Favorites from our youth, many mom n’ pop burger joints have gone out of business due to the proximity of a massive chain burger. One place I remember from when I was a kid, Carrols Hamburgers, actually became a Burger King. Fortunately in my Hamblogging adventures, more than once have I been happily surprised to find a mom n’ pop burger joint alive and well directly across the street from a massive chain burger. And in the case of Brea’s Best, the tables were turned: its location used to be a Carl’s Jr.
Entering the lobby puts you in front of a glassed-in service counter, which appears to have once been outdoors. Behind the glass is the kitchen, staffed by about a dozen teenagers. The menu is straightforward with four different burgers served in various permutations, breakfast burritos, sandwiches, and a half dozen salads for the burger impaired.
I ordered my usual bacon cheeseburger ($3.95 a la carte, $6.89 with fries and a drink) and entered the small seating area. I was encouraged that most off the booths were occupied even though it was a non-rush hour. My number was called after a handful of minutes and I picked up my tray at the window. I was immediately pleased by the vivid colors of the fresh veggies beneath the patty. All too often the tomatoes are pale and the lettuce white, but that is not the case here. The veggies were fresh and the burger smelled good.
My first bite resonated with the gratifying crunch of crisp veggies and tasty bacon. The second bite allowed me to substantially get into the patty and cheese. The thin patty must have been fresh as it had a touch of beef flavor to it and a bit of juice inside, even after being charbroiled. The cheese was appropriately gooey and the Thousand Island was flavorful. The lightly toasted sesame bun held up nicely and the fries were devilishly salty. Brea’s Best might be just that, and it is the best California-style thin patty I’ve had in north Orange County so far.
It has been thirty years since brothers Bill and Tom Gatsios bought the second ever Carl’s Jr. location and made it their own. On the day that I was at Brea’s Best, Bill Gatsios was in the kitchen taking phone orders – the only non-teenager working behind the glass.
707 South Brea Boulevard
Brea, California 92821
Hours: Sunday – Thursday 9:00AM – 9:00PM
Friday – Saturday 9:00AM – 10:00PM