Summer Grilling: Try Making Cafe del Rey's Lamb Burger

Photo courtesy Cafe del Rey

At some point this holiday weekend--and this summer--you will be around a grill, and a burger will be thrust at you. Could be beef, turkey or vegetarian, but there will be a patty, a bun and condiments to make it your own. So why not make things a little interesting: Try a lamb burger.

Right now, we love the one found at Café del Rey, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary in Marina del Rey. The restaurant has gone through many changes over the years--different chefs and menus, a few nips and tucks--but it always remains a great place for dinner or brunch with a view of bobbing boats right outside the window. The lamb burger is a highlight of the newest menu, which now more Mediterranean than Cal-Asian.

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Mixing Manchego cheese and harissa into the meat before grilling makes this burger particularly unique. "You get the creaminess of the cheese when it melts down, some spice from harissa, and coolness from the tzatziki that we put on top," says new chef Daniel Roberts. "We wanted to have an upscale take on the traditional burger at the restaurant, and this one has a great balance of flavors."

We agree. And you know what goes great with it? Peach sangria, which the restaurant serves in the bar every Friday night throughout the summer. Try them both for your next barbecue--therecipes are below:

Moroccan Lamb Burger
Recipe adapted from Daniel Roberts
Makes 4 servings

For the burgers:

  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 tablespoon harissa
  • 1/3 pound Manchego cheese, cubed
  • 4 buns
  • Lettuce leaves and sliced tomato

    For the tzatziki:

  • 2 cucumbers, peeled and seeded
  • 2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt

    1. Light the grill to medium-high heat. In a bowl, combine the ground lamb, cheese cubes and harissa. Portion into four patties and set aside.

    2. In a bowl, grate the cucumbers and add the yogurt, lemon and garlic. Add the mint and cilantro, and salt to taste.

    3. Grill burgers 5 minutes per side (for medium rare). Spread the tzatziki on both sides of buns, top the burger with lettuce and tomato and serve.

    White Hot Peach Sangria
    Recipe adapted from Café del Rey
    Makes 20 servings

    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 cup water
    • 10 to 12 white peaches, pitted and diced (yield about 5 ½ cups)
    • 3 bottles white wine
    • ¼ bottle brandy
    • ¼ cup peach schnapps
    • 1 orange, rind cut off and sliced into wheels
    • 1 lemon, rind cut off and sliced into wheels
    • 1 lime, rind cut off and sliced into wheels
    • 1 vanilla bean
    • Soda water

    1. In a pan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar, water and 1 cup diced peaches cook until boiling. Reduce heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Turn off heat and let cool. Once cooled, strain into a bowl, toss the fruit and set the simple syrup aside.

    2. In a large container, combine the wine, brandy, peach schnapps and 1 cup of the simple syrup. Add the oranges, lemons and limes. Slice vanilla bean in half and scrape the insides of the pod into the container. Stir and let stand 48 hours. To serve, pour into rocks glasses or mason jars filled with ice and top with a splash of soda.

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