REVIEW: Meathead! offers a new mashup: pizza burgers

In the crazy world of food mashups, dishes such as Nutella pizza and bulgogi tacos have gained major traction on social media foodies. Southern California has become a hub for novel culinary trends, with milky buns — ice cream donut sandwiches — from After’s Ice Cream to sushi donuts from Project Poke. But has anyone tried a pizza burger yet?

Meathead! can offer that experience. Located on Main and 7th Streets, this new downtown eatery boasts an impressive and refined menu that features burgers, breakfast burritos, bowls and fries. While Meathead! offers a mix between Eastern and Western flavors with quirky items such as the Kim Park Lee burger, its specialty is the Meatzza — an option that turns any burger of your choosing into a pizza burger.

The little shack was bustling with customers waiting for their order. Outside, three tables were accompanied by some chairs, benches and sun umbrellas. Upon entry into the shack, customers were greeted by Meathead!’s handwritten menu on a whiteboard. A little metallic bar with stools underneath the menu offered seating for about four to five people. On the left, customers made their orders through a small window.

Meathead! features a menu that changes daily depending on its offerings. However, five different types of burgers ranging between $7.50 and $9.50 are consistently on the menu: the Meathead!, the Eastern, the Kim Park Lee, the Beef! Beef! and the Yakuza. On the fries menu, the stand offers the Notorious P.I.G. and the Killa Kam fries — one with a Hispanic influence, the other Korean.

The Meatzza option — Meathead!’s signature concept — can be applied to any of the burgers upon request for $3. To further elaborate, the Meatzza magically transforms an average burger into a pizza burger by inverting the bun. After it’s flattened, the bun is doused in tomato sauce and melted cheese, topped with mini pepperoni slices and placed on top of your burger of choice.

The Yakuza burger used chicken katsu strips as its patty instead of ground beef. In addition, the Yakuza was packed with applewood bacon, a fried egg, white onion, green cabbage slaw and a tonkatsu spread. With all its components, the Yakuza was a clever mix of ingredients that almost cohesively mixed the East and West together. However, the chicken katsu was slightly overcooked. In addition, instead of a fully cooked egg, a sunny side up egg with a runny yolk would have enhanced the moisture of the burger. What redeemed the burger overall was its tonkatsu sauce, due to its tangy Japanese barbeque flavor.

The next item was the Killa Kam fries, which could have been their own full meal. The thin fries were drizzled with a thick pink jalapeño cheese and loaded with kimchi slaw, pickled jalapeño, green and white onions, toasted sesame and slices of bulgogi beef. Every component of the dish worked well together, but made it also very filling. Meathead! could have been a bit more liberal with the amount of bulgogi on the fries, but the slices of brisket were still flavorful without being overbearing. The golden crisp on the fries and jalapeño cheese, in the end, were the main stars of the dish, adding bursts of flavor to every bite.

Finally, the Meathead! burger, the namesake of the eatery, is a must-try item — especially with the Meatzza option. Topped by a bun that almost resembled a pizza bagel, the sandwich was made to perfection. Caramelized onions, dill pickles and lettuce complemented the flavors well, but there were four components that added a dynamic twist to the burger. Though it was cooked medium-well, the ground angus beef remained tender and juicy.

Moreover, the Meathead! sauce and smashed and roasted tomato gave the burger a refreshing, tangy taste. Despite having the potential to overwhelm, the Meatzza bun did not disappoint. Surprisingly, the entire burger — with its many different components — was cohesive, and all the flavors harmonized into one piece of meaty perfection.

Meathead! is not for the faint of heart. With an outrageous menu that features a wide mix of ingredients, the eatery will be an experience for any meat lover out there. And in just a bit of time, the Meatzza — or the pizza burger — is bound to take over the next cycle of Southern California food trends.