Why would a fast-casual Mexican eatery in Hollywood offer a “Trump Burger” that’s a monument to American excess?
“After [President Trump] came into office, one of the owners said, ‘Everything is Trump, Trump, Trump. Let’s do a Trump Burger,' ” chef Brian Perez recalls. “She made a Trump tower.”
Facefood restaurant added the high-rise Trump Burger to its menu in February, and it has remained alongside the lineup of burritos, taco salads and rice bowls. At $12.99, the Trump Burger is the most expensive item offered at the restaurant, which opened in May 2016 and is owned by three Peruvians. The Trump Burger consists of two beef patties, a third middle bun (like a Big Mac), double American cheese, four strips of bacon, a fried egg, corn, potato sticks, lettuce and tomato.
“We sell a few every day,” Perez says.
The tongue-in-cheek gimmick tramples a golden rule of dining: Don’t delve into politics or religion. Whether one loves or loathes the 45th U.S. president, the Trump Burger commands attention. A sign in the window of Facefood, at 900 N. Federal Highway, trumpets the burger. The only thing it is missing is a Twitter feed.
I’ve passed by the restaurant numerous times over the past few months, but I finally tried a Trump Burger this week. The timing seemed right, with the start of National Burger Month, the approach of Cinco de Mayo and Donald J. Trump’s completing his first 100 days in office.
The seasoned beef was charred to hockey-puck doneness (the way Trump likes his meat), but I didn’t know if this was intentional. Perez says all burgers are cooked to medium well unless otherwise requested. “I’m a medium-rare guy, but that’s the way the owners want it,” Perez says.
Still, the burger was weirdly hypnotic, much like our president. I couldn’t put it down or stop consuming it. I wrapped some to go, and my daughter had the same reaction when she munched on the leftovers.
Her take: “It’s kind of good.”
My summation: It’s huuuge.
I’ve had better burgers, but this one is a conversation starter. Is it a sly way to build a bridge instead of a border wall between American and Mexican cuisine? Is it a multi-ethnic rebuke to Trump’s isolationist, anti-immigrant and America-first rhetoric? Is it all just a shameless publicity ploy, something Trump the showman and pitchman could surely appreciate?
Whatever it is, the Trump Burger conjured some fitting unintended truth and humor. Similar to the president, there was hyperbole and exaggeration. The window sign features a massive hunk of meat, but the actual burger contained smaller, 3-ounce patties. And on my first visit, the restaurant had electrical problems, with its computers, air conditioning and hood-ventilation systems knocked out. When burger smoke started wafting through the warm dining room, the scene perhaps provided a smoggy preview of a country with looser environmental regulations and higher temperatures.
All was fixed and well the next day. If only the world were that easy.