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In the job that I perform in the "real world" of work, not CyberSpace, I'm fortunate enough to work with lots of nice people, many of whom I consider personal friends and spend time with them, off the job doing off-the-job sort of things.  Some of my friends were transfered to Sacramento from the Los Angeles area, and when the talk comes down to the likes of "who makes a good hamburger in L.A.?" the answer always seems to be Original Tommy's World Famous Hamburgers.  All of the transplanted ex-Los Angelinos seem to agree that Original Tommy's makes the best hamburger that they've ever tasted.  For me, that's food for thought!

Photo:  Original Tommy's in San Diego, featuring their drive-thru window, outdoor seating, and famous walk-up windows.

After talking to friends about Original Tommy's, and surfing their web site, I ascertained that Tommy doesn't do a whole lot of media advertising, as they seem to rely on the word-of-mouth method from satisfied customers. Original Tommy's was founded back in 1946 by a gentleman named Tommy Koulax, who opened up a simple hamburger stand at the corner of Beverly and Rampart Blvd's., near downtown Los Angeles.  It seems that Tommy had a mission in life, and that was, and still is the motto of the company:  Maintain quality at all costs. To me, in the world of fine cuisine, that sounds like a "take no prisoners" approach, but it works for me.  Tommy offered a quality burger, and he added a mid-western approach on his burgers, as his hamburgers included his wonderful chili.  That was 1946:  Fast forward to 2007, as of this writing, there are 29 Original Tommy's in Southern California, and at the end of the year, they will be expanding into Las Vegas, Nevada, which will surely raise some kilts of Las Vegas residents, who are used to the usual Sonic or McDonald's garden-variety hamburger.

Left:  The order counter has the menu posted above it.  The shy girl at the order counter didn't want her picture taken.  Right:  Original Tommy shows his original burger joint, as depicted in the photo posted to the wall of Original Tommy's restaurant, in San Diego.

History aside, from the recommendation of my co-workers, I just HAD to visit Original Tommy's to see what all of the fuss was about.  Eight o'clock in the morning, on Saturday, March 10, 2007, I found myself walking into the Original Tommy's in San Diego, which is the southernmost store, and the only Tommy's located in San Diego. Tommy's in San Diego is somewhat of  an oddity, as most of the Original Tommy's are located in the greater Los Angeles area, a hundred miles to the north.  Most Original Tommy's locations are open 24/7, as is the San Diego location, but at 0800 on a Saturday morning, I had the place to myself.  Well, I'm an early riser, and by the time that I finish my morning routine, a hamburger sounds great at eight in the morning, and since my friends had talked so much about Original Tommy's, I just HAD to pay them a visit.

At the time of my visit, there were two young girls working the restaurant, one who took orders from the counter, and took orders, using her radio headset, from the very active drive-thru window, and made change.  The other girl was busy in the kitchen, cooking burgers.  Original Tommy's offers a very limited menu, of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, tamales, French fries and drinks.  All of the burgers include:  Bun (of course,) pickles, hand-sliced beef steak tomato, fresh, chopped onions, Tommy's famous chili, 100% beef patty, double-thick slice of real cheese, and mustard.  If you ask the girl, she'll pile on extra condiments at no charge; if your burger can hold it.  The single most expensive item on the menu is the triple cheese burger an the inexpensive price of $4.20, so Original Tommy's World Famous Hamburgers classifies as "cheap eats" in my book.  Yes, Original Tommy's can post the claim to world famous, as their hamburgers have received extensive reviews in foreign press reports, and since Los Angeles is a world-destination city, many foreign visitors flock to Original Tommy's to enjoy their great burgers.

Photo:  Original Tommy's is spotless!  They feature Pepsi products, as witnessed by the self-serve Pepsi dispenser to the extreme left of the photo.  At 08:00 on a Saturday morning, I pretty much have the place to myself, and the girls in the kitchen are busy preparing my double cheeseburger order.

Besides the quality of their product, Original Tommy's prides themselves on their speedy service, and I was enjoying my double cheeseburger in less than five minutes after I had placed my order.  As I picked up my order, I attempted to act as a gentleman, and I actually asked the shy girl at the counter if I could take her photo, and she refused.  Acting like a gentleman, I put my hostile camera down, grabbed my tray, and sat myself down at the table of my choice, to enjoy a delicious double cheeseburger for breakfast.

My co-workers were right, as Original Tommy's serves a quality burger, at a very competitive price.  The hamburger patty is fresh, and it's grilled as soon as your order is placed, so you're not eating some microwave, warmed-up stuff.  The patty is fresh, and the juice just oooozes out of it as you bit into the burger.  The bun is fresh, and the burger includes the sliced beef steak tomato, chopped onions, pickle slices, a thick slice of semi-melted cheese, mustard, and Tommy's chili.  Oh it's soooo good!  Caveat:  Before eating a Original Tommy's burger, grab some paper towels from one of the many dispensers, and you're gonna need them, as between the fresh, juicy tomato, beef patty and Tommy's delightful chili, it's a mouthful and it's all finger licking good, and a lot of it will land up on your plate.

Photo:  Here it is:  Original Tommy's double cheeseburger, complete with double thick cheese, bun, pickles, hand-sliced beef steak tomatoes, fresh chopped onions, Tommy's famous chili, and mustard, delivered to me hot off the grill.  Tommy's burgers are made of fresh ingredients, and are freshly grilled, as your order is taken, as no heat lamps are used at Tommy's.  Delicious! Fresh!  Juicy!  Did I say the work, delicious?  Go for it!

My co-workers were correct, in that Tommy's prepares an outstanding burger, garnished with their delicious chili. Tommy's is a Los Angeles original, and an icon in the hamburger scene of Los Angeles.  After savoring a delicious hamburger at Original Tommy's World Famous Hamburgers, if you're visiting Los Angeles, and you're interested in a Los Angeles-area original, a visit to Original Tommy's is a must.  Highly recommended!

Original Tommy's World Famous Hamburgers
7415 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92111
858 715-0075

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