I ate at Fatburger and discovered why it’s one of the most underrated chains in fast food

Fatburger is one of the most underrated chains

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Fatburger is one of the most underrated chains
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Irene Jiang / Business Insider
  • Burgers taste good because they contain fat – among other things.
  • Fatburger is the only major burger chain to use the word “fat” in its branding. But the last decade has seen the food industry shift away from fatty foods, making “fat” a potentially dangerous word when it comes to advertising.
  • But I say that burgers must be fatty to taste good, and there’s no point in pretending otherwise. So on a recent trip to Los Angeles, I visited a Fatburger restaurant.
  • The reward was one of the juiciest, most flavorful burgers I’ve had from a chain, and some pretty decent fries. My conclusion? Fatburger is one of the most underrated chains out there.
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There’s something about burgers.

Nothing has defined American food and fast food more than the burger. What is it about a ground beef patty slapped between two glorified pieces of bread that just keeps us coming back?

Burgers have that special something: fat.

Yet America has become afraid of fat. Current nutrition consensus seems to say that fat doesn’t actually make us fat – calories do. But the word still frightens us. Fatburger is the only fast-food chain to embrace the word in its branding.

But ever since the chain went public in 2017, its stock has been steadily declining. Nevertheless, the brand has remained stalwart in its efforts to climb back up, embracing innovations like the Impossible burger and vegan Daiya cheese.

Who’s afraid of a fatty burger? Not me. On a recent trip to Los Angeles, I made it a point to eat lunch at a Fatburger. Here’s what it was like:


I scootered to a Fatburger restaurant in West Hollywood. At first glance, I thought it was closed.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The paint was faded and peeling, and the lights were dim or off.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Inside, the restaurant had a charming retro interior with neon lettering and vibrant colors.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

But even though I arrived at around 1 p.m., the place was pretty empty.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Fatburger serves three things: burgers, fried sides, and milkshakes. Fatburger was also one of the first chains to embrace the Impossible burger.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Fatburger claims that all of its food is cooked from fresh, not frozen ingredients.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

As I waited for my food, I wandered the restaurant. This sign answered Fatburger’s greatest mystery: its name.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The sign reads: “In 1952, Lovie Yancey created something unique. A culture. A phenomenon, if you will. She created the biggest, juiciest hamburgers anyone had ever seen. So obviously there was only one name for them – Fatburger.”


The sign also states that Fatburger founder Lovie Yancey loved music (and musicians). As a result, Fatburger was the choice hangout for stars like Ray Charles and Redd Foxx.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Source: Fatburger website


Finally, my meal arrived: an original Fatburger with all the fixings, a side of fries, and a cup of lemonade. Before tax, the total cost of my meal was $10.50.

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The original Fatburger is a third-pounder patty in a bun with the works — lettuce, tomato, cheese, pickles, onion, mayo, mustard, and relish.

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This wasn’t my first time at Fatburger — I’d eaten there a few times as a child — but I didn’t remember much about my meals there.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

I was stunned by the beautiful deep brown layer of caramelization on my patty.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Holy fat. This burger earned the “fat” in its name.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

An outer layer of crisp gave way to a tender patty that oozed with meaty juice.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Mustard? Tangy. Pickles? Crunchy. Lovie Yancey set out to make the perfect burger, and she did it.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The “fat” in Fatburger might also refer to the amount of grease on your hands after you touch one.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

A sip of Minute Maid lemonade and then it was on to the next part of my meal:

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The fries.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Like my burger, these were fresh and piping hot.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

These fries were a huge step up from In-N-Out’s sad cardboard, and they were significantly better than McDonald’s fries.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Every burger needs a sidekick, and these fries were the perfect partner-in-crime.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

As I sank my teeth into my mouthwatering meal, I found myself wondering why Fatburger wasn’t more popular.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The food was much, much better than the food at your standard fast-food joint.

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Plus, prominent musicians like Kanye West and athletes like Magic Johnson played a large role in investing in and expanding the chain throughout its history.

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The only thing that I didn’t feel great about was the name. My suspicion is that Fatburger’s branding is dragging the chain down.

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Using the word “fat” prominently in branding seems like a risky move especially considering the last decade’s shift towards an increased focus on healthy eating.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

In a world full of farm-to-table burgers and Big Macs, Fatburger falls somewhere in the shrinking niche between.

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Is the demand for old-fashioned, gut-busting burgers shrinking along with the Boomer generation and America’s middle class?

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

I suppose everything — even the burger — evolves over time.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

But a dang good burger is still a dang good burger.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

I’m not sure why Fatburger doesn’t get the hype it deserves.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

I think people are afraid of the “Fat”. But they shouldn’t be.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

A burger is always going to be bad for you. But that’s not the point of a burger, which isn’t an everyday meal.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

A good burger should simply taste good. And Fatburgers taste really, really good.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

So why isn’t Fatburger a bigger deal? Maybe it’s the name. It’s certainly not the burgers.

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Irene Jiang / Business Insider