The Topa Topa Burger at Ojai Burger in Downtown Orange, CA. Photos courtesy of Ojai Burger.
Amidst the quaint streets of Downtown Orange lies a plethora of modern eateries, boasting worldly flavor that delivers festive contrast to old-style architecture and a cozy roundabout, pocket-park setting. And amidst the long list of lauded culinary destinations here, no eatery epitomizes the Downtown Orange dining scene as much as Ojai Burger. A small but mighty fast casual operation, this Japanese-American burger concept draws a constant line (but not an overwhelming one), attracting patrons of all types looking for other-worldly flavor.
Ojai began as Yume Japanese Burger Café, an equally humble establishment tucked away in the even more humble town of Ojai, CA: a few miles inland from Ventura and about two hours northwest of Orange County. The concept gained such popularity that husband-and-wife Founders Takeshi and Chikage Ozaki decided to expand, ultimately setting their sights on Orange and handing the reigns to restaurateurs and friends Michael Wu, Carl Tong, Kasper Hsu, and Peter Yang, who appropriately named the new location after its birthplace. Ojai Burger wasted no time in serving up the same Japanese-inspired delicacies the original concept was built on.
Your first bite into the Topa Topa burger confirms that Ojai Burger delivers a truly special flavor profile. Their patties pack a punch, soaking in a wealth of bold and beautiful undertones stemming from a secret spice blend. Top that with creamy Topa Topa sauce, crispy onions and a heap of avocado, put it in a brioche bun, and you’ve got yourself a burger that you’re not going to find in too many other parts of SoCal. Another fun alternative is the Chief Peak burger, swapping out the avocado for sauteed onions and mushrooms and the Topa Topa for tangy demi-glace sauce.
Ojai Burger takes their fry game seriously, sporting an array of ‘loaded fries’ topped with variations of sliced beef, intricate sauces and fun garnishes. Like the burger, the Topa Topa wagyu fries boast marinated beef and the same smattering of avocado that would sit well with any token millennial. If you’re looking for something with even more international flavor, try the Takoyaki: balls of rice flour stuffed with sliced octopus and fried, then topped with tempura flakes and onion. Or perhaps the Japanese croquettes, a larger, vegetarian fried specialty filled with mashed potato.
Milkshakes and waffles are an absolute must here. The ube milkshake is simply spectacular, packing as much silky, sweet deliciousness as its bright purple color profile boasts intrigue. Gotta get it with crushed Oreo on top, and all milkshakes are completed with chocolate-dipped pocky as a garnish. And the waffles are simply other-worldly, using a rice flour that gives them a thick, rich and spongy texture that perfectly complements their sweetness. Make it a waffle sundae with a huge scoop of ice cream and caramel drizzle on top for a perfect—albeit indulgent—end to an epic Modern American meal.
Ojai Burger is located at 238 W Chapman Ave #100,l Orange, CA 92866. Open 11a – 9p Sun – Thu and 11a – 10p Fri/Sat. For more information call (657) 221-0619, visit EatOjaiBurger.com or follow them on Instagram.
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