Playa del Rey, CA – The Shack

“The Shack” is one of Southern California’s homages to the classic surfer bar…even though you cannot surf nearby, it exudes an atmosphere of beach, beer, burgers, and “bums.” Purchased by the current owners in the 70s, this Los Angeles burger bar has spawned a number of off-shoot locations in Southern California and Hawaii.

When I lived in Los Angeles, a long time ago, maybe even before cars, I had a burger posse, and one day a week, usually, we would head out in search of a new burger find, and tho we endeavored to try someplace new each week, more than once we’d head back to the Shack for sloppy seconds, as it were.

By today’s hoity-toity Los Angeles standards, the Shack probably isn’t on most burger efficionado’s radar these days,

Seeking a bit of burger nostalgia on my current burgerama tour of SoCal, I invited my old friend Magoo from Missoula to meet me at the original location, which is snuggled between LAX and the Marina.

Magoo is the kind of girl who is far more at home alighting from a Bentley at the valet parking in front of some posh Beverly Hills eatery, but to patronize an old guy, she agreed to step it down a notch for one night to make me smile.

Things were looking up right away when we scored a parking lot for her sleek German lux uber SVU in the Shack’s tiny lot.

We slid into the spot, then slid into a booth overlooking the bar. This location also has an enclosed outdoor patio on the street side. We perused the menu before placing our order at the bar, with a couple of Stella’s to lube the dusty pipes first.

The Shack’s menu is pretty typical bar fare, wings, rings, poppers and the like. In deference to the Hawaii connection, they also offer the typical Hawaiian “plate lunch”, a piece of protein with two scoops of rice, and a scoop of mac salad.

But their tagline is “serving epic burgers since 1972”, and tonight I would be diving into one of those epic creations, my old favorite, The Shack Burger, (“Try the Burger that made us famous!), a 1/4 pound cheeseburger, all the fixins, and plopped right on top of the burger, a split, nicely-charred Louisiana hot sausage (or Portuguese sausage). I took it as prepared, as is my habit lately, even if I am not going to consume it in that fashion, so I can see the finished product as the chef envisioned it. Magoo went with a straight cheeseburger, hold the mayo. We split an order of fries.

The Shack Burger was everything I imagined, and everything I could have wanted. Having lived in New Orleans, I’m always more than happy to wolf down a Louisianan hot sausage, and it’s the perfect overkill addition to a char burger experience.

The Shack Burger comes piled high with condiments and burger veggies, and is also available in a half-pound version.

The patty is good tasting, slightly seasoned on its own, with a nice grill flavor.

The bar was bespeckled with its group of familial regulars it seemed, the sports tv’s volume low enough to be tolerable, and the memories invoked by the ambience, food, and company were enough to take me back to a kinder, gentler, time in burger history.

The Shack is a short cab ride from LAX if you ever find yourself on a big layover there, and you’ve answered all your emails, done your duty free shopping, and have hours left to kill. Think of it as your own personal “man cave” away from home!

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