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Best Burger in Bay Area?

Last night I ate a burger from Miss Pearl's Phat Burger in Mill Valley and it was very good, but I still think the Zuni Burger is the best in the Bay Area. Any thoughts?

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    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      This is a pretty out-of-date topic that got bumped, doesn't include Namu or Mua.


      439 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

      2442A Webster Street, Oakland, CA 94612

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        I booted Mua from my best burger list after eating the one at Chop Bar (4th and Alice in Oakland). That's my current number one.

        Default toppings include excellent bacon and avocado.

        2442A Webster Street, Oakland, CA 94612

        Chop Bar
        247 4th St, #111, Oakland, CA 94607

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Namu reopens as Namu Gaji on March 31, 2012.
          Namu Gaji - 3579 Dolores St. at the corner of 18th Street - San Francisco

      2. No question about it, Val's in Hayward. Put's all others to shame.

        5 Replies
            1. re: dfresh

              just a very good basic burger, nothing fancy.

              the fries and shakes are very good also

          1. re: LarryW

            I investigated Val's today.

            A fun place and a good burger. I got the 1/2-pound. There's also a 1-pounder. I got mine with bacon. The bacon is something to see. Two inch-wide pieces almost a foot long and an eighth of an inch thick.

            It wasn't quite as pink as I would've liked. My preference is an old-school medium. I think in the post-E. coli world it's time for me to start ordering medium rare if I want to see more than dime's edge worth of pink in my burger.

            But overall it was good. Best in the Bay Area, though? Not even close in my opinion.

            Also, if you go, skip the fries. Pretty mealy. If I'm down that way again I'll try the onion rings.

            Anybody try a malt here? They looked good.


            1. re: Gerard

              Val's is great. Went there today. I got a shake and onion rings for the first time and they were awesome. I don't care for the steak fries at all.

          2. Zuni's burger is great, but if you're not stuck on the round bun-gray meat formula, Balboa Cafe's burger, served rare with Dijon on a Baguette is the best in my book.

            You can get a round bun from them too, and I suppose you can get them to cook it if you really need that ;-)

            1. It's Luka's Taproom all the way. Nothing fancy, just a good bun, fabulous meat (well-seasoned) and either raw or sauteed onions. Comes with their delicious french fries.

              Zuni's is also tops, but I like Luka's better.

              Garibaldi's also has a very good burger (and not much else according to some).

              9 Replies
              1. re: oakjoan

                Luka's burger is great.

                So is Oola's, though given some recent reports I wonder about their consistency, especially on the chef's nights off. Never had anything but spot-on food and service there myself.

                1. re: oakjoan

                  I second the Luka's recommendation. But, as Hercule Poirot would insist, "They're delicious Belgian fries! Not French -- Belgian!" I probably like Zuni's burger better, but Luka's Belgian fries blow away Zuni's shoestrings.

                  1. re: RodW

                    No, Lukas burgers are frozen and you can taste it when you order a rare or medium rare burger. This is not the place for "meat" connoisseurs. I prefer beef ground daily, like at Val's and 900 Grayson.

                    1. re: nicolb

                      Luka's burgers are NEVER frozen. This is a Belgian-influenced restaurant and not French!. They have one of the top burgers on the left coast, bar none. It's simply brilliant!

                      1. re: rdrhoda7

                        I had a burger at Luka a couple of weeks ago and it was fine but not as good as I've had there in the past.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Luka's burgers are frozen. One of the workers told me so!

                        2. re: rdrhoda7

                          I think Luka's burgers are ok; and True Burger is all hype.

                          lately, I've been enjoying the pimiento cheeseburger at Pican.

                          Pican Restaurant
                          2295 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

                          1. re: rdrhoda7

                            Lukas burger are pre frozen and the food is below average. Fries are definitely not Belgian style.

                      2. re: oakjoan

                        I too agree on Luka's in the East Bay Ten Dollar+ burger category. There is the Five Dollar category, Trueburger not to shabby therein, and there is the 7.95 er level place as well.

                      3. For me, Joe's Cable Car out on Mission near Silver in the Excelsior district of SF. Joe grinds his own meat daily, and the place is kind of surreal. It reminds me of home-cooked food.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: Pavement2112

                          Some doubts about Joe's CC's current quality-price ratio in this topic:


                          Somewhat similar kind of place but maybe better, Original Joe's.


                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Joe's is way pricey - I totally agree. Still, I figure that I'm supporting a truly local business serving excellent food and retaining some history. I like the fact that people who eat there seem to be living around there. I'll pay a few extra bucks to get a good burger for that....

                            1. re: Pavement2112

                              And it seems like the patty has shrunken considerably. Maybe Joe is grinding a little more fat daily.

                              1. re: Pavement2112

                                I agree with this statement after my sticker shock at Joe's; three burgers, one large fries/rings combo, two shakes $80?? It was tasty, and no complaints about quality but Hodads in San Diego does an equally fantastic job for a third of the price!

                              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Wow, those prices have gone way up. Robert, does Original Joe's grind their own meat like Joe's CC?

                                1. re: a_and_w

                                  All Original Joe's meat is still house-butchered so far as I know.

                              3. re: Pavement2112

                                I would definitely go to Joe's Cable Car more often if their prices were a little more reasonable. Good burgers, completely mediocre fries and rings. Best chocolate shake I've had in SF, though.

                                I really like Big Mouth Burgers on 24th near Valencia and Burgermeister.

                              4. Haven't made it to all these places people have listed yet (but I'm working on it!)

                                I loved the burger at Rosamunde (only Tuesdays at lunch). A nice lunchtime treat - order a burger from Rosamunde, and go have a pint at Toronado next door while you wait.

                                They open at 11:30, usually a line of people already waiting . . . 200 burgers for the day, they'll run out within a couple hours. If only they had them every day . . . probably better for me that they don't, haha . . .

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: nsheth

                                  omigod, totally agree on Rosamunde. Plus, the onion-y bun is tops. Huge, though, can eat half and be full.

                                2. I've been here quite a few times and have had consistently good burgers both beef and turkey: Barney's Gourmet Hamburgers
                                  4162 Piedmont Ave
                                  Oakland, CA 94611-5110
                                  (510) 655-7180

                                  6 Replies
                                    1. re: FueledByGnocchi

                                      I've only been to the Barney's on Solano Ave. in Berkeley. I found that no matter how your burger cooked it will be cooked well-done. This is not the burger I'm looking for.

                                      1. re: Curmudgeon

                                        I've been to the Barney's on Shattuck (at Cedar) in Berkeley many times and I haven't had that problem. They always cook mine perfectly medium rare, my spec (that's pink but not bloody, I guess the rarest end of the spectrum that their policy will allow). I love the Baja Burger, even if it is unwieldy and filling enough for three meals.

                                        1. re: Kitchen Imp

                                          I've had the same experience at the one on Piedmont. Never a problem for medium rare.

                                        2. re: Curmudgeon

                                          I don't know what you've asked them, but I've never seen a well-done burger at Barney's. I've eaten at the piedmont, college st, solano, and cedar st locations dozens and dozens of times.

