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Best Hamburger in San Diego?


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  1. Hard to say a best, though I'm sure you'll get many people claiming one or the other to be so, "hands down" no doubt.

    Some good ones:

    Hodad's in OB - Basic burger, but with a generous amount of toppings, and they have an unusual form of bacon on the burgers.

    Rocky's in PB - These have a lot of devotees. They are good, though nothing beyond burger w/ cheese in terms of options.

    Crest Cafe in Hillcrest - Tasty, and they will cook to order. Some interesting options, good bread.

    Phil's BBQ in Sports Arena - They grind their own chuck, and cook the burger over open flame. One of my favorites in town, though I get sauce on the side.

    The Linkery in North Park - Probably the biggest burger. Topped w/ bacon, pineapple, grilled onion, and a fried egg. One of the best.

    Cafe 910 in La Jolla - My favorite in SD. They'll cook it rare and serve it on brioche. Perfect in every way.

    Sammy's - They have mini Kobe beef sliders on sweet Hawaiian egg bread. They are very delicious, if atypical. Another of my favorites.

    Liars' Club in Mission Beach - Lots of cool variations, all of which are worthwhile. Great beer selection, too.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Josh

      Thank you Josh. You should get a publisher.

      1. re: Josh

        Being a college student going out w/ college student friends, could you tell me, Josh, which are the cheapest options?

        1. re: lotsofissues

          For cheapest options w/ college students, I'd suggest Hodad's, Phil's BBQ, Liars' Club, or Crest Cafe for two reasons. One, good burgers. Two, they serve good beer.

          Rocky's gets major demerits in the beer department. They only serve crappy macrobrews, with the exception of Widmer Hefeweizen, and that's not so great either: still Rocky's is cheap, burgers there are around $6. The wait can be insane. When I went, on a Sunday around 1pm, it was standing room only, and took an hour to get my burger. When I finally got it, I kind of wondered what all the fuss was about. I sometimes wonder if their fans have ever ventured beyond PB to see what else is available.

          Burgers at Hodad's can be as cheap as $6 for a combo w/ fries if you get the mini size (which is actually what I order when I go). The mini is 1/4 lb. and if you get it w/ bacon and cheese is quite satisfying. They don't put the mini bacon cheese on the menu, but you can order it. They have a few draft beers, including some local options.

          Phil's BBQ burger is $6 and is 1/2 lb. They have a nice choice of sides that are $1.50 apiece. Their beer selection is a little better than Hodad's, IMO, with some very good local handles/bottles available.

          Liars' Club is another good deal, burgers are $7 and come w/ fries or cole slaw. You can see a list of their burger options at their website, http://www.liarsclubsd.com - I particularly like the Fuego Burger and the Jerk Burger. Beer selection is the best of those listed, with a huge number of local options.

          Crest Cafe is a little bit more expensive than these places, with the 1/2 lb. burgers starting at $7 for the plain option, and hovering between $8 and $9 for the specialty choices. They have some interesting sides, the jicama cole slaw is quite nice.

          If you're interested in eating late at night, then Liars' Club and Crest Cafe are your best bets, as they are open until midnight.

          1. re: Josh

            When did Phil's start selling beer? You used to have to go next door to the gathering to get a beer?!

            1. re: AndreaBrannan

              Phil's has a new location in Sports Arena. The Mission Hills location is presently closed. Their new location has a bar.

              1. re: AndreaBrannan

                They have a full bar now at the new location near the Sports Arena.

        2. Rocky's!!! I used to live in PB, just a couple of streets from there, so I would go once every couple of weeks to get my red meat fix. Oh my gosh, I love their burgers. Now I'm clear across the country and when I go back to visit friends, I still make them take me to Rocky's!

          1. Here are my favorites (in no particular order)

            The Vine: I don't really know why this burger is so good, but it is. They use a wonderful ciabatta -like roll, and use excellent cheese. More Artisan than most of the places you will find on this list.

            Tiolis Crazy Burger: A relatively new place to the game, but darn good. They have some 27 variations of burgers - including Gator and Rattlesnake. I personally prefer the Dansk, which is a simple burger with lots of bleu cheese on top. Darn good french fries too.

            Hodads: Simple, but still a favorite.

            The Linkery: Not your traditional burger. Some people can't get beyond the fact that there is an egg and a slice of pineapple on their burger, but I happen to like it.

            Liars Club: Really not known for their burgers, (I order the fuego steak melt 99 % of the time) but pretty good. Go for the beer, but enjoy the hamburgers.

            1. I like Tiolis Crazy Burger on 30th. Great choices of burgers and (I guess most Americans are not interested but for me it is important) German soccer television.

