Everyone loves burgers (except maybe sociopaths, and even they probably enjoy a bacon western from time to time) but if you grew up in restaurants, specifically in restaurants like The Oinkster as brothers Max and Fred Guerrero did, your love of burgers might grow into something more akin to obsession. Which is pretty much exactly what happened to the Guerrero brothers, as evidenced by the fact that they created their own Tumblr page called Burgerlords years ago as an homage to all things burger-related (which is a lot of things) culled from the Internet and available for all to drool over. Unsurprisingly, their web shrine went viral (they were even invited to speak at Tumblr HQ) and what started out as a hobby became much bigger when the Guerreros decided to give in to fate and open up their own eating establishment. And thus Burgerlords the restaurant was born.
The brothers had already made a name for themselves on the east side of LA with their art gallery Slow Culture with plans to move the gallery to Chinatown in February, so it made sense to up their new venture there as well. They partnered with their close friend Kevin Hockin to create a no frills, top notch burger destination with menu items made from the highest quality ingredients possible, sourced from both local and national vendors, for a delicious end result worthy of the admiration of burger aficionados the world over. And all at a reasonable price.
Burgerlords opened their doors this past fall, and has already begun to build up a dynamic burger-loving community around it. I chatted with Max and Kevin about their new establishment:
When was the first moment you fell in love with burgers? Give me all the juicy details.
MAX: I’d have to say it was the inception of our burger blog back in the early 2000s. It wasn't until then that I had a true appreciation for burgers and the fanatic culture surrounding them. Spending countless hours every day Google image searching for blog content really opened my eyes to how powerful the burger really is. It's really quite limitless to what you can do with the damn thing.
KEVIN: I fell in love with burgers while growing up Atlanta and frequenting the Varsity. Everyone loved their hot dogs...not me. I was into their burgers and the frosted orange.
Tell me more about the Burgerlords blog that set this whole thing into motion.
MAX: The blog started out as sort of an archive of burger content gathered from doing tons of research prior to opening the restaurant. One thing we've always been good about is creating a solid mood board that embodies the vision/concept we're about to embark on. There was so much amazing content that we felt it needed an outlet. That’s when the Tumblr was created. As it started gaining traction we used it to filter in our own original content that we created to market the burgers at The Oinkster. Almost a decade later we pulled the biggest Hail Mary of our career and turned it into restaurant.
Prior to opening Burgerlords, what was it that you were looking for when seeking out the perfect burger to eat?
MAX: We were looking for the quintessential hamburger, but I don't feel like we found one. I think we created one.
KEVIN: Ever since moving to LA 6 years ago, I've been a bit overwhelmed with all the "over the top" burgers out here...then I discovered The Oinkster thanks to the late & great Justin VanHoy, who introduced me to Fred and Max. The Oinkster burger was always a staple in my routine, because it wasn't too crazy, and because their fries are great.
What do you think Burgerlords offers that other burger establishments don’t?
MAX: I’d have to say it’s the restaurant’s identity; it’s not trying to be anything it’s not. There’s no unnecessary excess. All the fat has been trimmed to give you what we feel is the most honest burger experience possible.
It's really quite limitless to what you can do with the damn thing.
Right now you guys keep it pretty simple in terms of menu and convenience, but are there future plans for Burgerlords expansions, collaborations, or events that you can hint at?
MAX: As far as the menu goes, simplicity was always the goal from the get-go. The only addition to the menu you can expect from us would be beer, as well as some new merchandise collaborations between fellow Slow Culture alumni since they'll be lingering around Chinatown after the gallery’s big move in February. And once this location gets dialed in we would love to pop up a few more of these around the city.
And finally, how do you each take your burger?
MAX: I eat the Vegan Cheese Burger everyday with both onions (caramelized & raw) and no lettuce. Its really a beautiful thing.
KEVIN: I take my burger however it's listed on the menu. I'm not picky. However, Burgerlords has nearly turned me into a vegetarian....yep, the veggie burger is that solid.