Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Chow Time: Howard's Famous Bacon & Avocado Burgers

This, my friends, is an unprecedented Chow Time post.  I have made a promise to myself that I won't post about places that I haven't been.  I won't post about crafts I haven't made (unless I'm featuring a talented crafter that I have met/interviewed).  I won't shill merchandise that I have never tried or for which I have no affinity.  Basically, I won't manufacture a blog out of thin air (let's face it, there is nothing thin about me, even the very air I breathe) based on something about which I have no personal knowledge and/or experience...until now.

Howard's Famous Bacon & Avocado Burgers - Culver City, CA

To be absolutely fair, I have been to Howard's Famous Bacon & Avocado Burgers in Los Angeles, CA (see above photo); I just haven't eaten there.  The irrefutable flaw with that point is that I have no reasonable explanation for my self-inflicted fast.  Self control has never been one of my virtues and usually when confronted with a hamburger (a bacon & avocado burger no less), I go from willing participant to grease-stained glutton before I can even consider the option of abstinence.  At the time, I believe I heard myself say, "I'm not hungry;" knowing that those words have never before escaped my lips, I think I might have been temporarily possessed by some evil force (it says a lot about my character that several weeks after the fact, I'm still grieving the missed opportunity).  On that day, for reasons unknown, I watched as my compatriots enjoyed the spoils of Howard's famed kitchen while I sated myself with photos of the interior, the staff, the patrons, and of course the bacon & avocado.

While the menu looks extensive, it is essentially burgers, dogs, sandwiches, and fries.
The most important item on the menu is "Cash Only."

With the style and locale of a post-surf hangout, Howard's (est. 1971) really looks like a set from Village of the Giants, Fireball 500, or any number of low-budget teen movies from a particular era.  Happy with my surroundings, I learned that, aside from food, there is much to appreciate about Howard's Famous Bacon & Avocado Burgers.

There's this, of course.

And this.
The dining room consists of about five formica booths that cradle diners
in the saturated tones of raspberry sorbet.  Old, faded lobby cards are
shellacked to wooden plaques as a half-hearted nod to the history of
the nearby studios.  The decor is so spare and unaffected that it almost
reads as intentional.

And this.
Although this is far from her greatest film, I am a sucker for Deanna!

And this.
Compositionally speaking, there is nothing even remotely redeeming
about this photograph, except for the confluence of COLOR!

The trash receptacle, enrobed in salmon and marine blue formica, set against
the aqua counter, mid-tone beadboard paneling, the orange scalloped molding
and grill hood, the quilted, stainless backsplash, the red fire extinguisher, the
creamy-vanilla walls, and the mint-green "Employees Only" area are mere
supporting players to that woman in the magical magenta ensemble!
Howard's is a colorful place.

Howard's could serve just about anything and I would still find its lack of refinements charming.  Nevertheless, with food paramount to the overall Chow Time experience, Nick & Cynthia were anxious to discover the glory of Howard's.

Cynthia shows off her Bacon & Avocado Taco (we were expecting a simple bacon & avocado taco
but it was actually a bacon & avocado cheeseburger taco!).  Nick, unamused by what he believed
to be Howard's ironic, post-modern plating style, dives into a bacon-free, veggie burger.

Howard's claim to fame is that they were the first to marry a hamburger with what I believe are the two ingredients that can be added to almost any food to improve the balance of flavor, texture, and the overall eating experience - bacon and avocado (at the very least, they were the first to make a giant billboard with marquee lights announcing the beautiful union).  We have friends who, after moving to California from the opposite coast, mock every menu that has something "California style,"(includes bacon and avocado).  Simultaneously filled with pride for California's delicious culinary contributions and pity for the tragedy of unrefined palates, I leave our friends unnamed in hope that, in their anonymity, they will have time to reflect on the shame of their speciousness (before they are deported from California's borders on the grounds of gastronomic treason).

The Bacon & Avocado Taco

Gratuitous fry shot

And then there was this.
It became clear with this photo that a proxy recommendation sufficed in honoring Howard's
with the wacky tacky Seal of Approval.  Much like a shark in attack mode, Cynthia was so
intent on devouring her combination bovine/porcine prey that her eyes rolled back in her head.

"Mmmmm...them's good taco burger!"
I genuinely appreciate the signage and the seating and the swell atmosphere at Howard's, but next time, there will be burger!

Howard's Famous Bacon & Avocado Burgers
11127 Venice Blvd #7
Los Angeles, CA


Mr. Tiny


  1. Great. Now I want an avocado and bacon burger...or a bacon and avocado burger taco! That thing looks insane! I love how it's basically a burger in a taco, instead of a bun. Oh how I love America... :)

    1. Next time you guys are in town, we MUST do a burger tour of Los Angeles!!!

  2. OK! I am definitely going there on my next trip to LA- mostly because bacon and avacados are my two favorite things in life.

    1. They are pretty much the only things that I think about on a daily basis. Our New York friends don't even like avocado and refuse to try it! More avocado for me!!!

  3. Such a co-inky-dink!! Literally just the other day, my Hubby and I were sitting at a light on Venice, and my eye fell upon this exact restaurant. I thought the sign was the cutest! By the way, there's a great little pastrami place just around the corner on Sepulveda, called Johnnie's. I'm sure you've probably been there, but if not, you might want to check it out!

    1. Speaking of co-inky-dinks, we actually went to Johnnie's on the same day (much later after a show); I was hungry because I had skipped eating at Howard's! Isn't the sign wonderful?

  4. I will cut anyone that speaks ill of California style anything. I can't think of one item avocado does not improve!

    1. I'm with you. Avocado makes everything better!!!

  5. Well they DID try to make oatmeal cookies with them (butter substitute) according to my copy of the latest "Cook's Companion". It was awful, apparently. So yes, there are a few things it doesn't improve. However, I will remark that in Indonesia, milkshakes made with avocado, ice cream whizzed together with chocolate syrup is considered quite a treat, according to an old copy of Saveur mag..

    1. Not as a replacement, as an addition!!! I would happily add an avocado slice to the top of my oatmeal cookie! Although, I have seen vegan, choco-avocado pudding and pie and have heard from multiple sources that it is delicious! I might have to try it.

  6. I have a "For the Love of Mary" Deanna Durbin lobby card too! But it's vertical.
    Hmmm... didn't the old Carl's Jr. "California Roast Beef" sandwich have a pepper on it? Green, or Bell? Not "avocado & bacon."

    1. That's why it's the OLD Carl's Jr. sandwich; it couldn't keep up with the bacon & avocado, NEW California style!!!