HOME > Chowhound > California >


Tioli's Crazy Burger (San Diego)

After reading Naomi Wise's rave about this place several weeks back, finally made it in there today to check it out. It was very good, and is definitely worth a try.

The building used to house a restaurant called Tioli's (which was horrible), and the owner kept the moniker because he was able to purchase their beer and wine license.

The menu consists of burgers, salads, and bratwurst. There are a lot of burger choices, including a German style 1/2 pork, 1/2 beef burger, a Grecian style 1/2 beef and 1/2 lamb, plus turkey, buffalo, ostrich, and alligator versions, with all kinds of interesting toppings.

Also of note was their selection of German draft beers - they had three from Spaten: lager, Optimator, and hefeweizen. They also had some Pilsner Urqell, and a couple of decent domestics (Firestone Double Barrel and Sam Adams), and Newcastle. It was hot, so I ordered a lager to help me decide on food.

The owner was on hand, and made several recommendations. I saw they had a burger with imported sauerkraut. I asked him about it, and he said they imported real German sauerkraut made with white wine. He said it was especially good with their house-made pork bratwurst. He directed me to a special they run, which is a bratwurst, kraut, and German-style potato salad, with a glass of wine or an imported beer for only $10. Couldn't pass up a deal like that, so that's what I ordered.

The food came, and $10 for this amount of food was really a great deal. The bratwurst was sizeable, and came with a flame-grilled roll. They also make their own mustard in-house, which is of the spicy brown variety. The mustard with the brat and the kraut was great. The mustard was pungent and strong, the brat rich and satisfying, and the kraut tender and sweet.

The potato salad was also delicious, with strong flavors of mustard and vinegar.

My friends who went with me ordered some different stuff - one got the burger, another the brat special only he chose the smoked brat. They offer three house-made brats in total: pork, veal, and smoked (not sure which meat goes into the smoked one). My friend with the burger, while he said it was good, did wish he had ordered one of the brat plates.

This is definitely a good place to check out. Prices are very reasonable. Most of the burgers are around $5 for 1/2 pound patty, with some slightly more expensive based on toppings. The exotic burgers like buffalo and ostrich are pricier, coming in around $11.

I have a hard time imagining I would go there and not get the brat special though - that's really one of the best meal deals I've seen around San Diego.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Thanks for the tip. My wife and I have added it to our list for our trip to San Diego in two weeks.

    1. I went to Tioli's Crazyburger last Tuesday for lunch with my wife, her mother and her mother's friend. Driving up, I was met with (from my wife): "You better check it out. And make sure it's clean!"

      I did, and the place was cleaner than many fine restaurants. The place is not fancy at all, but the owner clearly takes pride in his place. It's bright, clean and has interesting art--for sale--on the walls.

      Among the four of us we had three burgers--one with mushrooms, one with blue cheese and one with brie--and a Greek salad with chicken, together with one order of fries. My burger, the "blue" one, was excellent. Very flavorful and juicy! The other burgers lloked good, and received good reports. My wife, who is somewhat suspicious of less than upscale places, liked her salad.

      I recommend Tioli's. It's probably not a destination place, but it's certainly worth looking for if you're in the North Park area.

      1. I have not yet been, it's on my list, but why isn't this place busier? It was nearly empty when I went by on Friday at 1pm and Saturday at 8pm. With several good reviews, what's up?

        1. We're always in search of a new 'best' burger joint to top our fave, Rocky's in Crown Point so after reading Naomi's review, we went to Tioli's Crazy Burger a couple weeks ago. We found it to be just okay and doubt we'll return-- it's not even in our top 3 in town. Rocky's reigns supreme.

          While we enjoyed the selection at Tioli's, we found much of the experience a bit annoying. For instance, for salt and pepper, they make you use those tiny packets. Sadly, the burger was in need of flavor so we needed to fumble through several. You get a real glass for your water, but paper packets of salt...annoying. The ordering scheme is kind of clunky-- order at the counter, go to your table and they bring it to you. The beers we ordered were warm. The burgers, a bit over done. Basically, it was a burger joint with some good PR.

          If you haven't tried Rocky's, do yourself a favor and give it a go. First, they use a griddle, not a grill meaning the fat (ie flavor) stays in the burger. Next, the bun-to-burger ratio is perfect...the last bite has burger and bun. They don't offer a huge selection-- basics: 1/3 or 1/2 pound? onions? grilled or raw? That's it. And it takes about one full beer before your burger arrives. 2 beers, a burger and fries will set you back about $10.

