg (a good omen).

After the order I retrieved the bottle of 2008 Catena Malbec (#234), cut the foil and uncorked it, allowing the bottle to take a breath. I went back and continued conversing with the friends until the orders were ready—about ten to fifteen minutes later—meanwhile the Malbec opened up and relaxed.

The first thing that I noticed when I had my Master burger in hand, aside from the hulking size of the patty was the lack of accompaniment, the lettuce, tomato and mayo were present but smothered by the ½ lb free-formed patty. The patty was reminiscent of Fat Burger and it seems that a lot of these burger joints in the area are modeled after Fat Burger in style and only break the mold in price (being cheaper) and size. The meat was seasoned and griddled well but it was a little dry and the added benefits of the fried egg helped the burger ascend into upper echelons. The fries had a generous shaking of paprika and seasoning salts. They were good but they remained a side.

Washing the salinity and grease down with the fruit-forward Malbec was the best decision of the night. The fruit pierced the meat and the body and outstanding structure of the wine helped reign in my palate after the egg and meat ran amok with my taste buds. The burgers were very good and incredibly cheap. Realistically they warrant a second trip but I do not see myself hanging out in the neighborhood (food habits follow life contacts where you live—that’s what makes an expedition like this so much fun) so it would have to be a strong hankering for a soulful burger to lead me back down Western instead of dining somewhere closer to home. If you are in the area, then I would strongly recommend you visit Master Burger.

New memories were forged as the night continued (like my first time playing Apples to Apples) as we wound up in Culver City. Sharing one of my favorite Malbecs—that I have tasted—with a large group of friends over a respectable and gargantuan hamburger that blew its forebears away was definitely successful burgering. I think we were happily rewarded for staying focused despite the great number of interesting restaurants that lined the streets. It may have also quenched my soul burger mission for the meantime too. Though we received some great tips on other local spots that were not to be missed, those places and plans will be put on hold since I have a date to be in La Habra soon to taste a gourmet burger. Haven’t done one of those in a while.

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