                                          In fact, I find they tend toward the rare. I order a medium rare to get what I call rare. And, now being on the peninsula, I miss them. Quick service, reasonable cost, filling, good meat, although I wouldn't call them award winning.

                                          1. re: bbulkow

                                            Well I did get an over-cooked burger about a month ago on Shattuck/Cedar. I sent it back and they sent out another one no problem...slightly undercooked as you mention. It's a hassle but if they'll replace it what can you say? Otherwise, overall the place always works for me, quick, reasonable, solid.

                                      2. I like Joe's CC but it does get pricey when you add everything up...and you do think twice sometimes.

                                        A second on Barney's in the East Bay.

                                        I also like Bob's on Clement/24th Ave. good fresh burger many variations (toppings), fresh cut fries.

                                        Been to Kirk's in Palo Alto a few times and thought they were very good.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: ML8000

                                          Did you mean Bill's on Clement? I like their burgers, shakes and rings/fries. I always smell like I've been to a BBQ after eating there but that's part of the experience.

                                          I'm looking forward to trying some of the other places people have listed.

                                          1. re: CalBear92

                                            Yes, Bill's. My bad. I moved away from the Richmond 3 years ago and my memory is as foggy as June at Clement and 24th.

                                          2. re: ML8000

                                            Here's a link to my old post on Bill's with a photo, if you'd like a walk down memory lane.

                                          3. I tried Boca's burger recently...excellent! I assume that a top steak place will use its scraps for hamburger, and it was really good.

                                            1. Cafe rouge ,4th st ,Berzerkley makes a tasty burger.

                                              I love their little dry age beef locker in the butcher shop.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Mission

                                                I took my FIL to Rouge last week to try their burger. He is constantly complaining about how he can never get a rare burger in LA. As always, the burger arrived nice and bloody, and he loved it.

                                              2. In the E. Bay I like Girabaldi's and Zax Tavern. Cafe Rouge, Zuni and Luka's are next on my list!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: oaklandfoodie

                                                  Girabaldi's is great!! I need to try Zuni and cafe Rouge. You can have Luka's...although I will eat the oysters.

                                                2. well, i've yet to have a burger from zuni, but i have always very much loved the burgers at zeitgeist. and foreign cinema's was surprisingly delicous. apparently they grind their own chuck there as well.

                                                  1. my short list:

                                                    the chieftain cheeseburger with all the fixings @ the chieftain pub - sf

                                                    house burger @ darla's - sf

                                                    blue cheese bacon burger @ st. john's grille - sunnyvale

                                                    honorable mentions:

                                                    barney's - east bay
                                                    flipper's - montclair village - nothing special, looks like something i can put together at home if i wanted to put forth the effort, however their steak cut fries are GOOD.
                                                    in and out - everywhere.

                                                    8 Replies
                                                    1. re: wchane

                                                      Darla's gets high marks too for value with table service. Here's an old post with a picture.

                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                        Oh, I miss Darla's. That place was one of my old haunts. I loved the free brownie. Also, I used to love to sit out on the patio/deck in back and read. I think there was one evening (Mondays perhaps?) that they offered a free glass of wine with a meal. Kid friendly, too.


                                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                          Darla's also comes to mind for a good solid burger. The other items on the menu look good too, but I always get the burger.

                                                            1. re: plainjane

                                                              Just had a Darla's burger for the first time last week. Really flavorful and properly cooked to order. The chocolate shake is very good. My companion had fries, I had green salad. I'm not a fries fanatic, but they tasted okay.

                                                            2. re: Melanie Wong

                                                              Darla on Irving to me is too dirty, I have eaten there twice and just felt like really grossed out.

                                                              1. re: Lori SF

                                                                Ahh, I would agree, the burger was underwhelming and the place just seemed a bit unsanitary.

                                                                1. re: poulet_roti

                                                                  Dogpile! I don't get those who rave about Darla's on CH. We went once and the burger was overcooked and flavorless.

                                                          1. I've said it before, but our vote goes to Bistro Burger. Lunch only, Niman Ranch beef, several FiDi locations.

                                                            Val's in Hayward is pretty good too. Someone mentioned Bob's on Clement at 24th-- assume they meant Bill's Place. Consistently good over the years, despite changes in ownership.

                                                            We tried the Barney's on College Ave some time ago. and thought it was terrible.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Steve Green

                                                              when dowtown Bistro Burger is a great spot for a burger

                                                            2. Gregoire, all the way. The beef patty with blue cheese and walnuts, seared rare on a challah bun. Perfect bun consistency, perfect topping ratios, perfect meat. It's quite surprising how well the walnuts work. I've never had a more satisfying burger, anywhere. Sadly, it is only available on their monthly changing menu about two times a year. I usually post an announcement whenever it's around.
                                                              The roast beef is back on September's menu. It's made in house, is usually nicely rare and is one of the best roast beef sandwiches I've had anywhere (though I have yet to try this particular rendition).

                                                              I'd rank Zuni and Cafe Rouge as tied for second.

                                                              Barney's explicitly states on their menu that they do not serve rare burgers. IMO, that automatically disqualifies a place. Of course, I like my burger barely warm, like a good seared ahi, and that grosses out a lot of people.


                                                              1. in east bay, TASTE is my top choice, perfect niman ranch beef+shoestring fries. yummy!

                                                                1. Luka's is the best I've had.


                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Gerard

                                                                    Really? You should try 900 Grayson.

                                                                  2. I really like the burgers at the Lakeside Cafe on Ocean Ave. I like both the All-American Burger or the Southwestern Burger. There are lots more choices and all are cooked to order. Medium rare MEANS medium rare there -- not raw, not shoe leather, just right. The fries are very good, too.

                                                                    Here's a link to their menu and other info:


                                                                    1. Gotta give some love to Memphis Minnie's half-pound burger -

                                                                      But once again, Sonoma County takes the prize. I love sitting at Zin's counter in Healdsburg for a burger and fries . . . housebaked bun, homemade pickles, fresh ground beef, great fries -

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                        Forgot to mention that Zin only offers the burger at lunch time. Another good one in town that gets little play the cheeseburger from Western Boot Steakhouse. It's lunch only too, but if you ask nicely, the kitchen isn't that busy, and some ground meat is leftover from lunch, you might be able to get one at dinner time.

                                                                      2. My new favorite burger is at 900 Grayson in Berkeley. I love the crispy shoestring onions and the touch of homemade barbecue sauce on the bun. Here's a link to an earlier report on this burger by rworange:


                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                            All I can say is "hell yeah!" I've had what other's call the best, but I have to give it to them.

                                                                        1. It's been many years, and the advice may be out of date, but I've had my best SF burger at One Market. House made pickles, perfectly cooked, lovely. Recently, I've had wonderful bacon-cheese burgers at Taylor's in the Ferry Building. The trick is the ratio and the bun: perfect amount of cheese, bacon, sauce.... It's just the right burger experience. Hawthorne Lane also does a surprisingly good job at lunch.

                                                                          I must admit that I'm not an epiphahy-seeking burger eater. I like an excellent standard. For example, I also like BurgerMeister in North Beach.

