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Best Burgers in Orange County , part 1 – South Orange County
The Wine Country Burger from The Vine in San Clemente

Best Burgers in Orange County , part 1 – South Orange County

Best Burgers in Orange County

Foreword: The Art of the Burger

“A great burger just doesn’t happen, it is an art.” -Tom Holmberg

Any cook can slap a beef patty between two buns. To be part of Tom’s Foodie Blog Best Burgers in Orange County , the chef must master the “Art of the burger”, which involves creating a perfect harmony of flavors.

Best Burger in OC - South OC

Best Burger in Orange County- South O.C. edition


A chef must decide which ingredient will be the star of the burger and which ingredients will be the supporting actors that enhance the flavors of the target ingredient

Some chefs will focus on an ultra-premium beef patty that oozes natural flavors and is supported by subtle flavors notes like spice and sweetness.

Other chefs will make the beef a supporting ingredient to a superior topping that acts as the common note through the burger’s melody. My ” Top 5 burgers in Orange County ” have a beautiful harmonization of flavors and represent the art of the burger. 

Slater's 50/50 Bacon Hamburger

Tom enjoying a very large and juicy burger. Definitely a Best Burger in Orange County.

This is the first post of the ” Best Burgers inOrange County ” series. The first episode will focus on South Orange County burgers, from Lake Forest south to the San Diego Border. Future editions will include Central O.C., North O.C., and Northeast OC.

This original article was written to be part of the upstart print magazine, “O.C. South” , although the magazine is now defunct and was never published. I have rewritten this article to be part of a larger series in my quest to find the best burger in Orange County. 

Best Burgers in Orange County, part 1- South Orange County

#2 American Kobe Wine Country Burger

The Wine Country Burger from The Vine in San Clemente

Best Burgers in Orange County – “The American Kobe Wine Country Burger” from The Vine in San Clemente. Image Courtesy of The Vine.

Where: The Vine Restaurant

Address: 211 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente


Cost: $14

Tom’s Foodie Blog Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Why: The Vine Restaurant knows how to make a killer gourmet burger inspired by the Wine Country. Get the American Kobe wine country burger, it is incredible.This burger features caramelized shallots, queso mahon, marinated tomato and pickeled onions. At $14, your taste-buds will think it’s a bargain.You will have to be vigilant with the house-cut, herb fries on the side. Wandering hands from the chair next to you will re-quire special attention. Try pairing it with a nice full-bodied red… you won’t have to worry about the wine overpowering your burger. A well deserved #2 spot in Tom’s Foodie Blog’s , best burgers in Orange County list and almost #1. 

#3 The BRU Burger

The Award Winning Bru Burger from Bru Grill in Lake Forest

Best Burgers in Orange County – “The Award Winning Bru Burger” from Bru Grill in Lake Forest. Image Courtesy of Bru Grill and Market

Where: BRU Grill and Market

BRU Grill and Market Address: 23730 El Toro Rd, Lake Forest

Cost: $12

Tom’s Foodie Blog Rating:4 of 5

Why: Attention to detail is the key the big, beautiful Brü Burger. They don’t slap a square of Kraft american cheese on this puppy. The three-year aged cheddar oozes off the sides and holds the IPA drunken caramelized onions in place. The house-cured pickles add a zing. But it’s the Brü smoked pepper aioli that really turns the meat into mastery. The artisan bun used to tame this beast is noteworthy. Add a fried egg for a buck. Bru has one of the better craft beer and wine programs in South Orange county.  

#4 The 50/50 Burger

The 50/50 Burger from Slater's 50/50 in Lake Forest

Best Burgers in Orange County – “The 50/50 Burger” from Slater’s 50/50 in Lake Forest. Image Courtesy of Slater’s 50/50

Where: Slater’s 50/50

Restaurant Address: 24356 Swartz Dr, Lake Forest

Cost: 1/3 pound $8.95:  1/2 pound  $10.95;  1 pound $13.95. All toppings are included in the base price. 

Tom’s Foodie Blog Rating: 4 out of 5

Why: The Slater 50/50 Burger, is not for the faint at heart or for people with a heart condition. What sets Slater’s apart from the rest is in the name. ”50/50” refers to the blend of 50%ground beef and 50% ground bacon.Say what!!!? Ground bacon? Yes, you heard me right. The other thing that sets apart Slater’s is the sheer volume of choices. You can pick from specialty burgers or design your own, with toppings ranging from Fritos to Beer Battered Jalapeños. Sauce it up with Sriracha® Mayo, Baconnaise, or a dozen other accouterments. Slater’s still makes one of the best burgers in town… or perhaps several of the best burgers in town. If you want a burger that is a little more lean, you can order a standard burger patty, delicious in it’s own right. 