          1. My favorite burger is Hodad's.

            I didn't have a burget at Tioli's, I had the bratwurst. Not sure I'd order a burger there, given how good the brat was.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Josh

              We used to live in OB and could walk to Hodad's but preferred the bike ride or drive over the bridge to Rocky's. Hodad's is definitely better than most though. Have had some dry/overdone burgers there though and never once at Rocky's-- grill versus griddle I guess. Also, I HATE the shredded lettuce they serve on their burgers. Still, it's a lot better than most 'best' burger joints here in town.

            2. Ok, I haven't yet tried Crazy Burger. But I can tell you the absolute best burger in town is is actually a bit out of town, in Oceanside. It's the Rooster burger at the Red Rooster.Charbroiled before your eyes right there behind the bar. Cheese onions and the Californa chiles make this burger!The Red Rooster is a dive bar off of Oceansidde Blvd. If you can get past the scary dumpy look of this place both inside and out give it a try. and their fries are great too. They serve their burgers with the condiment tray with ketchup, mustard, mayo, relish peppers.

              they have a pool table and the staff and owner are pretty cool.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Moon Doggie

                There are an awful lot of great burgers in San Diego. Too many for me to believe that "the best" can even be ascertained.

                My favorites can be found at Cafe 910, The Linkery, Hodad's, O'Brien's, Liars' Club, and Phil's BBQ. Top honors would have to go to 910, Linkery, and Phil's because they grind their own meat, which means I can get my burger medium rare like it should be.

                1. re: Josh

                  You can get a burger done medium rare at Fuddruckers (if its 1/2 lb or larger) and at Boll Weevil if you ask....

                  1. re: Cathy

                    Fudds only does medium rare in the 1/3 lb. size. Anything larger and it's medium only. (I work across the street from one, and occasionally indulge my burger cravings there)

                    Fudds makes a decent burger for a chain place, but they can't hold a candle to any in my top three. The Cafe Nine-Ten burger might be the most perfect in existence - medium rare on a soft brioche roll, mmmm.

                    1. re: Josh

                      Not the Fudds at Grossmont or in Chula. I only get a 2/3 lb...and only med rare.

                      (I only go to those 2 Fudds becasue they have the fresh rolls there; Mission Valley does not make them in store)

                      oh, but brioche!

                      1. re: Josh

                        Weird - I go to the one in Chula as well, and I've been told by counter people that they'll only do med-rare on the 1/3 lb.

                  2. re: Moon Doggie

                    It's nice to know that the Rooster burger is still alive and well. The place changed owners a while ago. I'll be there very soon to get my 'fix'

                  3. Kensington Grill also does a very good hand-made burger (with home-made ketchup). And I just had an excellent burger at Hodads - it was my first time there.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Alice Q

                      Agreed re: Kensington Grill's burger. It's one of the original menu items that has remained to this day, and one of my top three in San Diego. Another to try is the now-ubiquitous Kobe burger on the menu at Just Fabulous, right down the street in Kensington.

                    2. I went to Tioli's back in late May and I thought it was quite good. They have a fun varied menu. I had the Ostrich burger when I went. I was with two vegetarians, and they both had very positive things to say about the veggie and portabello burgers, too.
                      Another great burger is the Butter Burger at the Crest Cafe. You probably shouldn't get that one too often since its a calorie bomb-- they put butter at the center of the patty and it is absolutely delicious.

                      1. Tioli's offers a great variety of worldley burgers. I also enjoy my burgers cooked the classic way grilled not on the griddle, let the fat drip please!

                        1. Just returned from Tioli's Crazy Burger in San Diego (vicinity of El Cajon and 30th) with the wife and kid after reading the reviews here. We enjoyed a Ciao Bello, Santorini, and Portobello Mushroom burger with fries and a Spaten light and Firestone Double Barrel draft beer. The meal was delicious and enjoyed by all. Love the grilled bun/burger/topping features. Sampled my wifes Portobello burger and agreed it is a real treat for you vegans and meateaters alike. Fries were just as I like them, crispy, seasoned and plenty of them. And, you can't say enough about the beer selections, a perfect refreshment for the meal. Conversation with the owner and story swapping was the icing on the cake for my pleasant experience in this little place. Will definitely be trying again to work my way down the menu list.

                          1. I eat out every meal. Crazy Burger is on my list of regular restraunts. The business meets that fine line between quality and price. I always get the Aloha Burger (Substitute) Chicken. You won't be sorry! I'm also a huge fan of ice tea, and they make good tea. I recommend Crazy Burger to my friends and family.