Original Tommy's World Famous Hamburgers, LA
I can't believe that out of all of those years that I spent in LA, I never went to Tommy's, a 24-hour institution out here (2575 W. Beverly Blvd at Rampart, 213-389-9060, with other locations across SoCal). I guess that I'd always been satiated by some of the knockoffs, like Big Tomy and the like (sounds like the X-berto's phenomenon down in San Diego).
Anyway, the original Tommy's is known for its chili cheeseburgers (actually, everything on their menu has chili on it), and that's exactly what I came for here tonight. Even at nearly 10 PM on a Sunday, the line was getting long, but I got my burger and tamale quickly and placed myself at the standing-room-only shelves along the walls of the shop outside, reminding me a bit of Superdawg in Chicago.
If you're wondering where the tamale is in the picture, it's on the right of the burger, buried underneath the chili, onions, pickles, and tomato slice. Actually, this chili, apparently the secret to this stand's success, was more of a baby food-like goo, rather than a more traditional chili with discernable beans and meat. And while it wasn't very spicy (some pickled peppers on the side helped), I guess I can see why this stuff is so popular; its mushiness did go well with the rest of the ensemble (the patty is very thin here, by the way). Despite it looking like a big messy slathering, it surprisingly wasn't that messy to eat.
Admittedly, I still prefer the non-chili-laden egg burger at Big Tomy's though. Maybe I've just had too much chili cheese [insert your choice of meat here] recently, but I'm glad I finally came down here after so many years to see what all of the fuss was about. No doubt this stuff would hit the spot after a night of drinking.