Having been born and raised in the South Bay, there are things you grow up with that you only notice when you leave and compare it to the rest of Southern California. One of these things is the strangely prolific charbroiled burger business, especially around Carson. These aren’t things that are unique to Carson, but they are unique to industrial sub-urbs like Carson.
This is a trend that seems to be found in any medium sized industrial suburb that hasn’t been flooded by a gentrification wave. They’re not gourmet places to eat, but they’re the epitome of fast & greasy comfort food. But they’re small businesses with their subtle charms and have survived for as long as I can remember.
They do share a lot of similar qualities: an authentically vintage elevated sign that hasn’t been updated since the 60s or 70s, a mention of charbroiled burgers, big breakfasts, and even a lot of the same ingredients. Sometimes they can be hard to tell apart. Even as a native, I’m hard pressed to remember which of these burger joints was the one on Wilmington. With all this then, how can you tell the difference? If you’re passing through and have a hankering for a non-corporate burger, what should you know about these institutions?
Carson Char-Broiled Burgers
How To Remember It: It’s the one that thinks charbroiled is hyphenated.
Notes: The most generically named burger place in Carson isn’t as generic when it comes to menu. It offers exactly what everyone else offers, yes, but also: egg sandwiches. Also a section of their menu is called “teriyaki delight,” so if you ever want to get a cheap bowl of teriyaki and finish it off with egg between bread, have I got the char-broiled grill for you. Of all the places, this is also the one that looks like a regular, Denny’s quality diner.
How To Remember It: It’s the one my friends & I used to go to once a week after school.
Notes: Located just a 10 minute walk from a high school, Yellow Basket had the potential to be The Max in my personal Saved by the Bell scenario. I would be Zach Morris in this case. Either way, Yellow Basket is, like many of these grills, perfectly serviceable. Especially after school cafeteria food. Either way, I have fond memories of fried zucchini and frisco cheeseburgers here. It’s one of the only places of this type that has an honest-to-goodness kid’s menu for those that don’t want to load them up with an entire patty melt and fries.
How To Remember It: It’s the one with wi-fi.
Notes: With a big parking lot, you would think Monk’s is more popular than it is. It’s the only place on this list that, surprisingly, sells wet burritos. Even more curious is the roast beef burrito. I’m not so sure about the idea, but someone in the kitchen thought it would work, so who knows! It might become your new favorite thing. The wi-fi thing is noble but somehow I don’t see students hunkering in to study while scarfing up steak & eggs.
Ted’s Charbroiled Burgers
How To Remember It: It’s the popular one.
Notes: While most of these places will be half full or less on a Sunday afternoon, Ted’s will likely be busy. It may be a result of real estate luck — it’s on the busy Main St. — or maybe we’ve all just decided to settle here because someone’s got to win. Regardless, Ted’s offers some notable specials, such as the 4 burgers with fries & a drink for $18, which is helpful if you’re a family or an unbelievably starving person. If you think that’s absurd, they have this thing called “Diet Plates” — essentially, meat over tomatos & cheese. Probably a take on anti-carbohydrate diets, this is the only place I know of that you can get a burger patty served on top of a slice of cheese and a couple tomatos, as if someone’s unfinished burger had fallen off a high shelf and into your plate.
How To Remember It: It’s the one with a massive menu.
Notes: Seriously. This half-outdoors half-indoors burger place has a menu that takes up its entire outdoor wall, end to end. In the middle of it is one ordering window waiting for you to decode the wall. It’s like being an archeologist in a Pharoah’s tomb, reading the hieroglyphics, trying to discover what sandwich you want. They offer the same high-quantity ideas, including a double cheeseburger family pack if you’re real bold. They’re also the only ones who have updated their sign & menu with full color photographs, shedding the faded paint for a fresh coat.
Do you have any recurring restaurant types in your neighborhood? Do you support them?
Carson Char-Broiled Burgers – (310) 518 – 1044
21680 Wilmington Ave., Carson, CA 90810
Yellow Basket – (310) 830 – 1103
22300 S Avalon Blvd., Carson, CA 90745
Monk’s Char-Burgers – (310) 320 – 7400
22726 S Vermont Ave., Torrance, CA 90502
Ted’s Charbroiled Burgers – (310) 830 – 4412
22000 Main St., Carson, CA 90745
Omega Burger – (310) 518 – 1044
305 E Carson St., Carson, CA 90745