                                                                          1. Wow, this thread certainly touched on a lot of Hounds' personal favorites. While on the fancy side, I certainly concur with Cafe Rouge which has long been a favorite of mine, as well as Oola's. I will also say that Rick and Ann's Niman Ranch burger has always been outstanding. However, there is something to be said for the traditional hamburger stand versions. You know, those places that have "Burger" in the name of the joint? ;)

                                                                            Well as to two of my longtime favorites, I've always loved going to George's Giant Hamburgers in Walnut Creek since I was a kid. George himself still grinds the meat each day. Seventies wood panneled interior never changes, but neither does the quality or the size of this superlative burger. As a bonus, my father used to chat up George, who is also Cantonese, and we'd score some generous amounts of fatty brisket to use in the ole clay pot braise.

                                                                            The other burger stand classic that I've hit up for nearly 20 years is Phyllis' Hamburgers in San Rafael (there's also a newer location in Novato) which offers a wider variety of meats, including Buffalo which is very tasty served on the bloody side, but the basic burger is still my favorite.

                                                                            Honorable mention goes to the old "Hamburgers" joint on Bridgeway in Sausalito. It's been there for ages, certainly since before I was a child strolling by with my grandmother after a ferry ride over from the city. The burgers are big and thick and cooked on a spinning grill right in the window. Well, the price has gone up, but other than that, the place is just about the same. It's just a very good, honest burger that get huge sentimental points. The green awning just says "Hamburgers" but you'll smell it and spot the line before you get there.

                                                                            a sante,

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Curtis

                                                                              Ah, the mysterious "Hamburgers" joint in Sausalito! Still haven't tried it since hearing about it 5 years ago. Here's the old thread -

                                                                            2. The best burger I've had was at Townhall.

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: lucymom

                                                                                Sorry to arrive late at the discussion, but I just noticed this thread.

                                                                                Could someone please educate this poor hayseed (from Sacramento) as to what 'Townhall' is?


                                                                                1. My vote is for DArla's

                                                                                  1. I don't know, I have a hard time mixing tablecloths and burgers, so while the burgers at Zuni and Cafe Rouge are probably objectively better, I just can't enjoy them that much. I love the bacon cheeseburger at Burgermeister, which they will cook rare, especially at the Cole Valley location--it just feels like a burger place, and you can add some enormous onion rings and a big gloopy milkshake and be done with all your calories for the week.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Hungry Hippo

                                                                                      Here's another vote for Burgermeister when you're craving a classic American-style burger that's grilled, not griddled.

                                                                                      There's definitely a place in my heart for Zuni's burger, but it isn't always what I crave.

                                                                                    2. One vote for Street on Polk. I think they also grind their own meat and only sell limited quantities. The only times I've been were right after work (arriving at 6 when they open the kitchen) and they've sold out of burgers each time I've been there. As a twenty-something lady, Street is a nice place to eat at the bar and have a burger alone, relatively unmolested by the pick-up scene at many of the bars and restaurants in that strip.

                                                                                      1. I can't believe no one's yet mentioned Bonne Sante in Burlingame. The best burgers I have ever had come from there.

                                                                                        Best Burgers at Bonne Sante on Broadway in Burlingame: Bountiful Bovine at a Bargain

                                                                                        I think The Counter which just opened in Palo Alto is second with perfectly cooked burgers (medium but on the pinker side).

                                                                                        1. zuni's, bullshead (west portal), and moe's(green in no. beach), all in sf.

                                                                                          1. Mo's in North Beach. No question. Absolute perfection. And cheap as hell.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: MuppetGrrl

                                                                                              That's the place with the funny rotating grill?

                                                                                            2. I personally like Mike's at the Yard, but I've been told that it closed due to health department stuff. Mike's at the Crossroads is still my favorite burger in the Bay Area!

                                                                                              1. Al's Burger on San Pablo is pretty good in my opinion. and cheap.

                                                                                                1. yes... a vote for Al's Big Burger in Albany. How about the Red Onion is EC or Oscar's in Berkeley also!

                                                                                                  1. I haven't seen any posts for Magnolia on Haight St. Great, consistent, and not nouveau riche (Zuni). You are also exposed to solid service and a good pint.

                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: rcortevi

                                                                                                      I vote for the burger with gorgonzola at Magnolia on Haight, as well as the Zuni burger.

                                                                                                      I actually think Burgermeister burgers are really gross.

                                                                                                      1. re: celeste

                                                                                                        Why do you think Burgermeister burgers are gross? They're made with organic Niman Ranch beef. I think they taste pretty great.

                                                                                                          1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                                                            That's correct, though not necessarily objectionable, as discussed here:


                                                                                                            1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                                                              So I guess they are mistaken on their website? (They certainly are wrong about Niman Ranch's "location.") However, Niman Ranch burger is good, no?

                                                                                                              "While most 'burger joints' offer a variety of burgers and menu selections, Paul Mogannam and his family at Burgermeister are proud to serve beef which is not tainted by chemicals and filler...this San Francisco family owned/operated business uses only the finest quality organic beef in the Bay area provided by the famous Niman Ranch located in Marin County in Northern California."

                                                                                                            2. re: Atomica

                                                                                                              I think it must be the way they grind and mix the meat. I find the texture really off-putting. Also, I think the meat is pretty flavorless.

                                                                                                        1. What, nobody has given the obligatory raves for Bridgeway Burgers on the main drag in Sausalito??? My out-and-out favorite. Worth a ride across the Bay on the ferry just to stand in line and get a piece of heaven on a bun.

                                                                                                          When staying in the city, I like Original Joe's, but I am referring to their "hamburger steak", which is not a real hamburger and is priced like a steak. Still, it's an example of what ground beef can be, given an opportunity.

                                                                                                          1. My vote is for Westlake Joe's in Daly City. They grind the meat themselves and it is charcoal grilled over "real" charcoal. They smash finely minced onions into one side that adds a lot of flavor, served on a hollowed out chunk of sourdough with large steak fries. I order mine medium rare...

                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: reg

                                                                                                              Went to Westlake Joe's last week, purely for ambiance (where else can you find Googie style cofee house architecture with steak and cocktail lounge in Northern California?!) though I have to say it was one of the worst meals I've ever had. We sent back two ribsteaks which were inedible. I ordered the hamburger steak after returning my ribeye hoping that it would fare better but it still came back way overcooked and flavorless. It's not even comparable to Original Joe's. I love the space itself and will return for a drink (although even the manhattan I ordered tasted like the bartender spilled the vermouth!) but the food is absolutely horrendous. We didn't go with lofty expectations but were all sorely disappointed. Service was even worse, which is saying a lot. It's too bad because it could be a great place if they made some changes in the kitchen!

                                                                                                              1. re: OliverB

                                                                                                                The only thing I actually like to eat there is the filet of sole. A friend likes the fresh halibut.

                                                                                                                Wonder how many years it will take for it to become a bustling Chinese restaurant.....

                                                                                                                1. re: walker

                                                                                                                  My guess is some hipsters get the spot.