              1. there is a similar thread, i think maybe "best burgers and fries in san diego"; check out the Longhorn on Mission Gorge Rd; also the Waterfront down near Little Italy; Chief's up in Solana Beach

                2 Replies
                1. re: ibstatguy

                  The Longhorn? Holy Louie Kelcher! (Make sure you ask to be seated in the John Wayne Room).

                  1. re: eatemup

                    HeeHee, the Longhorn has been around for a V-E-R-Y long time and turning out pretty decent burgers. There is a photo in my high school year book (Senior year) of some of the members of the football team at Longhorns chowing down. Let's see...that would have been Patrick Henry, 19....oh my god that was a long time ago...

                2. Boll Weevil, only for nostalgia!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: OCAnn

                    Boll Weevil! Any old 'hounds remember Jeff "Buddha"'s written feuds with the guy who used to reply with the BW for any question on where to eat in San Diego? I did happen to end up in a BW recently for happy hour, the waitress didn't give us our check until after the 1/2-price appetizer time, even though we were well finished with them before that, and tried to charge us full fare. No tip for her!

                  2. I second the Waterfront's Texas Burger but the fries need some work. Also the Palm Bar in Coronado has excellent Burgers.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: bythenumbers

                      Great list Josh! I would definitely add the Waterfront's burger to it, as well as Western Steak Burger. In so far as cost is an issue, WSB is a great value. It's on University in North Park just west of Texas street. For a straight up burger, it's delicious and my favorite spot! For a more "creative" burger I like Crest Cafe. Cafe on Park has a great bacon/mushroom burger also, and tasty onion rings.

                      1. re: bythenumbers

                        let's be frank, the Waterfront fries are just terrible; that said, I love the Texas burger with cheese and grilled onions

                      2. Husband was at The Vine in OB last night and tho he wasn't hungry enough to try one, he was told by the owner and several regulars that their burgers rock. Has anyone tried them? We're Rocky's fans and have yet to find their equal. That said, we're always on the lookout.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: mimosa

                          Maybe you can explain to me what the deal is with Rocky's. I thought it was a decent enough burger, but it tasted fairly ordinary to me. What do you find so special about it?

                          1. re: Josh

                            Yes, I would also like to know what exactly puts Rocky's on the top of many peoples lists. It's been a couple of years since I've been there, but I do remember their burger being not so memorable. Not bad, in fact pretty good, but I wouldn't put it in my top 5. Does anyone remember Brooklyn Burgers in North Park? They had a pretty good greasy burger. And has anyone been to Canada Burger in North Park/City Heights on University?

                            1. re: Kico

                              I have been a food junkie for most of my life and I can not tell you what is in the ROcky's burger that it makes it so good. It is a conundrum of the highest order. Usually I can pick up the flavor difference in foods. Rarely am i at a loss for the secret. But ROcky's has me stumped. I have only been a couple of times but it is a great burger. It is simple nothing fancy just very good.

                              Me thinks maybe a hint of the magic white powder from the east but its just a guess.

                              1. re: SeanT

                                I watched the guy cooking, and it looks to me like plain, unseasoned ground beef, cooked on a griddle, with American cheese, and then a standard hamburger bun. I doubt very much that there is some secret ingredient involved - it tastes like a basic hamburger.

                                I have a feeling their secret ingredient is the same one employed by El Indio, Point Loma Seafood, and Corvette Diner.

                                1. re: Josh

                                  I was thinking of trying finely ground Schezhuan Peppercorns in my hamburgers next time I grilled, since that gives you an MSG-like "Umami" sensation. Maybe if you put in just enough so that you couldn't tell there was any in there...

                              2. re: Kico

                                I go to Canada Steakburger on University about once a month for takeout. It's a decent burger for the price. Their fries are pretty good too (if you like greasy, thick-cut, somewhat crunchy fries). I don't know that I'd place them in the "best in San Diego" category, though maybe on a QPR basis. For instance, I think Tioli's Crazy Burger makes a better burger (and it's ambience is definitely better...), but it's a couple dollars more.

                              3. re: Josh

                                First off, it's the flavor - as in lots of it - thanks to the griddle. A grill lets all the fat (aka flavor) drip down thru the cracks whereas a griddle keeps it right there with the meat.

                                Next, for me anyway, is bun:burger ratio. Hate it when I'm left with a bunch of messy meat and no bun, but not as much as a bunch of bread with a hint of meat. Rocky's does it perfectly...my last bite almost always has bun and meat.

