To commemorate the peak of summer, Farmer Boys has brought back its signature smokehouse bacon cheeseburger. Rich, hearty and decadent, this burger piles sweet and spicy bbq sauce and crispy onion straws onto 100% USDA beef and American cheese, in a locally-baked onion bun. Patrons can choose to indulge in the standard burger, or really get the full experience with a smokehouse bacon double cheeseburger.
This special item is available at all Farmer Boys locations through September 2 (Labor Day).
Of course, Farmer Boys continues to serve evergreen favorites such as the Farmer’s Burger, with a double whammy of bacon and smashed avocado, and the southwest chicken salad, with crispy tortilla strips and black beans. Their recent initiative of ‘always crispy’ fries is as strong as ever, along with massive crispy zucchini and gigantic onion rings—perhaps those comical photos of oversized-vegetables lining the walls aren’t as touched up as they seem. Breakfast, as always, is served all day.
A quick-service chain that spans throughout California and Nevada, Farmer Boys backs its claim of “Farm Fresh” by using fresh, locally sourced ingredients across its locations. Suppliers include Duda Farm Fresh Foods, which delivers lettuce within days of harvest, and Galasso’s, which delivers buns to Farmer Boys five days a week.
Farmer Boys takes quick service to yet another level by making its salad dressings in-house and mixing milkshakes individually. For more information, visit FarmerBoys.com.
Irvine’s TRADE Food Hall houses some of the OC’s most intriguing under-the-radar casual eateries, with concoctions like rainbow burgers blowing up Instagram on the reg. TRADE’s offerings are not limited to just the stalls that surround the venue’s central dining area, however. The entire complex sports a broad spectrum of new-age hotspots, with cuisines that span the globe. You’re not going to find too many places that cover this much ground with such modest price points, and the joy of TRADE is the ability to try a bit of everything across one sitting.
You’ll unquestionably be drawn to Hiro Nori, if for nothing else than the perpetual line out the door. Among Orange County’s premiere ramen destinations, Hiro Nori serves up something ridiculous in its tonkotsu ramen. That rich, creamy broth is like no other, with tender pork that melts off your chopsticks and thick, hearty noodles that pick up all the flavor. Don’t pass on that black garlic sauce, which gives everything a pristine smoky quality. Their shoyu ramen is another masterpiece, and Hiro Nori rounds it out with a selection of bowls and Japanese fusion small plates. Is it worth the hour wait? The answer is with the beholder, and there’s only one way to find out. HiroNoriCraftRamen.com
Around 100 paces down the lot is KRISP, a modern café that serves up premium coffee, gourmet juices, and a variety of healthful entrees. KRISP’s menu epitomizes the millennial palate, with avocado toast galore amidst a slew of matcha-based drinks…and foods [matcha brownies anyone?]. They also spice things up, literally, with worldly goodies such as masala chai. You’ll inevitably find 20-somethings making the place their home for the day, working on their startup or the next great screenplay. KrispFreshLiving.com
If dessert is what you’re looking for, look no further than Sweet Combforts, back in TRADE Food Hall’s central hub. True to its name, Sweet Combforts specializes in chocolate-dipped Belgium Liege waffles, pressed with the honeycomb pattern that waffles had back when they were first created. They use pearl sugar to give their waffles an unreal texture, not to mention some crazy topping combinations. The churro crunch, complete with cinnamon toast crunch and a cream cheese drizzle; and the cookies and dreams, with Oreo cookie butter, Oreo crumbles and white chocolate, will put a sweet cap on just about anything. SweetCombforts.com
Hiro Nori, KRISP and Sweet Combforts are located at 2222 Michelson Dr., Irvine, CA 92612. Hours and prices vary, but expect lunch and dinner service 7 days a week and to leave spending less than $20/person at each venue.
Slater’s 50/50 rose to fame with its delectable half beef, half bacon patties, then spread across California and neighboring states with a tried and true mantra of burgers, bacon and beer…extra emphasis on the bacon. Now, in an effort to appeal to more of the masses, Slater’s is branching slowly and methodically out of its core menu offerings. New entrees and seasonal menus reach a broad spectrum of palates, with plenty of—dare we say—[more] healthful options.
While seasonal offerings have changed since the time of this writing, expect a lot more green and a lot fewer carbs than you’re used to on a traditionally heavy menu. Bun-less burger bowls have made their debut, and will likely continue in some form or another. The ‘impossible’ vegetarian patty is an option for any burger on the menu. Slater’s is also putting solid emphasis on ahi tuna in appetizers and salads.
Those still seeking decadence should fear not. Slater’s is still going full throttle with unreal burgers, some of the best milkshakes out there, and more bacon than you know what to do with. Hard to argue with the lone star smoke burger, complete with bbq sauce, garlic aioli and thick onion rings stacked high, or the sriracha burger, which uses enough of its namesake ingredient to make that happy birthday shake all the more necessary.
Not all of Slater’s menu additions are healthful, showing that the franchise is staying true to its core audience that favors all things bacon. Nothing showcases this more than the bacon chocolate lava cake, finished with a large strip of bacon drizzled in chocolate and caramel. Just pretend that ordering a burger bowl will cancel it out and you’ll leave guilt-free.
Slater’s 50/50 has locations across Southern California, Nevada, Texas and Hawaii. Hours vary. Average out-the-door price for burger, fries and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$42/person. For more information visit Slaters5050.com.
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.