                                                                                                                  1. re: ML8000

                                                                                                                    Joe's of Westlake sold to Duggan family of Original Joe's - slated for 2015 opening


                                                                                                            2. Its all about Marin in Joe's in Marin right off 101 before the paradise drive exit. the massive burger on a french roll with dijon and grilled onions is unbeatable! Pearl's, Bill's, and joes cc are greasy and good but this is on another level. about 8 bucks

                                                                                                              1. I can't believe that Meal Ticket hasn't been mentioned. They have the best burger by far. The best!

                                                                                                                1. On this side of town, tie between Mo's and Clown Alley in the big-ass tasty burger category.

                                                                                                                  However, let's be real: many of us downtown workers dream about getting on the F car and riding down to In-N-Out for a double double animal style....because no matter how fancy schmancy, organic, "we know the rancher personally", you get, a hamburger's roots is in the fast food world and some of the best ones are still found there.

                                                                                                                  1. I haven't been to most of these places. But on a recent trip to Amoeba's I made it to BurgerMeister in Cole Valley and was very impressed. This is the first burger I've had in the San Francisco area that comes close - perhaps even surpasses - the great burgers of my Detroit youth (especially those at Miller's Bar). It had a great grill plus beef taste, was cooked perfectly to order, and accompanied by very nice fries. Others may be just as good, but BurgerMeister is one great burger.


                                                                                                                    1. East Bay and Peninsula are my stomping grounds. Has anyone tried the Claim Jumper(in Concord)? The widowmaker burger is awesome. Val's, Ricky's and Ernie's (all in Hayward) rank up there as well as Francesco's in Oakland.

                                                                                                                      Peninsula favorites are the Canyon Inn (Redwood City) Dutch Goose & Oasis (Menlo Park)and Kirk's (Palo Alto).

                                                                                                                      1. Hi,
                                                                                                                        Couple weeks back, late evening, I had a burger at Fog City Diner that I thought beat the Zuni burger my friend had a week later at lunch--sorry! Both burgers were without cheese, with no extravagant addition. Maybe it was a mood/setting thing--we were starving the night we went to Fog City. Have to say however, that the first time (lunch)at Zuni was a great experience service-wise, and the grilled pork chop/loin-i never get that right, was one of the best I've ever had. ciao

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: FueledByGnocchi

                                                                                                                          I would expect Fog City Diner to have a superior bun. It's part of the Real Restaurants group, and the company's bakery, Pan-O-Rama, makes first-rate stuff.

                                                                                                                        2. Barney's is a very average hamburger served on a below average bun. It is reminiscent of those large Costco burgers and buns that I have not had in 15 years or more. On the other hand, I think the best burger in San Francisco can be had at Absinthe. Cooked medium rare with a bit of thyme mixed into the meat, served on a bun of properly firm while still maintaining a light airniness that is necessary for a burger.

                                                                                                                          1. A word of high praise for the burger at Seven, a very solid bistro on the Alameda in downtown San Jose.

                                                                                                                            1. i'm suprised not to see any of my personal faves here...burger joint on valencia has deelish niman ranch burgers. taylor's refresher burgers down at the ferry building are on the yummiest buns and i'd never say no to a burger from slow club with their perfect fries. all of these places use hormone-free meat. okay, wishing i could have a cheese burger right now!

                                                                                                                              1. try The Bullshead in West Portal....little local restaurant that's been there for years and years. Delish hamburgers-to eat- in or to-go.

                                                                                                                                1. I am thrilled to see George's Giant Hamburgers mentioned. I kept reading reading reading and didn't think it would get a mention. I heart this burger....so....much. The bun is toasty, my medium burger is always safely cooked yet juicy, the cheese is divine and the grilled onions are perfect. This is a real burger, no fancy here. No need for fancy, no want for fancy. Lovely. Delicious.

                                                                                                                                  1. Original Joe's in San Francisco's Tenderloin: 12 ounces of ground round on a French loaf, or get it with eggs and spuds and teach your arteries who's boss!

                                                                                                                                    1. My vote goes to Kinder's - especially the one in Concord (Arnold Industrial Parkway (just north of Highway 4), west of Port Chicago Highway) during the warmer months, when they break out the outdoor BBQ for lunch. The only problems: it's not always easy to park, and the lines can be long (you pay inside, along with the deli customers) around noon.

                                                                                                                                      1. I don't care how good it is, there are so many better things than burgers to eat at Zuni I will never order one.

                                                                                                                                        Burgermeister never fails to satisfy: Good juicy patty grilled the way you like it. The taste of real beef and fire. Simple high quality fixins', good fries, and a good beers on tap. All for a damn good price and in my 'hood. Da winner!!

                                                                                                                                        1. Slow Club, San Francisco.
                                                                                                                                          Alices Restaurant, Woodside.
                                                                                                                                          Townhouse, Emeryville - Great shoestring fries.
                                                                                                                                          Paragon Restaurant, Oakland.
                                                                                                                                          Barney's - any location.

                                                                                                                                          Road Food:
                                                                                                                                          Fosters Freeze- The onion ring cheese burger.
                                                                                                                                          In-n-Out - Basic Cheese, great fries.


                                                                                                                                          1. No one has mentioned my favorite, that is my "burger joint" favorite, not a real restaurant. It's Phyllis' Giant Burgers, 2202 4th Street, San Rafael (out toward San Anselmo). Their 1/2 pound burger comes with grilled onions if you ask (they won't ask you) and dripping juice. It's around $4.50, $5.50 with cheese (properly melted). They cook it the way you want. If it's nice day, there's a small patio outside. If not, you're shoehorned into a seat inside with the TV constantly on, sound and all. I get way more burger satisfaction here than from Mike's (now only in Cotati), not sure why. The regular cook seems to do a better job than his off-day counterpart.

                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Mick Ruthven

                                                                                                                                              Actually, I did mention the San Raf location in my original reply, but it certainly deserves a second nod. I've not tried the new location in Novato though so hopefully someone chimes in with some reviews. I was just at Phyllis' last week and it is still great, as was the excellent Mocha shake!

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Curtis

                                                                                                                                                I've been to the Novato Phyllis' once. It's large and has a good condiment bar and the burgers are large, etc. But for some reason I just didn't get the same great "burger experience" as at the San Rafael place. For me it's the same with Phat Burger in Mill Valley and Mike's in Cotati. Quite good and large burgers cooked the way you want, but somehow missing that great burger experience I get at Phyllis' in SR. I'd be interested if others feel the same way but actually know the reason, and also if they don't feel that Phyllis'/SR burgers are better than the others.

                                                                                                                                            2. I've had several very fine burgers at Arlequin on Hayes. This is the little offshoot of Absinthe. They will cook the burger a perfect juicy medium or medium rare to order, it comes on a delicious rosemary bun, and the shoestring fries are excellent. I think of it as my "secret" SF burger.

                                                                                                                                              As a reference point, I too love the burgers at Cafe Rouge, Zuni and Burger Joint. Also, the now-defunct place at the Mission Bay Golf Center driving range served, IMO, a textbook burger.

                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. re: mrs bacon

                                                                                                                                                This would make sense as I believe the best burger is at Absinthe. Is the burger at Arlequin the same as the burger at Absinthe? I might have to go tomorrow...

                                                                                                                                              2. I have had Zuni's and Townhall and a few others mentioned. I think Slow Club in SF makes a great burger and Rockridge Cafe in Oakland are my favorites.

