Restaurant Review #104: Barney's Beanery, Santa Monica

Barbecued cheeseburger with bacon

I went to Barney's with some fellow burger-lovers because of the restaurant's extensive burger menu. The burger menu actually isn't that extensive when you look at it more closely, however. It reads something like this:

Cheeseburger with bacon
Barbecued hamburger
Barbecued cheeseburger
Barbecued cheeseburger with bacon

and later on:

Chili burger
Chili cheeseburger
Chili bacon burger
Chili bacon cheeseburger
Chili, guacamole and cheese burger

You get the idea.

A disproportionate number of their burgers involve either chili or guacamole, which I think sounds completely repulsive. Granted, I hate chili, but I do love guac, so I feel somewhat unbiased in my assessment, even though I didn't try either (yeah, yeah).

I ordered a barbecued bacon cheeseburger. See, I passionately, passionately hate bacon, but I really like it on burgers and potato skins. Weird, I know. I ordered my burger medium well, which I know is blasphemous, but I didn't eat red meat for so many years that I just can't get over the pink meat thing--if it's still pink, it can't be ready to eat, can it? What if it starts bleeding, or worse, mooing, on my plate?

So yes, my burger was dry, but based on my extensive experience cooking burgers at home, I attribute the dryness to either the cooking method or to using meat with a low fat content. There's no excuse for a dry burger, no matter how you like it cooked. My homemade, pan-fried burgers with blue cheese, cumin, and kosher salt are plenty juicy (or perhaps just greasy, but that works for me). My friend had to send back her burger, it was so overdone.

Parmesan Burger--but that's not parmesan, that's provolone!

My other friend's parmesan burger had not a trace, not a hint of parmesan. Huh? The thick cut cajun fries were tasty and also made good leftovers when reheated in the toaster oven, but I thought that charging 35 cents extra for the cajun seasoning was pretty lame. Barney's also charges 35 cents extra for grilled onions on your burger, and 50 cents extra if you want a kind of cheese that isn't American. I hate the "build your own burger, but it will cost you" philosophy espoused by Barney's and the Library.

A major redeeming factor at Barney's (and the Library, hmm) is their massive beer list. I had a delicious Fat Tire (my long-time lover) and a raspberry cider from Canada, which was like a less sugary, more intersting alternative to Smirnoff Ice. There are no prices on the beer list, which is divided by region, but our beers ended up being $6 each, which is reasonable in Los Angeles (but just plain mean in St. Louis).

If you're not a burger fan, Barney's also makes, well, everything. Their menu is actually a small newspaper about the size of the Santa Monica Daily Press. Anyone could find something to eat here, including vegetarians.

The atmosphere is a lot like Chili's--noisy with tons of crap on the walls. There are also tons of TV's. If you sit at one of the booths lining the walls, you'll have four TV's to look at, so no matter what game you were hoping to catch, it will probably be on. Needless to say, I wouldn't take a date here, unless I wanted to get dumped for being a jackass.

Overall, Barney's isn't my kind of place--I could barely hear my friends across the table, which caused me to resign myself to watching the Nuggets fight through OT2 and checking out my old pal Sam Cassell swishing some free throws. Fortunately, I love basketball.

Barney's Beanery
1351 Third Street Promenade
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Website (with complete menu)


Girl in a Whirl said...

It is so rare that I find a place that is actually worth visiting for the hamburgers. Like pasta, I feel that burgers are one of those things that I can make very well on my own, thank you very much. So why pay someone else to unless they're really going to make my day.

I guess the exception to that is In-n-out, as I've blogged about already. I don't think I'd ever allow myself to make such greasy evil-ness at home you know?

I love your blog!

Anonymous said...

When making those burgers at home your friends might appreciate Bush's Chili-yea out of a jar. Thanks for the beer tip. The only place I ever had Flat Tire Beer is at the Hard Rock in LV. It looks like you have stepped up the pace on getting the Sawtelle reviews out. I would like to see a page on food that you catagorically dislike. D.

Foodie Universe said...

I actually wrote a list of foods I categorically dislike. It's been lurking in the food articles section. Here's the link:


I've also made a list of my favorite and least favorite restaurants:


btw, the beer is Fat Tire, not Flat Tire (common misconception).

I'm gonna lose it if I don't get to review Asahi soon!

Passionate Eater said...

I don't know whether you know this, but Barney's Beanery is a notorious site of protest for the Gay & Lesbian community. The owner posted a sign that refused service to homosexuals, so the homosexual community boycotted the restaurant. It was one of the earlier united political "statements" that the community made in Los Angeles. It is almost comparable to a Woolworth's lunch counter in the south.

Foodie Universe said...

Passionate Eater-
No, I had no idea! That is truly terrible. How did the owner even get away with posting such a sign??? When did this occur? Which location?

Passionate Eater said...

Whoops, sorry about the delayed response. Barney's Beanery is still a very popular place, and has a lot of historical significance. It happened at the LA location, but many years ago--I think in the 1940-70s. You can read more about it here.