Thursday was National Burger Day and I just couldn’t make it to a proper place to celebrate. But the day after, following a tour, I decided to check out Cassell’s Hamburgers in Koreatown, which in recent months has been added on to the refurbished Hotel Normandie. I walked in about 3pm on a Friday to a bright corner space with plenty of table and counter seating. I loved the friendly vases of white and yellow daisies, and the yellow mustard and red ketchup bottles added an additional pop of color. I ordered a cheeseburger and potato salad, with a vanilla Coke. I don’t really drink Coke but for some reason it sounded good. I loved the presentation on a little silver tray. Every burger comes with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles but instead of putting everything on your burger, forcing you to take off what you don’t want, they place all the extras on a little plate and you can ADD what and how much you want. I loved this. Upon some further reading, I learned it is a tribute to the popular salad and condiment bar that Cassell’s was known for.
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The original Cassell’s Hamburgers opened in 1948 just down the street from this new location on 6th Street by a gentleman named Al Cassell who passed at the age of 98 in 2010. I spoke with a lovely couple, Ed and Lita, who live in the neighborhood and had frequented the other locale, which closed in 2012. Upon retiring, Mr. Cassell had sold his burger joint to a Korean family who kept it going for a few years. Ed saw me taking pictures and pointed out the original signage high above the bar area. I also really loved the simple menu placed prominently on the wall, which was a tribute to the original menu. I have to say I enjoyed every single bite of my cheeseburger. I had noted that it was served on a Parker House bun, and my server then told me that while the bread came from La Brea Bakery, literally everything else (from sauces to sodas) were made in-house. The vanilla Coke really hit the spot but next time I will try the Sarsaparilla, and trust me there will be a next time. The potato salad had a bit too much horseradish for my liking, so next time I’m getting the homemade potato chips. But back to that fantastic burger, which was among the best I’ve ever had, from the freshly ground beef to the melty cheddar cheese to the soft and perfect Parker House bun. I am declaring my visit to Cassell’s Hamburgers as my best bite of the week!
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By Trish Procetto