                                And finally, timing. I've seen some people (you for one) complain about the timing at Rocky's. I love it. Basically, we go in and order a beer and our burgers, and then bide the time chatting with one of the local characters, reading a paper or watching one of the 5 or so sports options. By the time our first beer is done, the burger arrives with another beer, we eat and we're done. I've never had the whole thing take more than 1 1/4 hrs - and rarely that long. Avoid the busiest times though- go before noon or after 3 or be prepared to wait a bit longer.

                                Maybe it's just preference, or maybe you were there on an off day. If it was the latter, give them another shot on an off-peak time and hopefully your experience will be better.


                            2. There is always a great deal of buzz over this subject.

                              I have to say Bully's in Mission Valley. It comes with a salad and choice of potatoe, fried, mashed etc. The burger is served on a French Roll. The great thing about Bully's is that you can order a burger.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                                When this topic comes up my two faves are the Bully Burger and the Waterfront's burger. I always scratch my head at the Rocky's burger--I just don't get it.

                                But now I may have to scratch off the Bully Burger. Was at the Del Mar location (I know it and LJ are not associated with Bully's east) and when the burger was ordered the following things happened:

                                a) noticed that the price (as all the prices) had risen quite a bit
                                b) noticed it no longer came with your choice of soup or salad that was extra $$
                                c) noticed it no longer was oval and on a french roll--it is the "regular" shape on a "regular" bun.

                                Lets just say I wanted to cry. Anyone been to bully's east or the LJ location and noticed the same thing?

                                1. re: jturtle

                                  That is a sad state of affairs, turtle. I used to like that location even with the constant scent of stale beer and Racing Forms. I also would be interested to know if Bully's East has kept to the old style.

                                  1. re: jturtle

                                    I just called Bullys East, it is still 850, and it served on the longer roll.!!!!!!
                                    I like the East location must better!

                                    1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                                      That is great news! Still soup or salad too? I always get the onion soup and for some reason it wasn't as good at that location but for the burger to be "proper" I will suck it up.

                                2. The "drugstore" burger offered by The Grill at The Lodge at Torrey Pines. While not exactly a budget option at $17, it does deliver a terrifically tasty and nostalgic wallop. The fries are actually quite good as well. Side tip: for a mere $25 anyone can buy a "day pass" the the Lodge's spa. This gives you all-day access to the freshwater pool, jacuzzi (which overlooks the Torrey Pines golf course and ocean), the gorgeous mosaic showers, steam room, sauna, bathrobes, cosmetic products, gym, co-ed lounge, and, on weekends, yoga classes. I guarantee the great burger is even better when served to you poolside with a glass of wine or in the hot tub while you're watching parasailers cruise over Black's.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: d_light

                                    I've heard good things about that burger, and I too am in the camp that doesn't get the whole Rocky's thing. They taste just like the burgers my mom used to make at home. Not bad, but not something I would crave.

                                    I also like the sound of that spa deal - I know you can do that at a lot of the spas in Vegas if you are a hotel guest, but I didn't know the Lodge offered it to just anyone. Might have to check that out. Estancia and La Costa also have new/remodeled spas that might be worth looking into.


                                  2. Went to Nessie's up in Fallbrook today and had a great burger.
                                    Good meat, (not very seasoned) in a good, thick patty, with enough lettuce, tomato and onion to stand up to the meat w/o overpowering it. Bun and burger were same exact size and the bun held up well to the juicy burger without crumbling. All in all, one of the best I have had in SD.
                                    I liked the fries as well, which were large, crinkle cut, and well done.
                                    Also, the decorations of the Loch Ness monster completely cracked me up.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: JRSD

                                      I gotta say - I've only had that Nessie burger once (after reading about it on this board), but I've been craving another one ever since! I wouldn't go as far as saying it's the best in San Diego (too many others I haven't tried), but it's a damn good burger.

                                      1. re: JRSD

                                        If you think the Nessy burger is good you have to try the egg and cheese sandwich. It is phenomenal.

                                        1. re: JRSD

                                          We stopped for a Nessie Burger when we were staying in the Fallbrook area a couple of years ago. It ranks as one of my all-time favorite burgers! If I'm ever back in that neck o' the woods, I'll definitely stop and have another!

                                        2. The Spot in La Jolla has a good burger, 1/4 or 1/2 lb, with lots of bread, sauces, sides, and cheese options. Can be touristy due to the location, but locals still go there...and it has a decent bar. Good for an afternoon beer, burger, and catch up on the news or sports scores.

                                          1. I'm sorry, but I'm absolutely enamored with the Tower 23 burger at JRDN. $10 buys you a generous patty of freshly ground meyer ranch chuck...nicely charred on the outside, pink and juicy in the middle. Topped with white cheddar and served on a soft, freshly baked roll with all the trimmings on the side and a MOUND of delicious, thin crispy herbed pomme frittes. Yes, it's pretty, but it's not pretentious.