                                                                                                                                                1. Taylors at the Ferry Building, anyone? Sweet potato fries, shakes, burgers on egg buns?!

                                                                                                                                                  Nothing I've had here (yet) is as good as Father's Office in Santa Monica, but I'm holding out for Cafe Rouge or Zuni.

                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mindy02

                                                                                                                                                    Father's Office makes burgers? wow use to go there when you could order food from next door and sit at the bar..

                                                                                                                                                  2. San Rafael Joes -
                                                                                                                                                    Big, juicy patty - cooked like you want it - sourdough roll or whatever you want.
                                                                                                                                                    Open till:
                                                                                                                                                    10pm, Sunday-Monday
                                                                                                                                                    11pm Tues-Thurs
                                                                                                                                                    12 midnight Fri-Sat
                                                                                                                                                    and if you make it 10 minutes before closing? We get served in about 5 minutes and I've never gotten a rushed feeling if we're done 15 - 20 minutes after closing time.
                                                                                                                                                    Fries are great, big but not usually mealy.
                                                                                                                                                    Joe's is one of the places that will cook meat like you like it. If you want it "charred / rare". you got it.
                                                                                                                                                    Full bar and plenty of seating - great service. Some of the service has been there for years. The "house" wines are respectable.
                                                                                                                                                    Recently remodeled. Weekend Live music (semi acustic Tommy Rox, for example) at the far end of the building, so you can hear and still have a conversation over your meal.
                                                                                                                                                    Just walk up to the kitchen end if the bar at tell then you are here and you are on your way.

                                                                                                                                                    1. Mike's at the Crossroads in Cotati is by far the best burger around. They use Harris Ranch meat, and they are huge, and delicious.

                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: gauchogirl

                                                                                                                                                        I agree...Mike's is the best. Lousy potato salad, but you can always get chips. I just wish it weren't so far out of the way.

                                                                                                                                                      2. I've been enjoying the burger at Couleur Cafe, at 16th and DeHaro in San Francisco for the past year or so. Always served as I order it--medium rare, very juicy, thick patty, on a tasty role that stands up to the juice. The meat has some herbs mixed in (not sure what, but I love it--certainly some parsley), and I always order it with gruyere and bacon. The bacon is thick cut and delicious too. The roll usually has a swipe of aioli on it as well, though I sometimes ask for some extra for their yummola fries.

                                                                                                                                                        The Cafe is part of the Chez Maman, Chez Papa empire, and the burger is the same one I had in the past at Chez Maman on 18th St. in Potrero Hill. The one warning--the service is uneven. I have one waiter who I enjoy, and a few others that really manage things badly when it gets busy there. I like it most when I go at an off time. Occassionally I take a very late lunch, and 2pm or so is probably about the best time to be there.

                                                                                                                                                        I certainly love the Zuni burger, though I've never really enjoyed the way that the bread can sort of overwhelm things. My one experience with the Slow Club burger was fine but not rave worthy. I like the 900 Grayson burger in Berkeley, and the Luka burger in Oakland, but the Couleur Cafe one wins the race for me.

                                                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jillyju

                                                                                                                                                          I had a burger at Couleur Cafe in the past couple of weeks and would concur that it is an excellent burger. I believe they fold some thyme into the meat which is an excellent touch. Also agree that the bun, lightly toasted, is a good conduit for the burger rather than a traditional eggy bun that can be found at many places. "Uneven" is a good way to describe the service. I would not advise going if you are short on time.

                                                                                                                                                          I still think that Absinthe has one of the best high end burgers in The City.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: poulet_roti

                                                                                                                                                            Knowing that you are a Couleur Cafe burger fan makes me want to leave my house and go to Absinthe for the burger right this minute! I predict I'll make it there within the week, based on that recommendation. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jillyju

                                                                                                                                                              Make sure to get the fries as well. Frankly, I think they are the best fries in town. Frites at Couleur Cafe were excellent as well, albeit a bit heavy on the salt. Let us know your thoughts of an Absinthe burger - I have a feeling I may be going soon as well.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: poulet_roti

                                                                                                                                                                I had a medium rare burger with Gruyere today at Absinthe, (along with some very good fries), and I can now join you in being a fan. Although I think I still have a slight preference for the Couleur Cafe burger, due to the herbs, this was superb. The bread was delicious--it really held up to the juices, without being too bready. The meat wasn't too dense and was perfectly cooked. Absinthe isn't the most convenient place for me to get to, but I think the flavor has been firmly lodged in the burger part of my brain, located in the center of the gray matter.

                                                                                                                                                                I also really liked their Arnold Palmer, as the lemonade had a bit of a fizz. And I will agree with the recommendation on the fries. This whole meal hit the spot, especially just 3 days before the end most grueling semester I've had thus far in graduate school.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jillyju

                                                                                                                                                                  Great to hear you enjoyed the burger at Absinthe. It does make sense as there are similarities to the Couleur Cafe burger. I believe they use thyme in their burger at Absinthe.

                                                                                                                                                                  Interestingly, went to Big Mouth Burgers the other day and was very pleasantly surprised. By comparison, the Big Mouth Burger is more of a burger joint type of burger as opposed to Absinthe or Couleur Cafe burger. Nice thing about Big Mouth is that they shape their burger to be fairly flat and wide so that it fits nicely on the bun. as opposed to be fat and smallish.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: poulet_roti

                                                                                                                                                              Gosh, I wonder what was going on when I got the burger at Absinthe. I thought it was actually somewhat disgusting. It was the greasiest burger I ever remember eating, and just beyond bland. I think it was on some sort of absurd and inappropriate bread, like focaccia. I was so disappointed that I kind have never wanted to go there again for any reason.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: fistalee

                                                                                                                                                                Interesting observation. I've had more than half a dozen burgers at Absinthe and never had that reaction. I have known some of the other dishes to be inconsistent, but the burgers have always been consistently solid, never greasy, well flavored on an excellent bun that was not focaccia. Perhaps things have changed.

                                                                                                                                                          2. After reading about the burger at 900 Grayson here, I stopped by for lunch a couple of weeks ago and was stunned by the crowds. The place was jammed! I managed to snag a seat at the small counter and noted that the burger includes white cheddar, French fried onion rings, barbecue sauce, and "twice smoked" bacon.

                                                                                                                                                            Thinking the bacon amounted to overkill on the fat scale, I ordered my burger without the bacon. Then I opened up the New York Times and started reading a remembrance of the legendary Times reporter Johnny Apple and his famous appetite. I snagged the waiter as he passed by and said, "Hey, what the hell. Throw the bacon on too." He did, and I enjoyed the hell out of a sinfully delicious burger that I won't soon forget.

                                                                                                                                                            I absolutely love hamburgers, but try to keep my consumption of them within limits. If I use up one of my "hamburger chits" on a bad burger, I am not a happy camper. This was a glorious use of a hamburger chit.

                                                                                                                                                            1. My vote is for Bill's on Clement Street. Fresh ground beef, fresh cut potato fries, and Mitchell's ice cream sundaes and shakes! mmmmm... Plus don't forget their unforgettable staff, kitchsy decor, and collection of White House Wedgewood!

