Hodad is a surf term for a person who hangs out at the beach with a nice board but doesn’t know how to surf. Thankfully, none of that posturing exists at the Ocean Beach burger bar by the same name. This was my third visit to Hodad’s in the past seven years, and it was as good as ever, a serious contender for the best traditional hamburger in the country.
Byron and Virginia Hardin founded the burger spot in 1969 on nearby Santa Monica Avenue and eventually moved closer to the beach in 1991, on the city’s main drag, Newport Avenue. Son Mike Hardin now owns Hodad’s with longtime friend Teri Rhodes. They’re not modest. The sign touts the “world’s best burger.” They might not be far off.
There’s normally a line near the entrance, but Hodad’s is well run, so you won’t have to wait long for seats.
Newport Avenue is kind of like Venice Beach was 10 years ago, fairly grungy, but with plenty of character.
Patties are formed from fresh ground beef that’s never frozen. The burger is better than the sum of its parts, but the individual components are still pretty stellar. Case in point, the meaty, thick-cut bacon. “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” revealed that the cooks boil the bacon in water, place it on the grill and then form a bacon patty. Better bacon has never graced a hamburger.
In Los Angeles, Father’s Office sells an outstanding luxury burger that’s undeniably delicious, but the service experience is always challenging. As far as traditional burgers go, there are none better than Hodad’s, and the atmosphere is fun and casual. Given the total package, the choice between my two favorite burgers is easy: Hodad’s.