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California Burgers: Inspired American Cuisine

American-style burger restaurant review.

This article was originally published on Hunter and Bligh

California Burgers: Inspired American Cuisine

A thick slice of American culture for late-night Melburnians on a Chapel Street crawl.

After a sweaty, late night out at Revs or Lux, or an epic movie marathon at the Astor Theatre, chances are you’re going to be craving something salty, something beyond the clichéd fast food options but not quite the full napkin-across-your-lap dine-in experience. A bonus if it’s a meal straight out of Hollywood, melted American cheese slices and all.

For the cultured, cooked and ravenous gourmand, look no further than California Burgers. Right across from Windsor station and open till 2am, this trendy, neon-inspired venue has a quintessentially Californian menu, a couple of dedicated foodies running the joint who are committed to the proper West-coast casual dining experience, and a picaresque selection of foods that taste as good as they look (and they look beautiful).

Rosemary and Theo Tzavares have revamped the choice location to bring to Melbourne’s iconic late-night street a thick slice of American culture. Once a souvlaki joint (the souvlaki’s are still on the menu, though they seem a little overshadowed by these magnificent burgers), California Burgers has been operating since 2015. Rosemary and Theo regularly make their way back and forth between here and California, researching the menus of tried-and-true American burger joints like In-N-Out Burger, applying observed expertise and style to their own restaurant.

Theo smashes the patties daily, in the shop, and, as Rosemary told me, they rely on fresh produce to make the burgers pop. Tasting the sriracha-infused Compton burger, the fresh lettuce crunches with the crispy chicken, and the Malibu Turkey burger goes wonderfully with its pickles (no soggy McDonald’s pickles are these) and ring of raw onion. I’m a sucker for ambitious, big burgers so my favourite was the ludicrous Muscle Beach Burger. Were it not for Theo’s perfectly cooked smashed patties, this four-pattie monster would’ve been too much to take. Fortunately, I could’ve happily eaten four more.

The menus also includes the classic souvlakis, a few tacos and, of course, Californian fried chicken. There’s a decent selection of sides and the cheese fries are straight out of your most daring cheese-soaked fantasies. There’s also the highly recommended option of making your patty ‘Animal Style’. It’s a bit of a secret, so I won’t spoil it. Just ask the wait staff you’d like an ‘Animal Style’ patty, and await the results.

Come summer’s hottest nights, you’re going to be out wandering, possibly wondering how you ended up on Chapel Street and where your ravenous appetite came from. Drop in and see Rosemary and Theo at California Burgers. The venue’s cool, the service is friendly and the burgers, well, simply take a bite and see for yourself.

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