photo credit: Jakob Layman
Amboy Quality Meats
On July 29th, we posted a bold statement on Twitter: “Amboy Quality Meats has the best fries in Los Angeles, send tweet.”
And although it only got two likes (both from Infatuation staff members, no less), the sentiment remains the same: Amboy’s fries are by far the best in the city. They’re gloriously crisp and fried a touched-by-Midas gold. Cut thin, but not too thin. Served piping hot and properly salted, yet they neither burn your mouth nor fill your bloodstream with sodium. They taste like Saturday afternoons and McDonald’s without the artificial beef flavoring or the corporate greed. But how do they get that way? What’s Amboy’s secret?
“I mean, I don’t have a secret,” chef and owner Alvin Cailan laughs. “We just use non-genetically modified canola oil.”
Which, turns out, is only half true: They do use non-GMO oils, but that recipe didn’t just come from out of the blue - rather, it was the result of an exhaustive amount of trial and error.
“We tested 40 different [recipes]” Cailan says. “I used to make my own French fries, but I honestly got a better response from people when they ate frozen, brown-bag fries. I think it’s a nostalgia experience, as opposed to a craft and artisanal approach. I think people would rather have that comforting French fry.”
The process wasn’t easy. Creating the best fries on Earth doesn’t just happen. But after 40 interminable trials, like a lost ship making its way to harbor, they had done it. Amboy finally found their perfect fry. Then COVID-19 hit. The company they’d been purchasing their fries from promptly went under, leaving Amboy in the lurch, scrambling for a Plan B.
“We switched it,” Cailan says. “We switched to our second choice right before we opened.”
And it’s that unrelenting attention to detail, commitment to quality ingredients, and a rare aptitude for adapting on the fly that makes Amboy so incredibly good at what they do. Cailan (who rose to fame with Eggslut) has spent the last two years hosting The Burger Show on YouTube, traveling the country with everyone from Seth Rogen to Lana Condor in search of the perfect burger. In his own words, Amboy Quality Meats is a way for him to “flex a little.” And it shows.
Part burger joint, part full-service butcher shop, all of the meat at Amboy is of top-grade quality. Apart from the aforementioned fries, the star of the show here is the Classic Double - a simple, old-school burger featuring double-decker smashed patties (made of ground short rib, brisket, and rib-eye trim), American cheese, and caramelized onions. Eating it is akin to riding in a 1965 Mustang or watching Harrison Ford around the same time. If you’re looking for something with a little more heat, their Picanté Burger is also excellent, and comes with thinly sliced red onions, pickled peppers, and spicy mayo, achieving a subtle, expert-level harmony you don’t usually find at burger restaurants.
And of course - the fries. We could spend 8,000 more words on the subject (and still have more to say) but we’ll just leave you with this: Call in your order. It’s the only way to order them by the bag.
A near-perfect burger. The Classic Double doesn’t try to fancy itself up with words like “artisanal” or “added truffles,” but rather consists of the ideal balance of double smash patties, pickles, American cheese, and that knock-off In-N-Out sauce that every burger in LA seems to come with nowadays. If it were a perfume, it’d be Chanel No. 5. It’s one of Great American Novels in burger form. And probably this video in real life.
We may have mentioned this already, but these are the best fries in the city. Well, technically the second best, if you consider Amboy’s now-lost original fry recipe. Speaking of which, if anyone knows how to time travel (or has the capital to revive a sunken potato company), please contact us at email@example.com.
A great choice for anyone looking for a little heat. Two blended patties are served with a handful of pickled peppers and light dousing of spicy mayonnaise. Additional dill pickles provide slight acidity and crunch. The bun is soft. The mayo’s not too spicy. It’s maybe even… just right.
Really the only miss for us here. We usually don’t have beef with slabs of, uh, beef this size, but it’s just a little too much for a burger. Don’t get us wrong, the quality is definitely there - the dry-aged blend definitely showcases some Amboy’s most premium meats - and it’s topped with a potent mix of caramelized onions, garlic confit mayo, and melted provolone cheese. But it’s served a little too well-done, and at a whopping 10 ounces (⅔ of a pound), is very hard to eat. Perhaps you should order a steak instead?