LA’s best new burger spot tucks away on a public golf course in Long Beach

The green deck at the back of the pro shop at Bixby Village Golf Course in Long Beach ebbs and flows with people over the course of an afternoon. Low clouds and coastal breezes mean customers linger longer, opening cans of cheap beer and exchanging stories about country life. There are no fancy clubs on this 42-year-old nine-hole course, just friends laughing, reliving old stories and hanging out. Stay long enough, and one of Dave Trepanier’s burgers will also be in front of you.

Everyone who stops at Bixby Village Golf Course gets a hamburger eventually – or should. Trepanier’s airy, thicker-than-smashed backyard beef burgers are not only keeping golfers on the small executive course with frayed fairways, but also attracting a whole new clientele of young and hungry Long Beach patrons who are always on the go. in search of the next great meal. Soon they’re here, eyeing the long, flat grill of the golf course patio restaurant known simply as Crack.

“When I got here, it was just an old diner,” says Trepanier, speaking fast and sporting his hair slicked back. He is always playing with customers, except when it comes to their food. The space he now occupies, a third of a small building next to the parking lot, was empty for seven years before Trepanier arrived. Letting people know he had arrived was serious work. “I couldn’t get these old golfers out of the oatmeal to come upstairs and eat with me,” he jokes, “so I took a flat grill out on deck and started putting onions and bacon on it, just to permeate the course with scent. So I started with a $5 hamburger; I had to have something when they got here.”

A long hot plate next to palm fronds on the deck of a golf course pro shop.

The long flattop on the deck.

A row of hamburgers seen from above on a metal plate outside.

Bacon jam on top of the cheese.

In just over a year, Trepanier has gone from bacon bait to Long Beach’s hottest new underground burger. His place has almost no signage and is inside another business. But the rumors about his hidden hamburger are out. “Now 80% of my business is non-golfers,” he says, making sure to highlight his five-star rating on Yelp. “I don’t like Yelp and they don’t like me, but the numbers don’t lie.”

Not the hamburgers. For $12 each, each is piled high with well-grilled beef, toasted for a backyard polish. There’s an opening swipe of the loose burgers that helps seal the meat, but everything else is in the details. “It’s not my flesh, it’s what I no do with the hamburger,” says Trepanier, “I don’t touch it.” The end result is thick and chunky, far from the crumpled paper-thin versions around greater Los Angeles these days. Loose shape means lots of cliffs and spots for fat accumulation; it’s similar in style to Venice’s Hinano Cafe or Hawkin’s House of Burgers in Watts. The shredded lettuce and thick slice of tomato nod to Los Angeles burger traditions as much as the hot Yellow Paper Burger, but it’s Trepanier’s sweet bacon and onion jam that rounds the burgers into shape.

“My taste buds are salty and sweet,” says Trepanier, who — after a year as a one-man operation, including a stint making breakfast foods — is only now starting to let someone else cook the meat. He keeps an eye on them, alternating between telling lewd jokes to customers and giving the cook stern advice. It’s been hard for him to let go, he admits, because the restaurant is his world at the moment, and because cooking has always been a place for him to find perspective. He spent much of his childhood cooking for himself while his mother worked long hours; he still remembers receiving a small set of pots and pans as a birthday present. So he grew up and moved on, landing blue-collar jobs in the metallurgical industry before life took a turn.

A tall photo of a handwritten menu board to show various burgers.

The small menu.

“I spent three years in prison,” says Trepanier. “I was a helpless drug user, and I learned to manufacture. I was at a small camp in Baker and I needed a job there, so I got one in the kitchen. It’s where I wanted to spend my time.”

“I joke with customers,” he says. “They ask me where I learned to cook and I say ‘in prison’ and they just laugh because they don’t really know.” Then comes the joke, for him: “Manufacture [drugs] it was just another cooking job, but it’s one I can’t brag about.”

Now Trepanier can brag about Crack, this little burger joint out of nowhere that’s really just a golf deck. He can brag about his ortega burger with chiles hatch, his thick, rich bacon jam and chipotle burger called Dirty (a playful nickname for his best friend and biggest supporter), and his growing customer base. Trepanier sells about 100 hamburgers a day, Tuesday through Sunday, along with specials like rib sandwiches, wings, and whatever else he wants to whip up — and those numbers are growing.

“I want this to be a little hidden gem of a place,” he says as burger fans and golfers circulate, eating and drinking and exchanging stories. “I love people who come in and say it’s like eating in a friend’s backyard.”

crack sells from 10 am to 6 pm, Tuesday through Sunday, at the Bixby Village Golf Course at 6180 Bixby Village Drive in Long Beach.

A close up shot of a hamburger on a browned bun with green chile inside.

The ortega burger with a chile hatch.

A man in a blue hat and apron presses a beef burger on a plate.

A new worker burning part of a hamburger.

A backyard-style burger with dark edges and vegetables on a browned bun, shown up close.

The classic bacon jelly burger with lettuce and tomato.

A downward angled shot looking at a hamburger with loose edges on a green table.

The jagged edges of the dirty hamburger.

A simple patio setup with a hamburger grill and customers waiting.

Inside a simple pro golf shop, near the checkout, with golf balls on display.

A sign for a golf course, made of wood, on a green lawn.

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