We review the J. Nichols Classic, a burger topped with a tremendous mix of hickory sauce, mayo, and mustard on a patty of soft savory beef.
Our Review of J. Nichols Kitchen’s J. Nichols Classic Burger
Recently I had lunch with a good friend of mine (that’s his shirt in the photo – hey there, T) at J. Nichols Kitchen in Marina Del Rey on LA’s Westside. Open since 1974 and rebranded in 2011, J. Nichols serves classic comfort food with a modern twist. My burger was the J. Nichols Classic which is served with mustard, mayo, and a hickory sauce and is topped with pickles, lettuce, and tomatoes. I added bacon for $2 more, because bacon.
I paired it with an order of hand-cut fries, which comes with a side of ketchup, and an order of their mac and cheese, which is made with fontina and aged white cheddar.
Tasting the Burger
The burger was quite good, cooked just to the borderline of medium rare. The beef was soft, juicy, and savory. Overall the flavors of the burger melded together beautifully. The mustard and hickory sauce play off of each other well, mixing tangy with sweet. The sweetness is subtle and well balanced, pairing nicely with the saltiness of the pickles. The lettuce is shredded, which normally I don’t like but it in this case it works well with the sauces. The tomato was ripe and red, with a softness that melted when I took a bite.
The bun is lightly toasted and buttered. It’s soft and moist and picks up the juiciness of the beef, which makes the entire thing slightly messy but very flavorful. The bacon was salty and slightly chewy, though a bit understated. Since the other flavors are so strong, they could handle a bolder taste from the bacon. The cheddar topping the burger is sharp, though not overly so. I’m personally a fan of extremely sharp cheddar and this burger could definitely benefit from it.
The fries were thin fries (not our favorites here at Burger Grades), though good for their type. They were crispy with some softness inside and were perfectly salted with a light dusting of sea salt – any more and it would have been overpowering.
Extra Credit (Mac & Cheese)
J. Nichols mac & cheese was terrific; a classic comfort food. It was as if they took everything that’s great about Kraft Mac & Cheese and turned it up to 11. It was creamy and sharp, and the macaroni had a texture that was firm without being chewy. The two cheeses (fontina & cheddar) came together well and the whole dish comes covered in a light, crispy crust.
- The J. Nichols Classic couples great beef with an excellent mix of sauces. Add a sharper cheddar and stronger bacon and this A- easily becomes an A.
- The fries were a solid example of thin fries that acquit themselves well, but still thin fries. When coupled with ketchup, they get the job done but little else. I give them a B.
- Overall a very good burger and an enjoyable meal, I give it a B+, bordering on an A-.
- At $16 for burger and fries, it’s on the higher side of “normal price” for LA (and the ample side of Mac & Cheese was only $5). The cost adjusted grade stays at a B+