Restaurant of the Week: Fatburger

Fatburger, 11226 4th St. (at Milliken), Rancho Cucamonga

This week’s restaurant certainly isn’t Lela’s. It could have been Pueblita, a Mexican restaurant apparently in Montclair city limits (although it’s in the Upland Business Center) at Arrow Route and Benson Avenue, where I had lunch early this week. I’d heard good things, but I would rate it only as average. If I worked in the neighborhood, I’d eat there, but since getting there meant driving past several better Mexican restaurants, I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to try it.

Instead, I’ll pick a chain operation: Fatburger, in Rancho Cucamonga, across from Ontario Mills.

Fatburger doesn’t make my favorite hamburger. That would probably be Molly’s Charbroiler, a stand on Vine Street a block below Hollywood Boulevard that is a favored stop when I go to the ArcLight. I also like Pie ‘N Burger in Pasadena, which not only makes a fantastic burger but sells you fresh-baked pie afterward.

In the Inland Valley, I’d go for Golden Ox, with three Pomona locations to serve you better. And innumerable small operations make hamburgers far tastier than McDonald’s and its ilk.

But Fatburger, just east down Fourth Street from our office, is a convenient spot, and there’s an attention to quality and freshness that puts it up there with In N Out. Fatburger’s signature item is fat, juicy and cooked to order, and loaded with shredded lettuce.

The skinny fries are pleasantly crispy, the onion rings lightly battered. They even have Cherry Coke in the dispenser. The shakes are a little disappointing and the “fat” fries are mushy for my taste, although friends like them. Fatburger also sells quite good chicken sandwiches and turkey burgers. You can even get a bacon and fried egg sandwich, which I tried once and liked.

The seating is comfortable, moreso than In N Out’s, with actual tables and chairs, plus booths. There’s a nice vibe to the place. One day my food was brought to my table by an employee wearing silk pants, like he was stopping off before hitting the clubs. The jukebox plays great R&B, rock and soul classics. Friday I heard Sly and the Family Stone, the Coasters, the Spinners and Janis Joplin.

This may reflect the clientele. This Fatburger, at least, is popular with the black community. Sometimes half the diners, as well as a majority of the employees, are black. The place opened in October 2005 and feels like it’s made a niche for itself.

If nothing else, it outlasted its next-door neighbor, Mi Tortilla, which closed a few weeks ago.

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  • wyl

    I can’t say I disagree with your Fatburger verdict. Their onion rings are damn tasty. (Can I say “damn” on your blog?) Once I saw a too-cool-for-school teen there wearing a shirt that read “I love haters.” (http://www.cafepress.com/buy/i+love+haters/-/pd_44936100?CMP=KNC-F-ALL)

    It was a nice gesture but not enough to make Mi Tortilla want to stay, I guess. I didn’t know it closed down. It wasn’t very good. Judging from a burrito I had there once, the cooks were probably Mexican food haters. When Famous Daves opens down the street, will it be your ROW?

    [Possibly. It could be Dave on Dave. -- DA]

  • Bob Terry

    Hi old friend. The “black” connection at Fatburger might be in response to the owners, the Lacy family. I deal with them regularly on a business relationship and love to see the black community, and all others, support their business.

    [Bob, thanks for dropping by! -- DA]

  • Chaz B

    GREETINGS:

    Fatburger at one time was all the rage in West L.A., very big with the high school/college age clientele. Didn’t it even get a mention on the “Sanford & Son” television series?

    While I agree I like the vibe and the fact they offer green tabasco for use on their offerings, the music and the condiments aren’t enough to break into the local hierarchy of best burgers. That is a topic that cries out for a David Allen column: Best Burgers of the Inland Valley!

    [Don't know about "Sanford and Son," but Fatburger is name-checked on the first Beastie Boys album! -- DA]

  • John Tee

    A Fashion Island mall Fatburger holds the distinction (?) of being my personal worst. My personal best, so far, is the “double take” at Easy Take Out at the corner of Foothill and Central. Their Ortega burger is my No. 2.

    [I've driven by E-Z Take-Out Burger for years. The one on Mountain Avenue that combines burgers with a car wash is a wacky, if unappetizing, concept. I'll have to try the food sometime. -- DA]

  • ralph

    Angelina’s Cafe on Archibald in Rancho has a mighty tasty burger. With bacon and swiss cheese…

    [I can be found at Angelina's once a week at lunchtime, quietly reading the New Yorker and enjoying a tasty, moderately priced meal. I've had a burger there once -- no bacon or swiss, tho -- and can recommend it. That's Archibald at Seventh, tucked away in the Scheu Business Center. -- DA]

  • Carlos

    hey man i been to pueblita restaurant and any of their food tops fatburger.
    i recommend it to everyone its a very authentic restaurant.
    very friendly and worth the time!!!!!!

    your just on ur fatburger maybe ur fat