Restaurant: Bill’s Burgers
Location: 14742 Oxnard St, Van Nuys, CA 91411. (818) 785-4086
Date: September 9, 2021 (and several times since)
Cuisine: Burger Shack
Rating: Great “hand made” “Big Mac”
This is an unusual stop for me!
Bill’s is a total LA institution. It’s totally a burger shack. Don’t be fooled by the building behind, it’s just that tiny shack in the parking lot.
You can’t really read the menu here, but there are just a couple basic sandwich options.
The owner here, Bill Elwell is 94 or 95! He’s been making every burger here since 1965 — which is slightly longer than I’ve been alive. The place is only open when he feels like coming into work, which is surprisingly often given his advanced years. Hopefully he keeps slinging these for some time yet.
Double cheese burger. I had them leave off the tomatoes — because well I hate tomatoes on sandwiches. It’s a really simple burger, just two thin pure beef paddies, grilled, with chopped lettuce, a bit of onion, American cheese, and some kind of “burger sauce” (ketchup and mayo based). It’s very good. Basically it’s soft and beefy and very similar to the way one remembers a Big Mac. I’ve eaten two every time I go. They take a while to get (15-20 min) even if you are off hours and longer on. So if you are a pig like me, order 2 when you go up.
As a kid (or teenager), Big Macs were probably my favorite burger type, and since this is basically a better version — way better than a current Big Mac — I really enjoyed it. I don’t actually like a thick patty and I really like American cheese on burgers.
It was actually so tasty that I did some experimentation at home making smash burgers (Bill’s isn’t really a smash burger, but not too different either).
This is my homemade smash burger. Really it’s a Oklahoma Style Grilled Onion Smash Burger — USDA Prime Beef seasoned only with Salt & Pepper, smashed on a hot iron pan with thinly sliced Onions, Kraft Singles, house-made Burger Sauce, and a Brioche Bun — one of the best burgers I’ve ever had.