4 Restaurants Serving Smash Burgers in O.C.

Flavor-packed flattened patties take over the burger scene.
Photograph by Danny Villanueva, Courtesy of Primal Cuts

Primal Cuts, the artisan butcher shop at Rodeo 39 Public Market, adds two smash burgers to its already stellar three-burger menu; served weekdays, each features a pair of 2.5-ounce aged-Angus patties plus American cheese, grilled onions, pickles, and a potato bun. The Classic Smash uses a Thousand Island-inspired spread, the Garlic Smash a garlic aioli. “We smash the patty down to almost paper-thin,” says Jason Trinh, one of two chef-partners. “So simple but so much flavor,” adds Anne Marie Damaso, the other. Much of that flavor derives from the grill itself, seasoned over time. 12885 BEACH BLVD., STANTON

The entry-level offering at smash burger bastion VaKa Burger, inside Mess Hall Market, presents two 2.5-ounce grass-fed beef patties on a brioche bun with two slices of American cheese and house-made pickles, ketchup, and Russian dressing. Top of the line, with six patties, is the Smash XXL Burger: every tasty, lacy bite packs a primal thunderbolt. “Cutthroat Kitchen”-winning chef-owner Aaron Perez’s weekly specials don’t change weekly; with luck, the Blades St. Smash with mustard, Havarti and cheddar cheeses, red onions, and house-made pickles and barbecue sauce is still there. 1705 FLIGHT WAY, TUSTIN

The Cut is best known for more elevated burgers, but its smash burgers get a menu all their own. The Mid menu, offered weekdays 2 to 4 p.m., includes single-, double-, and triple-patty versions (each patty 2.5 ounces of grass-fed beef) and half-price alcohol. Reminiscent of In-N-Out, the burgers feature American cheese, onions—you can request raw or grilled—pickles, “3K sauce,” and a Martin’s potato roll. “I love a plain cheeseburger,” owner Steve Kim says. “If the quality is top-notch, if you smash and char that patty right, the texture, that crunch, becomes a huge component.”  3831 ALTON PARKWAY, IRVINE,

The sandwiches at Mario’s Butcher Shop get most of the attention but, according to chef-owner Mario Llamas, the smash burger and double smash burger have been flying under the radar “since Day One” in summer 2021. Four-ounce patties combine end cuts of deli-case meats with chuck, the same blend used in the pricier Butcher Burger. Llamas prefers the smash burger and so do his customers. “I love McDonald’s,” he says. “Our smash is (like) a McDonald’s cheeseburger.” It outsells the Butcher Burger at least three to one. 1000 N. BRISTOL ST., NEWPORT BEACH, 949-316-4318