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It was time to leave behind Tustin, trading it away for another destination, saying goodbye to close friends and newer acquaintances that would not be joining us on the trek to Compton. We arrived at the roadside eatery and took in the surroundings. A large field, with ample parking, horseshoeing around the center attraction—I had finally made it to Mom’s Burgers.

Piling out of the car we stood out, especially me, with a camera clinging firmly to my chest and my dark rimmed spectacles lining my mug. We were a mixed group of kids like a hipster clique in a different part of town.

Immediately we were asked if we were from the area, the person asking knew the answer and wondered how we’d heard of the place. He took an interest in us, walking us through the menu. His name was Devon and his recommendations were more than helpful when it came to ordering from the assorted list. Sifting through the popular items, he hinted that his favorite was Mom’s Soul Burger with added relish. That burger normally consisted of fried egg, tomato, shredded lettuce, chopped onion and apparently the relish was the only thing missing. He broke down all the burgers, listing the ingredients that had been missing from the names and when we felt good and ready about our decision we ordered. I respected our courier’s knowledge and requested Mom’s Soul burger with the extra relish and the others put in their orders.

After ordering we spied a chess set parked on a table in the seating area. We brushed up on our skills, over small talk and colorful conversation with another local by the name of Capone until we were called to retrieve our meal.

I found Mom’s to be the perfect spot to pour the Vietti Nebbiolo (#308) from Langhe—a pedigreed vintner with a penchant for beautiful labels. Nebbiolo is the grape of Barolo and Barbaresco, two of Italy’s greatest red wines that can handle a wide array of gamy meats like rabbit stew to heartier fare of big roasted meats. Best of all it was cloaked in affordability ($23 for a superior red wine). I knew this wine would have enough acidity to help subdue the grease while enough structure to prop up the patty and I was itching for the combination.

Unwrapping the burgers, the presentation was sloppy, the egg could barely contain itself and the relish was seeping out of the monster burger. It was jarring in comparison to the ABC burger I had had an hour earlier.

Presentation is never enough to stop me from devouring a meal so I jumped in, the depth players (tomatoes, onions, relish) assisted in the win for this burger on the palate, transforming a coarse, hand formed patty into to a bigger sensation. The egg also really melded the flavors with the tang of the relish, combined to make a salty, sweet combination that won over my taste buds. Enough to make it the second star of the night.

The wine did wonders too; with big notes of ripe cherry and earthy bramble the Vietti Nebbiolo was more than up to the challenge of hanging with the big shot burger. The acidity, as predicted, helped cleanse the palate and ready me for another bite. After a drawn out game of chess and a solid meal it was on to the next spot.

Now under the spell of eating too much meat, a brief respite from bovine seemed a marvelous idea. I met with another friend who happened to be a vegetarian and she insisted that we go to the Veggie Grill on Sunset Boulevard.

For two of us in the group it was our first time eating veggie burgers, I was nervous about them disappointing me because I have never been one for substitute meat, in fact the idea appeared farcical for a vegetarian to even want to eat such a thing. We pressed on, assuaging my fright and splitting the V burger.

A short wait yielded a nice, unhurried presentation—clean and simple. I recalibrated my jaw for the petite portions in comparison to Mom’s and took a bite.

The fresh vegetables were pleasant and in proportion but the patty was suspect. Not because it tasted awful but because it lacked flavor. To make up for that there was a spicy mayo assigned to disguising the patty. In a word the veggie burger was disappointing, not the fault of the restaurant because it was executed perfectly but it leaves some room for improvements on vegetarian patties. However, I was now over the hurdle of my first alternate burger experience and much more open to the possibility of eating another. Umami anyone?

By the time we left it was late in the day and traffic was becoming a reality, a five-minute drive to Stout waddled into a thirty-minute bob ‘n weave through Sunset Boulevard. We decided it was not meant to be to consume the fourth burger, and our stomachs’ collective sigh of relief was palpable. Trying to outdo my first Burger Bonanza reflected in the spots I chose and the amount of petrol I used to get there. Though I did not complete the four-burger benchmark it was a complete success filled with friends, good music, interesting variations on a burger and of course… wine. When April comes again, here’s hoping the Bonanza rides again.

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Wine of the Month

Roumier Morey St. Denis 'Clos de la Bussiere' 2008

Eatery of the Month

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Musical Accompaniment

Glenn Kotche’s ‘Ping Pong Fumble Thaw’  by The Brooklyn Rider Almanac