                                                                                                                                                              1. I know it probably isn't the best burger in SF, but Barney's in the Marina is 5 blocks from my home and that is my go-to burger. They always serve it medium-rare when I ask. I like the western burger.

                                                                                                                                                                1. My experience at Barney's has always reminded me of a burger that I may have gotten at an amusement park as a child - not to mention the stench of ketchup that permeates through the place. Then again, the convenience of 5 blocks away does have some value.

                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: poulet_roti

                                                                                                                                                                    Frankly I'm glad a decent burger isn't near by. Use to live 7 blocks from Bill's and if there was parking I'd stop just because there was a parking space.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. I'm not going to claim best, but in addition to all the good burgers that have been mentioned (Luka's, Phyllis', Mo's) I'd add Christophers' Burgers on College in Rockridge as a respectable choice.

                                                                                                                                                                    I used to love the Smokehouse but the place is falling apart physically so much (yes more than before) that it's getting less enjoyable.

                                                                                                                                                                    Have folks tried out The Counter in Palo Alto, our import from Santa Monica?

                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Nathan Landau

                                                                                                                                                                      When we first moved here a couple years ago, my husband and I went to the Smokehouse on recommendation from Yelp!... It was the worst ever. Horrible burger, horrible chicken sandwich (some sort of pressed chicken-like patty), and horrible fries. It was at that point we decided to take Yelp! recs with a very large grain of salt.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. Quarter Pound Big Burger in the Easy Bay.

                                                                                                                                                                      If you're like me, and you like big greasy fattening burgers and giant fries w/yummy shakes and a country atmosphere open very late then this is the place for you!

                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Flavelle

                                                                                                                                                                        You mean Quarter Pound Giant Burger on MacArthur in Oakland?

                                                                                                                                                                      2. Marco's Burger at Eccolo in Berkeley is my new favorite. To my taste, it beats out my old favorites Zuni, Rouge, Grayson and Gregoire. Eccolo uses the perfect hamburger bun: soft and yielding to the mouth, yet substantial enough to stand up to the beef without getting juice logged. But it's the guacamole that brings this burger to the next level. It's simple: Eccolo uses excellent avocadoes (perhaps Brokaw?) whereas 99% of restaurants in the Bay Area use lousy ones. The combination of cheddar, guac and beef is deeply satisfying. I always order my burger very rare and it always comes perfectly seared.

                                                                                                                                                                        Only drawback to Eccolo is the price. At $13 for a burger sans fries it's up there with the spendiest burgers in town. The large side of fries is an additional $5, though quite delicious. Still, for a burger and fries this perfect, I'll gladly drop a $20. I just wish they had beer on tap.


                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                                                                                                                                                          There's a great bay area burger blog that has pictures of almost every burger mentioned in this thread. They also raved about the Eccolo burger and the picture of it puts it high on my list to try.

                                                                                                                                                                          I wouldn't really recommend Holy Grill which I recently tried.

                                                                                                                                                                          My favorite still remains Bullshead in West Portal. However, Brickhouse in Somo is another burger that is high on my to try list

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: rworange

                                                                                                                                                                            I looked at that blog with the pix. I truly admire the man's love of burgers. But I noticed that a fair amount of these burgers cost, like, 12 bucks. His poetic description of B's burger made me say, there's tomorrow's lunch, until I noticed the $12 price tag. Eccolo's is $13 and 'Tuscan' fries (what the heck are Tuscan fries, what a load of crap) cost extra!!

                                                                                                                                                                            Now, it took me moving to CA to find out I was a cheap Yankee, and I admit that I am a cheap Yankee, but people! 12 bucks for a frickin' burger! Highway robbery! Those people are first up against the wall when the revolution comes. Who's with me?

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: essvee

                                                                                                                                                                              There is an even mix. There are about 24 burgers over $7 and 22 $6 or less. You gotta admire someone who ate almost 50 burgers ... with cheese ... and bacon ... and fries.

                                                                                                                                                                              Another thing that skews the prices is that the blogger added bacon whenever possible and sometimes double burgers ... that can up the price. Also some came with fries and some without. A $7 burger with fries ... especially with bacon on it isn't killer pricey.

                                                                                                                                                                              I kind of gagged when I saw the $7 price for what was one of the cheapest burgers in the area ... Red's Java House ... but it was a double cheeseburger with bacon ... STILL a little pricy for Red's though ... about three years ago the burgers were still under $3.

                                                                                                                                                                              Starting to make In N Out, not a favorite of mine , look more favorable with that price tag of $2.75.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. This has been really educational...but how come nobody's mentioned Burger Joint in the Mission? Yum!!!

                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: baozhen

                                                                                                                                                                            There are three mentions of Burger Joint above. The third (chronologically) also expressed surprise that no one had mentioned it.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                              the liberties, at 22nd/guerrero, an otherwise hit-or-miss joint, has my favorite burgers. Although my favorite fries are at Luna Park.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. Beale St. Bar and Grill at lunchtime. It's at least half a pound. No real choice
                                                                                                                                                                            of cheese. Uninspired bun. Crappy little bar. So, so excellent! Five bucks maybe?

                                                                                                                                                                            1. Val's all the way. Juicy like none other and superb charbroiled flavor too. I've tried many of the other places listed here and none have come close to Val's, except Original Joe's, whose awe-inspiring burger was described earlier in the Westlake Joe's post. Strong caveat though-- they fire up the (real, Lazzari) charcoal broiler for lunch on Friday only. The same burger cooked on the grill is not nearly as good.

                                                                                                                                                                              As for Niman Ranch, I find their beef flavorless. Not good. And I would buy Farmer John pork over Niman Ranch every time. I admire their principles, but for me flavor will always win out.

                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: essvee

                                                                                                                                                                                when you say that they only fire up the charcoal broiler with Lazzari only for lunch on Fridays - are you referring to Original Joe's? or about Val's?

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: gordon wing

                                                                                                                                                                                  Original Joe's. Sorry that wasn't clear.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: essvee

                                                                                                                                                                                    thanks for the clarification - I've enjoyed the burger at Original Joe's - looking forward to making it to Val's soon!

                                                                                                                                                                              2. At Original Joe's on Taylor in SF, the charcoal grill goes on at 5pm; I had not known that Friday lunch has it, too. They won't do cheese when you get it on the charcoal grill, you have to beg them to slap it on after it comes off grill, still very delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. I would say Eccolo on 4th street does a great burger, their meat is superb, and the buns are pretty fanom.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. my favorites - second the vote for street on polk, yummy burgers; also a vote for chez maman on union, nontraditional as it's on a baguette and recommended with roquefort or gruyere and bacon; and nopa
                                                                                                                                                                                    all fantastic and in their own way!

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. The Burgermeister without a doubt! The bugers are great and the garlic fries are to die for! There are several location throughout the city.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Hands down, it's got to be Original Joe's on Taylor Street in San Francisco. Charcoal broiled on a french roll. The french fries are very light, because I believe they still use olive oil in the frying method. Too bad the neighborhood is, well, the pits.


                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I like Slow Club and Zuni, Zuni has great condiments. Otherwise I make the best burger.

