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On one of life’s simple pleasures

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The burger itself is a work of art. This one is a half-pound of beef on pretzel bread.

The burger itself is a work of art. This one is a half-pound of beef on pretzel bread.

It started innocently enough. A friend’s Facebook post on best burgers scrolled by me. What caught my eye was the address. The place being heralded as one of the best was a stone’s throw from me. With proximity as my primary guide, it would just be wrong not to check it out.

It turns out the Hole in the Wall Burger Joint is not where its address says it should be. The street address is 11028 Santa Monica Blvd., but the front door of the place (and virtually every other part of it) is around the corner on Bentley Avenue. Perhaps the best description is that it’s behind the donut shop, but that probably doesn’t look too great on marketing materials.

I got there pretty early on my initial visit, well before the lunch crowd rolled in, and that gave me a few minutes to chat with co-owner Bill Dertouzos. It turns out the place is actually the beneficiary of the financial meltdown. Dertouzos, who has a substantial chef resume, was running a high-end catering service in the space. When the economy tanked, he said, so did demand for high-end corporate and entertainment-industry catering. Given the small size of the space, he figured his best option for survival was to start serving something with broad appeal.

I opted for the house-made (as opposed to the sweet potato) fries.

I opted for the house-made (as opposed to the sweet potato) fries.

It seems to be working. As customers started streaming through the place, it was clear it has a following.

Lunch wasn’t cheap—about $14 for a burger, fries, a drink, and a tip—but it was the kind of food that would cost two or three times that amount in plusher surroundings. The variety is impressive—a choice of beef, turkey,veggie, chicken, or “special of the week” protein; different kinds of buns, including the unique (and very tasty) pretzel bun shown above; many different spreads and toppings; and a few homemade specialties, like a made-on-the-site ketchup and a very tasty relish.

I really enjoyed the fries as well.

My pal Bryan Frank, who has joined me on two of my visits to the Hole in the Wall, likes it as well. And I think he also surpassed me in capturing the place in pixels.

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  • Steve Kindred April 6, 2011, 12:45 pm

    Looks yummy, but do you have to sit on hard wooden chairs? Or at the counter?

    • Paul Skolnick April 7, 2011, 10:18 am

      I think the chairs are actually metal, and they haven’t yet seemed overly uncomfortable for at least as long as it has taken me to shovel all the food into my mouth!