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Readers flip for their own burger joints

June 16, 2004

Charles Perry's article on hamburgers in Los Angeles ("It's an L.A. Thing," June 9) generated several dozen letters, many of which complained that Perry neglected to mention the writers' favorite burger joints: Barney's in Brentwood, Big Mike's in Bellflower, Islands and Tommy's, to name a few. Here are some more:

A good hamburger is hard to find anywhere. [The] article pointed out some great places for well-crafted burgers in L.A. That's terrific; I intend to check them out.

But the swipe at New York is ridiculous. The fact is, NYC's burger scene compares favorably with L.A.'s or any other major city's.

J. Marc Mushkin

Irvine

I love California, L.A., the L.A. Times and hamburgers, but I am a swamp yankee from Connecticut, and your article makes no mention of Louis' Lunch of New Haven, Conn., which according to the Library of Congress, takes the hamburger sandwich honors.

Karen Gamell

Soquel, Calif.

Charles Perry replies: A number of readers have pointed out that the Library of Congress credits Louis' Lunch with inventing the hamburger in 1895. What can I say? The Library of Congress is wrong.

A story in The Times, Sept. 23, 1894, reported that the lunch carts around 1st and Main streets sold "ham-and-egg sandwiches, hamburger steak, pig's feet and a variety of comestibles whose price never exceeds 10 cents."

Notice that everything the carts were selling was fast food, eaten out of hand, so these hamburgers had to have been sandwiches.

I wasn't claiming that Los Angeles is where the hamburger sandwich was invented, because the issue of its home isn't settled, only that various places that have been making that claim either can't prove it or are definitely wrong.

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