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Jul 16, 2006 08:08 PM

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.

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  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.