Friday, March 5, 2010

"Food Wars": Grill 'Em All vs. Baby's Badass Burgers

For foodies, one of the most entertaining topics of discussion is food rivalries. Who makes the best French dip in LA?: Phillipe's or Cole's? Who has the better pastrami sandwich?: Langer's or Brent's?

Luckily for us, The Travel Channel's newest program "Food Wars" (starting March 9) will help settle the score in some of the great rivalries in the edible kingdom.

Today, "Food Wars" filmed an episode in Santa Monica, pitting Baby's Badass Burgers against Grill 'Em All--two LA food trucks serving up their versions of gourmet burgers. With the promise of beer from the OC-based Bootlegger's Brewery (TV show tapings aren't noted for being speedy endeavors), tasty burgers and a day near the beach, what was not to love?

"Food Wars" Taping with Baby's Bad Ass Burgers and Grill 'Em All

"But this grill goes to 11..." The Grill 'Em All truck makes some signage for its cheering squad.

Grill 'Em All--This grill goes to 11...

"Food Wars" Taping with Baby's Bad Ass Burgers and Grill 'Em All

Heavy metal + burgers= Grill 'Em All.

Grill 'Em All

Grill 'Em All

After each truck was filmed individually for the show's opening, the crew filmed crowd shots as Baby's and Grill 'Em All prepared their food for the judging.

Grill 'Em All had an impressive number of supporters to cheer them and their burger on (they were smart and did some recruiting via Twitter). Although I can't say for certain, based on the judge's description of the burger, I believe their dish in the food war was the Molly Hatchet ($7.50 with seared fennel, sausage, gravy, maple drizzles).

Menu @ Grill 'Em All

Grill 'Em All

We ordered the Waste 'Em All ($6.50 with pepperjack cheese, chiles and beer-soaked onions). I don't ordinarly love the spice of pepperjack cheese, but it played nicely off the flavor of the onions. Every bite was loaded with delicious kick. The bun, however, was a little thick for my taste, and the lean beef lacked any real juiciness.

Waste 'Em All Burger @ Grill 'Em All

Let me preface this by saying that I loathe, hate and abominate Baby's Badass Burgers. No, I have never eaten their food, but I am completely offended by their gimmick of scantily clad women serving burgers (presumably, to hot-blooded males who love 1) T & A and 2) red meat). They make my estrogen hurt.

Baby's Bad Ass Burgers

Baby's didn't advertise on Twitter as Grill 'Em All did, and it showed in their low turnout of supporters. They Baby's girls ended up having to do some recruiting on and around the Santa Monica Pier.

I also think that Baby's branding strategy may have hurt them in terms of accumulating a core group of loyal followers. In my opinion, (straight) women will either be intimidated by the thin, skimpily-dressed woman serving them their burger or, like me, will be horrified. Conversely, any men who try to be nice to the girls are more likely to be perceived as skeevy rather than friendly. Because of this Catch-22 with both genders, it's hard to imagine being on a first-name basis with the staff of the Baby's truck like J and I are with our favorite food trucks.

Baby's Bad Ass Burgers

ANYHOO, I did appreciate that they gave out free sliders both during and after the taping. Free food is definitely a way to keep people happy!

Menu @ Baby's Bad Ass Burgers

When it comes to Baby's burgers, the consensus on Yelp seems to be that their food is tasty but overpriced for the size of their dishes. With the free sliders going around, however, it was time for me to try their food for myself.

Although I was prepared to hate their burger, I was pleasantly surprised by the All American Girl ($6 for the "baby burger" and $8 for the 1/2 lb "maneater" with smoked cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and "baby's special sauce")--Baby's competition burger. The meat was juicy and tender, and the smoky, spicy special sauce added a pleasant kick. That being said...I'd still never give them my money.

All American Girl @ Baby's Bad Ass Burgers
A starving J took a bite before he let me take a pic.

All in all, the day was fun and exciting, but I won't be hunting down either of these trucks in the future. At above-drive-thru prices, I expect an above-drive-thru quality burger, and neither of these delivered on that front.

If you want a delicious, quick, cheap burger, head to In-N-Out and, for around $6, get an entire meal. If you want a gourmet burger, spend $2 more than you would at these trucks and nom on a burger at Golden State Cafe. The beauty of the best LA food trucks is that you don't have to lower your standards to enjoy them, and these two have some work to do if they're to rank with the best. Grill 'Em All and Baby's Badass Burgers were by no means bad...just not great.

Finally, I won't tell you who won. For that, you have to tune in to "Food Wars" on the Travel Channel!

Grill 'Em All

Grill 'Em All in Los Angeles

Baby's Badass Burgers

Baby's Badass Burgers in Los Angeles


  1. Yup, Baby's gimmick grosses me out too. Their burgers aren't too bad, but I prefer Grill 'Em All. Truffle fries FTW! :)

  2. The Burger Babes are just sides
    the meat is the STAR between the buns
    ask any guy, gay or straight
    BadAss Burgers rules!

  3. Just read this, I can definitely refute the statement of not being on a first name
    basis with the crew of the Hot Pink Truck
    The girls and the cook have regulars who
    come by the Brig, the Pier, the Long Beach Mkt,
    West LA and Downtown
    the lady who wrote thus really has issues!

  4. I'm calling BS on the two anonymous posts within a 15 minute span. Especially when it looks like someone copy and pasted this statement since the text is off and wrote thus instead of this.

  5. Glad to see that the Baby's Badass Burger girls have mastered the art of Google. If only they'd learn subtlety, timing, correct sentence punctuation and spelling, they could have it all!