Whenever I write an article on sandwiches or burgers, I always make sure to bitch about one thing: construction. I don’t care how good a sandwich is if halfway through it’s all over my hands.
With that being said, TK Burger might be the best-built burger I’ve ever had from a chain.
Located next to the CAMP and the LAB in Orange County’s hipster triangle, the restaurant is small and unimposing, just a normal-looking building surrounded by a large parking lot.
The interior, however, is completely different. At night, yellow and reddish lamps light the restaurant, coloring the interior a dusky crimson. The windows, doors and every over possible surface is covered in bumper stickers, ranging from the ever common TOMS shoes stickers to OC staples such as the OC Roller Girls. The walls are decorated with surfboards, giant kitchenware and framed photos of popular surf destinations.
The restaurant may not seem friendly, and meeker people may feel out of place, but it can feel really homey. The booths are classic, not modern or particularly comfortable, but immediately recognizable as a part of Americana. The décor harkens back to a time long forgotten, when Orange County could be counted among the surf centers of the world.
The menu is simple. There are only two combos, the Big Bargain and Mini Bargain, both comprised of fries and a cheeseburger. In addition, you can get a hamburger, turkey burger, chicken breast sandwich, veggie burger, shitake mushroom burger, ahi sandwich or rib eye sandwich. Sides include a tossed salad, chicken salad, fries, onion rings and corn dogs.
The sides are solid, though not particularly interesting. The onion rings are breaded well. They’re crispy; the onion remains coated with each bite, never pulling away the crust. Unfortunately, the onion flavor is weak and is easily masked.
The fries are nothing special, literally just rectangular prisms of potato fried lightly. Their closest widely produced fry is Burger King, good enough to eat but easy enough to forget.
The burgers are what shine at TK. The patties are charbroiled to order, done perfectly with just a slight hint of burn and crust. Charbroiling is my favorite way to prepare a burger and seeing it used at TK warms my heart.
The cheese used on the cheeseburger melts perfectly, gluing the top bun down and holding it firmly in place. The veggies (tomato, lettuce and onions) are placed below the patty, which would normally cause problems from excess moisture. TK alleviates this wonderfully, coating the bottom bun with a hydrophobic secret sauce that keeps the sandwich almost perfectly dry while providing a nice slightly sour flavor.
Pricing is fair, with a full meal floating around $6 or $7.
TK is great. It’s an Orange County staple; it tastes good, it’s built well and it’s cheap. Most importantly, it’s easy to eat.
The next time you’re in the mood for a burger, drive a bit and check out TK. It might not be the friendliest looking place, but the burgers are peerless.