                                                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Lori SF

                                                                                                                                                                                            Pete's Henny Penny Diner in Petaluma (at Petaluma Blvd No and Stony Point across from Dennys). It is a 24 hour diner with burgers made from grass fed beef. The real deal. Also awesome pies.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: drmimi

                                                                                                                                                                                              Grass fed beef from (the late) Pete's own herd, no?

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: drmimi

                                                                                                                                                                                                Also, awesome specials. I always liked the Thursday Special of corned beef and cabbage - now, you've reminded me to stop and check it out again. :^)
                                                                                                                                                                                                I was sitting at the counter, chatting with one of the old-timer dairymen, and he tipped me to Mike's At the Yard for great burgers(this was back in 1991).

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Cynsa

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Alas, Mike's at the Yard is no more. Mike's at the Crossroads (Cotati) is going strong and just as good (except for the potato salad...get potato chips instead).

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. My new favorite burger at a "napkin" restaurant is at The Richmond on Balboa St in SF. Great burger, with homemade condiments and delicious fries. My favorite casual burger places are Flipper's in Oakland and Slider's in SF. I don't "get" the In-n-Out thing at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kresge86

                                                                                                                                                                                                >I don't "get" the In-n-Out thing at all.<

                                                                                                                                                                                                I'm with you. To me it's just another wafer-thin cooked-to-death fast food burger. Ugh.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I just tried the burger for lunch at the Salt House. It was okay, but not great. It came with cheddar cheese, and a whole mess of the skinny onion rings. The onion rings were overly salted. The burger meat didn't have a lot of flavor, and tended to crumble apart. Finally, I thought the $15 price was way too high. Was this just a bad day? I ordered the burger "medium" but I don't think it was a matter of overcooking the burger as it was still very pink throughout.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Simple-Town in San Carlos. Corn fed Midwest Angus makes the difference. Happy cows just don't taste as good. They make nice cheese but don't have what it takes (fat) to make a steak. Yes, this includes Harris Ranch. Sorry Californians.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mtillman

                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you think Harris Ranch is the best local beef available, no wonder you are unimpressed. I consider Harris Ranch to be among California's worst.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mtillman

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Even tho this thread started a few years ago with the last reponse until this in 2007, this is the first I think I've heard of Town mentioned for a good burger.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      716 Laurel Street, San Carlos, CA 94070

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mtillman

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Their menu's description of the burger says, "house ground premium filet." If they mean filet mignon, that's a relatively low-fat and tasteless cut.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Metropolitan in Lafayette is worth a try.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Can someone please tell me what all the fuss is about regarding the Zuni Cafe? I've eaten there on several occasions and found the food to be just OK, and the service to be rude and unimpressive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Zuni Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mevans

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Are we really reviving a 3 or 4 year old burger war? There were quite a few more recent burger threads.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            PS. I had the burger at Village Pub in Woodside again. It's really, really good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Village Pub
                                                                                                                                                                                                            2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mevans

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I go to Zuni about once a year and have ALWAYS had attentive, faultless service. I'm so sorry you had a bad experience. I love to go there in between lunch and dinner when it's very quiet. Best caesar salad, great burgers (if it's the right time for them) and great roasted chicken.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Zuni Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Plum has a great burger on its late-night menu (10:30 on, $15). Highly superior patty: ribeye, gamy and fatty. Griddled, very juicy. Small Kaiser roll, also griddled, not my favorite but works well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2214 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

                                                                                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                                                OMG, I'm going to have to get used to Bay Area prices again. I'm paying that for a top class French meal in Guatemala. Seeing the price of that burger ... and a late nite special price at that ... made my heart and pocketbook flutter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Excellent burgers; great toppings...open until 1 AM...cheap wine by the glass...5.00 plus. Reviewed on the PBS Diners and Dives show...also great breakfasts and brunches and things like hot turkey sandwich with gravy, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce for 10 or 11 bucks..
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Recession proof...try it...female chef, your money's worth, but not 25.00 Japanese beef!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4081 Hollis St, Emeryville, CA 94608

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bearmtntrader

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I made The Burger my grail upon arriving here in the Bay -- I'd been disappointed by my options in Boston, and was craving them for some reason at almost menopausal-she-wolf levels. I've slowed down in my quest, but still check back in with my faves:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sidebar, in Oakland. Get the egg on it. And the gruyere. Trust me. I've done it without, just to ensure that I wasn't being seduced by eggy, cheesy tomfoolery, and it was an amazing burger on its own. But let me repeat: get the egg and gruyere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Spork: this is a kind of postmodern homage to In N' Out, and it's really, really good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Namu: almost perfect. They somehow manage to make kim chi on your burger seem as natural as ketchup -- i.e., like it should always have been there, and it's been your fault for having been so dense as not to have ordered it specially.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ravenous, in Healdsburg: this was a real surprise; I was in a bad mood, and wasn't all that wowed by the restaurant's ambience for whatever reason, and was almost petulantly prepared to not like my meal (I mention this to add weight to what comes next), at which pojnt one of the most singularly juicy and classic burgers I'd ever eaten arrived. I felt upbraided by the angels.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Zuni: I have nothing to add here, really -- it's great. At first the focaccia thing didn't do it for me. Then it did. It's great -- though I'll take Sidebar over it any day, oddly enough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Nopa: my burgerquestmate's favorite. I think it's very, very good, but not good enough to medal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Fish & Farm: tied with Nopa.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Lastly, for the grotty ambience and QPR, I'll mention Red's Java Hut.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I thought Slow Club's was meh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Full disclosure: have not been to Rouge or had a Rosamunde burger yet. Can't wait.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Zuni Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Slow Club
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2501 Mariposa Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1058 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    439 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Java Hut Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    60 Greenfield Ave, San Anselmo, CA 94960

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. There are two of these topics going on at the same time. Best burger in bay area and best burger in bay area 2011. Guess its a hot topic and a long running one as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ROCKLES

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A few weeks ago someone bounced this 2008 topic, which is pretty out of date. I looked around for something more recent, didn't find anything so I started a new one:


                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Friday, Bauer mentions a place Gilberth's on 3rd between 20th and 22nd that includes lamb and chorizo. Picture looks very good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Any experience?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Gotta agree with RL, Zuni is my fave, although using their cookbook recipe, I've pretty much emulated it using my grinder. Not paying $15 is nice too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Bullshead has gone down hill--think it's new owners. Besides that, haven't tried any of the new places since I'm pretty happy with my Zuni at home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Never understood why Rosamunde was so highly ranked. Never thought it was so good. I guess after some high octane at the Tornahole, anything tastes good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hankstramm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The Rosamunde burger surprised me. I put it off for quite a while, figuring it was just hype. But it was really solid, and I swear I'd only had a couple of sips of my Pliny the Elder before it arrived!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hankstramm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              >I guess after some high octane at the Tornahole,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              >anything tastes good.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              given that it is only avail from ~1130am-130pm and not 11pm-1am ... on a tue no less ... dont think that is what is going on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              i havent been in a while, but i think the last time i was there, it was $5.50. it might not be your style of burger, but it's not really fair to compare it to a $12-$18 burger.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              i think a fair comparison is say to SUPERDUPER

