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San Rafael (Novato/Santa Rosa) - Phyllis' Giant Burgers ???

The enticing smell of grilled onions lured me into this burger joint, but I was too full to try it. It looks great.

Is it? I mean, if it smells so good that you have to stop to check it out when even the thought of another bite will kill you … it’s gotta be good … right?

This review which has picture of the burger and restaurant says the buns are specially made locally. Given they have a Bordanave on the menu and I’ve seen (but haven’t tried) Bordanave bread in San Rafael groceries … I’m assuming that’s who makes their buns … right?

How’s the shakes and if you had to choose one, would it be mocha, peanut butter or banana?

Onion rings or fries … or neither?

The San Rafael location is the original and opened in 1981. They opened a place in Novato in 2006. Is the soft serve ice cream at the Novato location any good?


The website says they are opening in Santa Rosa this year.

Worth the calories?


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  1. A (cheddar) cheeseburger with grilled onions at Phyllis' Giant Burgers in San Rafael (on the "Miricle Mile" extension of 3rd and 4th streets) is my favorite guilty comfort food which I indulged in today. I haven't tried the other versions of the burger, but I can vouch for the goodness of their onion rings. It's the real deal and I think the SR place somehow makes better burgers than their Novato place, juicier, more flavor, etc. Note that they make your burger the way you want, all the way from rare to very well done (medium is sort-of-pink).

    5 Replies
    1. re: Mick Ruthven

      I was bummed when Heavenly Hamburger (Santa Rosa) was kicked out by the "shopping center", they are being replaced by Phyllis' (they don't look open yet)... so I am hopeful (there are not many decent eating places within walking distance from my home... and my walking radius is usually 2 miles each way).

      I hope its good.... although I am now turned off by big burgers, I think they are a fad... and people will eventually go back to thinner patties. I very much prefer 8 ounces of beef in two well browned patties (like I could get at Heavenly Hamburger) than one patty with a bland, pink center. But I am open to whatever Phyllis will dish out.

      1. re: Eat_Nopal

        Phyllis is now open in Santa Rosa... had the Giant Burger with Cheddar & Bacon and the Curly Fries... both good, better than most Chains... but several notches below the Heavenly Hamburger it replaced. Nonetheless, I am happy to have something to walk to.

        1. re: Eat_Nopal

          "...several notches below the Heavenly Hamburger it replaced."

          I haven't been to the new Santa Rosa place, but I find the burgers at their next-newest Novato location not as good as at their San Rafael location (now closed due to a fire). I don't know why that's so, but there may be some touch that their SR main cook has that the others don't. The Novato burgers look great but somehow lack the flavor and juiciness of the SR version.

        2. re: Eat_Nopal

          After more than a year, I gave Phyllis another chance... I think they have settled down versus that first visit... I had the Giant with Mushrooms & Bleu Cheese... it was tasty... but the bread tore as it wasn't as supple as good fresh bun should be... I also noticed that they squirted some Gravy on the patty as well as the mushrooms while cooking, so it contributed some nice juices to the top bun (wonder if they copied this from Heavenly Hamburger or if this is what they have been doing all along), I asked for Medium and got just under Well Done... so they may have a tendency to over cook, the beef isn't particuarly tasty or juicy... overall its a Good burger with some flaws... much better than my first visit.

        3. re: Mick Ruthven

          I forgot to say that if you want grilled onions on your burger, you have to ask for them (they won't offer and they're not on the board as being available). There's no extra charge.

        4. Phyllis' burgers are wonderful, huge, and a screamin' deal. My only quibble is the last time I was in there (over a year ago) the bottom bun ended up turning to mush from the juices.

          An equivalent place, quality and price-wise, is the burger joint next to TJ's in the Montecito Shopping Center in San Rafael. Forget the name - Best Burger? Anyway it's priced for the highschoolers across the street, and when they're in class you can stop by and get a great bargain burger or fish and chips.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Sharuf

            I have to respectfully disagree with your opinion of the burger joint next to TJ's in the Montecito Shopping Center. To me, it's one step up from the fast-food places and their burgers are not at all equivalent to Phyllis' in San Rafael. I stopped going there after a few tries.

          2. We found nothing to be impressed with at Phyllis's on the Miracle Mile. Won't be going back.

            1. QUOTE: "This review which has picture of the burger and restaurant says the buns are specially made locally. Given they have a Bordanave on the menu and I’ve seen (but haven’t tried) Bordanave bread in San Rafael groceries … I’m assuming that’s who makes their buns … right?"

              Don't know, but I'd be surprised if Bordenave didn't make their buns. If you didn't know, Bordenave's bakery is less than 1 mile down the street (east) at 1512 Fourth Street. They have a nice little retail store at the bakery if you want to try out their stuff (you can buy single rolls). I haven't been there in 2 years, but back then I wrote the store hours on their business card: Mon-Fri 8-5, Sat 8-3, closed Sunday. I wouldn't be surprised if they changed their hours occasionally, since they seem like a "factory store" type of place (with their bakery and delivery trucks in the back).

              1. Phyllis' in San Rafael is closed due to a kitchen fire, and they're taking extra time to remodel. Not sure when they'll reopen for business.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Sarah

                  I have always had a great burger at Phylis's-no complaints.

                2. link

                  Phyllis' Giant Burgers
                  924 Diablo Ave, Novato, CA 94947

                  Phyllis' Giant Burgers
                  2202 4th St, San Rafael, CA 94901

                  Phyllis' Giant Burgers
                  4910 Sonoma Hwy, Santa Rosa, CA 95409