5# The Burger

The Burger , served with a sunny-side up egg from The Riders Club

Best Burgers  in Orange County – “The Burger “, served with a sunny-side up egg from The Riders Club. Image Courtesy of The Rider’s Club.

Where: Rider’s Club Cafe

Restaurant Address: 1701 N El Camino Real, San Clemente

Cost:  Base price $8.65 for what feels like a 1/4 pound burger

“All burgers are dressed with lettuce, pickle, grilled or raw onions, house spread & served on a Challah bun. Comes with kettle chips and house pickled beets available upon request.”

  • CHEESE ($1/each): cheddar, muenster, swiss, goat cheese spread, blue, havarti
  • EXTRAS ($1.25/each): bacon, grilled mushrooms, roasted chili peppers, avocado, egg

Tom’s Foodie Blog Rating: 4 out of 5. This burger is on a different scale since it is served as a Quick Service burger joint format. As far as these “slow fast food” type restaurants go it is a 4.5 of out 5, but normalized on the scale it is a 4 out of 5. 

Why: Self-proclaimed ”Slow Fast Food”, the Rider’s Club Cafe is a jazzed up local burger joint that sells a killer burger, made with hand ground meat. The burgers are inexpensive for what you get and the flavor is as high quality as you might expect from an $15 burger. The Burger is the centerpiece of the menu. It comes basic,with lettuce, pickle, grilled or raw onions and special house spread, served on a Challah bun. For a few dollars more you can GaGa up your burger to your heart’s desire. They also have a killer beer list, which I highly recommend you partake. 

#1 BLK  Burgrz 3/4 Pound Sizzlin Kobe Beef Burger

3/4 pound Sizln Kobe Burger, customized  from BLK Burgrz

Best Burgers in  Orange County – “Sizzlin’ Kobe Beef  Burger” (customized) from BLK Burgrz. The #1 Best Burger in South O.C.  Image Courtesy of BLK Burgrz

Where: BLK Burgrz

Restaurant Address: 27742 Antonio Pkwy, Ladera Ranch

Cost: $18 and toppings are “Generally” included unless you ask for double ingredients or multiple types of cheese. 

Tom’s Foodie Blog Rating: 5 out of 5

Why: Yes, it’ll cost you $18. But let’s face it – – you have no problem paying $18 for any other entree on any other menu in any other trendy restaurant in Orange County, right? You just have to get past the ”Burger for $18” hangup. Let’s face it, you are paying $18 for the best burger in South O.C.

Their Stuffed Burgrz are great; but, being a purest, I like the BLK 3/4 pound Sizzlin Kobe Beef Burger. The meat is soft and juicy with each bite, you can thank the high quality Kobe beef, which is definitely the star of this burger. I recommend you compliment the Kobe beef patty with their pretzel bun, avocado, shredded lettuce, sunny side up fried egg and a spicy aioli, and tomato. The flavor of the 3/4 pound Sizzlin Kobe beef burger can stand up to many flavors layers and even the toughest of flavors like Jalapenos, although I would stick to no more than 5 toppers.  

The burger comes out on a sizzling pan, making the other tables around you say “I should have gotten the Sizzlin Kobe Burger.” You taste this burger in your nostrils even before it touches your table. I mean this, do not order this burger anything more than Medium, with Medium-rare being the only really acceptable temperature to order this burger for proper enjoyment. 

Congrats BLK for having the #1 burger in South O.C….according to Tom’s Foodie Blog at least.  Keep an eye open for Top 5 Burgers Orange County (parts 2-4) covering Central, North, and Northeast Orange County. 


BLK Burgerz is my new burger crush

Best Burgers in Orange County: BLK burgrz is my new burger crush in South O.C.

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About Tom Holmberg

Tom grew up in a cultural diverse neighborhood and a culturally diverse family, so he has learned to appreciate all types of food. "I am not a Chef, nor do I play one on T.V., but I have learned to appreciate food from years of eating and cooking." Tom also spent 10 years in the restaurant industry in various roles, from Prep Cook to server.


  1. Please add me to your mailing list. Love your articles . Thank you Gail Lynn.

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