Since its reopening at the historic Hotel Normandie, Cassell’s Hamburgers — once declared the best burger spot in Los Angeles — has gracefully bounced back to its former glory.
The legendary lunchtime spot, a favorite of L.A. locals since 1948, closed its doors shortly after owner Al Cassell’s passing in 2010. It wasn’t long before the burger joint was reborn under new ownership — receiving a modern makeover while staying true to Al Cassell’s vision. Today, Cassell’s continues to serve up classic American diner eats, and perhaps still offers LA’s best burger.
Cassell’s recaptures the humble charm of its old space. The original tables and chairs are still used, and wood saved from the original location was used for the countertops. Even the neon Cassell’s sign and beverage menu with hand-painted lemons were preserved and now hang proudly on the walls.
What also remains unchanged is Al Cassell’s formula for a classic burger: simple ingredients, proper seasoning, and premium quality beef. He was known to hold high standards for the way food was prepared — the meat was ground daily on-site, lemonade was freshly squeezed and even the mayonnaise was homemade. Today, Al’s original crossfire broiler, grinder and patty press is still used to make the burgers. And boy, are they good.
The cheeseburger at Cassell’s is everything a classic burger should be. For the patties, Angus chuck and brisket is flown in from Colorado and ground daily on-site. The thick, juicy slabs of meat are expertly charred on the outside, topped with melted cheese, tangy thousand island sauce and sandwiched between buttery, pillowy soft, Portuguese buns. The standard fixings, fresh lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles are served on the side, ensuring ideal crispness.
Staying true to the spirit of reinvention, all burgers at Cassell’s can be customized with an impressive assortment of sauces and toppings. Grilled onions, bacon, chili con carne, avocado or a sunny-side-up egg can be added on, though true burger purists will probably opt out.
Then there is Cassell’s famed patty melt — an innovative masterpiece where burger meets grilled cheese — which Momofuku owner David Chang touts as “one of the best goddamn things you could eat anywhere.” And it’s not hard to see why. The patty melt is a roller coaster for the senses. Toasted rye bread provides a satisfying crunch to a juicy, mouth-watering chunk of meat — flawlessly seared, but mind-blowingly tender. Caramelized onions add an extra layer of tang and sweetness, while gooey cheese mellows out the bright, peppery flavors of the beef. The remaining cheese sweeps artfully away from both edges of the sandwich into quirky, cape-like crisps that can be dipped in any sauce of your choosing. If there was a patty melt that could save the day, this would be it.
And if plant-based indulgence is more your scene, Cassell’s delivers with their hearty vegan burger. Nutty farro blends beautifully with browned mushrooms, zucchini, and red onion, grilled in peanut oil. Smoky, peppery and crispy on the outside, the burger is topped off with a velvety layer of vegan cheese.
Unlike the original location, Cassell’s boasts a full bar and cocktail menu, and breakfast and coffee is available all day. Other offerings, like their waffle-cut sweet potato fries and Al Cassell’s famous half-mashed potato salad, will surely satisfy but save room for dessert. From traditional malt milkshakes to handcrafted sodas to a rotating pie display case, Cassell’s does sweet nostalgia right. Their vanilla and chocolate milkshakes, thick and luxurious, use McConnell’s ice cream as a base. Soda fountain staples include their house-made cherry coke, made with handcrafted syrup and a preserved black cherry. Their pie selection, which tantalizes passersby from the front window, includes flavors like banana cream, blackberry vanilla or lemon icebox.
Cassell’s is located in hip, vibrant Koreatown, the sprawling melting pot of a neighborhood west of Downtown LA — a city within a city. From Hollywood’s Golden Age in the ‘20s to the LA riots in the ‘90s, Koreatown is now an urban playground for locals, densely packed with culinary hotspots, quirky dive bars, and high-end speakeasies. Though the town is continually transforming, efforts to preserve its rich historic culture can still be seen. Architectural treasures like the Wiltern, Chapman Market and Hotel Normandie have been restored over the years and still thrive today. It is only fitting that Koreatown — a neighborhood that welcomes change but pays homage to its past — is where Cassell’s has made its comeback.
A beloved burger joint given new life, Cassell’s Hamburgers is undeniably L.A. — a little of the old mixed with the new. And on its charming glass corner on 6th and Normandie, offering subtle glimpses into times gone by, the iconic burger stand has found a home, showing us that good things from the past can, and should, remain.
3600 W 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90020
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