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              that all being said, i do believe the last time i was there, it didnt seem "as good" ... again more than 1yr ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Goose & Gander's (from the menu: grass fed beef, gruyere, house smoked bacon and duck fat fries)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Original Joe's charbroiled burger is my pick. Even better is their hamburger steak with fried onions and sauteed mushrooms!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I've been back to Mission Bowl a couple of months ago and was not impressed with my burger, which was oversized and sloppy, drowning in that white sauce which soaked the bun; is it mayo based or aioli? Eitherway, it was poorly constructed, messy to eat and nothing special.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I tried out Pearl's in the Tenderloin last week as well, purely out of convenience on my walk hom from Union Square, and it was overcooked and flavorless.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Original Joe's wins for me so far!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: OliverB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pearl's is outright disgusting, but it's popular, and if you're in the crowd that likes dripping puddles of grease with each bite, it's a 50 napkin burger of "juice".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I really like the Joe's burger too. Good char taste. The meat isn't the best, but the ground onions, and soft real sour sourdough make for a nice package. There's something very satisfying about it. If they offered thousand island, it would be the perfect throwback burger.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Had the Nopa burger this weekend. That thing is absolutely great. Dunno if it is "the best in the Bay," as I don't usually order burgers in restaurants, but I personally would put it over a lot of other popular burgers, like the one at Mission Bowling Club.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. New contender for Best in the Bay Area...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Palo Alto Creamery (formerly Peninsula Creamery) on Emerson St. in Palo Alto.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Their Fountain Burger is basically a patty melt on homemade rye with grilled onions, crisp bacon and swiss. It's perfectly rare and crumbly on the inside; bursting with juice and flavor. This may have the edge over my previous favorite, Marin Joe's!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    They make a deadly strawberry maltshake... and they serve booze too!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: OliverB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Palo Alto Creamery used to be in Stanford Shopping Center.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Peninsula Creamery is still in business at 900 High Street.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        According to my research, P.A. Creamery was formerly Peninsula Creamery (est. 1936) on Emerson St. The company was actually established in 1922 but the original Emerson St. location opened in '36, which is a bit confusing, because there's also a 'Peninsula Creamery' on High St. as you've mentioned. It was, apparently, the largest of the local bottling plants in Palo Alto. They started out selling eight-cent milk pints out of a rented Ford truck, and at the time, and through the first half of the 20th Century, Palo Alto was sort of a regional dairy capital which thrived with local creameries. The Peninsula Creamery supplied milk to most of the Bay Area after the 1906 earthquake! By the late thirties, The Peninsula Creamery was bought over and the fountain shop (now the renamed Palo Alto Creamery) opened in it's current location. The current P.A. Creamery was part of a chain incl. the Peninsula Creamery on High Street, but split when new owners came in and took over the place - hence the new name, Palo Alto Creamery. You can see a photo of the Peninsula Creamery, corner of Emerson Street and Hamilton Avenue, ca. 1940 attached below - the same building that houses the current Palo Alto Creamery today...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: OliverB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Looking at the liquor licenses, it is owned by the same guy who had the Palo Alto Creamery in the shopping center.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It used to be called Peninsula Fountain & Grill, but there was also a sign that said Peninsula Creamery.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            They were all part of the Peninsula chain. The company was somehow divided and the new owners of the original Emerson St. location (and apparently the shopping center outlet) decided to take on the "Palo Alto Creamery" name to distinguish themselves. I read an in-depth article about it while digging through records in the Palo Alto archives, but I forget the specific details. I just recall that the few remaining locations were independantly owned and rebranded when the company split.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I edited the above post as it was a bit confusing. The interior space is spectacular btw; as far as I can tell most everything about the decor and fixtures is authentic. Here are a few more photos of the restaurant itself... and one of my wife double fistin' our maltshakes! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          All the food looked great btw, and as you can see from the menu board, they have a full service liquor license!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. re: OliverB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have repeatedly stated that "the creamery" (which nicely ducks the whole peninsula vs palo alto thing) has excellent burgers, and should be considered on any list. The burgers are reasonably priced, have a great meaty taste, and it's a fun enough place. The wine by the glass list is plausible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Check out the Bubbly Burger.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I will say one thing - don't sit by the kitchen. The smell's pretty bad. The specials are often very good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'd point you at the menu, but their server is returning

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Fatal error: Allowed memory size of 33554432 bytes exhausted (tried to allocate 122880 bytes) in /home/scratch7/public_html/drupal_www/sites/all/modules/views/modules/node.views.inc on line 266

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4. Easy!


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hands down, the best I've ever had, and at a great price point too!


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Recent favorite: the Blue bar burger at The Cavalier in SF. English cheddar, onions, and tomato chutney make the dish. We requested to add a sunny side up egg to it, too. It's owned by the same people as Marlowe, but I prefer the Cavalier burger by far

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: marilees

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In lieu of the elusive Waterbar burger, and the limited availability Alexanders wagyu burger, I've been enjoying the burger at Mikkeller pub. Great chewy and buttery roll (almost like a pretzel roll), came at the requested rare temperature 3 times out of 3, good crisp fries (slightly oversalted) or salad, $15 ($2 extra for avocado, cheese, etc). Add a glass of cask-conditioned english bitter or ale on the side and you're all set.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: barleywino

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Mikkeller pub...is that in Milpitas?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: marilees

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I like this burger a lot as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                For cheap burgers, I really like the burger at Split Bread. The balance between burger, bread, sauce and veggies is good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. Want to add a burger in Contra Costa Cty/Lafayette: Artisan Bistro's Angus burger. Served with caramelized onions, tomato marmalade, arugula, on a soft bun (not brioche). Not large but tall, about 1-1/2". Soft crust but no gray; evenly medium-rare pink all the way through. Additions were minimal but just right; nothing to take away from an amazing burger. The waiter upsold me on some Swiss and I'm glad he did; it was perfect.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We like our burgers just the way Artisan does it: salted very lightly well before cooking. We're not high-salt lovers (diet restrictions for the past decade). Because this isn't a fatty burger, the gentler cooking keeps it very tender and soft, not dried-out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It comes with salad or fries. We subbed sweet potato fries so my MIL could have some, and were wowed. Possibly the best SP fries we've ever had (and we've had lots of 'em).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It ranks just below Vault 164/SMateo (which I posted about earlier in this thread) as the best we've had. Vault wins solely due to trimming the brioche to fit the burger, a step most restaurants never think of. We dislike overly bready sandwiches so this always scores points with us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Artisan's burger is equal to French Garden/Sebastopol, not in style but in quality/taste of burger vs bun, with good accompaniments. French Garden makes fine standard fries; Vault makes terrible fries but the shredded mini-Caesar is an amazing accompaniment to their burger.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                To recap: in Oakland so far, we like Mockingbird's burger - not large, but well balanced with that great old-fashioned burger bun. For cheap burgers, we tried Flipside Burger at 3401 Lakeshore Ave. and liked it very well. They are cheerful and clean, will do any kind of combo you want, and make good juicy old-fashioned, messy burgers.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                For lamb burgers, our vote for first place is Hole In The Wall, Sebastopol. Second place to Spice Monkey, Oakland.