                                            This love affair will last and last. They also have a nice wine and cocktail list...and do other things well. I love this place...even though they tore down my favorite little boardwalk store to build it.

                                            I really dig the carpaccio with fried capers, too.

                                            1. There are a lot of great posts about this great topic. I too am a huge burger fan. My personal opinion on the subject is I love rockys. I know it is not a fancy burger and I can easily see why people think it is just a good burger. I like it because it is hard to make such a flavorful burger without a lot of toppings. I feel any burger can taste good if you put bacon, avacado, etc... on a burger, but rockys burgers taste great without any of them except cheese. I do love a burger with all those toppings as well like lairs club, hodads,etc. Rockys is a great place to go for a simple great tasting burger with a cheap watery beer. The other places are great to go to any other time you are in the mood for a delicious burger. Enjoy.
                                              I have not tried Phils yet, but it is now at the top of my burger list.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: wiedemann5

                                                I am so with you, I absolutely looove Rocky's! It's right down the street from my house and it pains me every time I go by and don't stop to have one. I don't know what it is that makes them so good, but they are. I think it's just that they're so unpretentious.. Or they're just great I don't know. My question is this though, why hasn't anyone mentioned Bare Back? Those burgers are really good too!!

                                                1. re: punkgrrl25

                                                  Bare Back grinds their New Zealand beef fresh daily. The lamb burger is realy good and super juicy

                                                  1. re: Captain Jack

                                                    I second Bare Back (although I believe they now get their beef from the midwest... still organic, though)

                                              2. western steak burger on university gets my vote and the deluxe with the gyro meat on it makes it even more heavenly. i tried the burger from phils awhile back before they opened up the new location and was pretty dissapointed. tasted bland to me.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: DoctorQuality

                                                  I had a delicious bacon cheeseburger at the Sandbar in Mission Beach. I wasn't expecting much but wow, great meat and the bacon was the thick applewood smoked variety that was fried up specifically for the burger as opposed to being grabbed out of a warmer. I think it helped that we were there post breakfast and before the big lunch crowd.

                                                2. I usually go to Crest Cafe and get the Butter Burger. I love their fries even though my significant other thinks they underseason them.

                                                  NuNu's - Also in Hillcrest which I haven't seen anyone mention. They are a divey-type bar but they actually make some tasty burgers and other bar type food. Then you can tie one on if you so desire

                                                  When I lived in OB, Hodad's was the place. Those burgers are stacked so high getting one in your mouth is like trying to shove a golf ball through a garden hose.

                                                  1. On the not so great side are two real disapointments. Last night I tried the burger at C Level Lounge. The burger AND bun were chared. Why can't some cooks understand the difference between well done and burnt. Also had the same problem with the Kobe Burger from The Brigantine. And with both at $10 - $12!

                                                    1. Longhorn Cafe
                                                      Waterfront-Texas burger
                                                      The Spot

                                                      Love NuNu's for cocktails and never thought to have a burger there..

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: Beach Chick

                                                        texas burger with cheese and onions is a standout but as I said above or elsewhere, I don't like the fries at waterfront

                                                          1. re: jturtle

                                                            I sure like the fries at Guild but it isn't a burger place (they do have great sliders though). the fries at chiefs in solana beach have been pretty good. i get the onion rings at Longhorn and like those.

                                                          2. re: ibstatguy

                                                            your right..their fries aren't that great..it's to bad since the texas burger is so darn good!

                                                        1. I'd also add Miami Grill's burger to the list. "Kobe beef" with chorizo slices. Sweet potato fries. Only been to the one in Poway, been meaning to check out the UTC one.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Katdiego

                                                            I love the burger at Nine ten....

                                                          2. For huge greasy burgers you can barely get your mouth around Hodads in OB is one of a kind with a grungy surfer joint feel to the place. For a chain Fudrucker's has some damn good burgers while the best fastfood burger hands down is In'N Out Burger.

                                                            In my opinion the best burger in the world served in a sit down restaurant is Ercoles in Manhattan Beach in LA but San Diego is no slacker when it comes to high end burgers just try Rocky's in Pacific Beach. Rocky's is a down home sort of place serving great burgers at an affordable price but if you're looking for a higher end burger place try Bully's in Mission Valley.

                                                            1. Comrades “Best” lists are hard enough but best burger lists are nearly impossible. Here is my twenty five cents:

                                                              Childhood favorite: Double Mini Steer Burger at the dreaded Bowl Weevil (original location on Midway)

                                                              Current Favorites:
                                                              El Sol Café on University Ave (yeah Ed Bedford let the cat out of the bag)

                                                              The Best Burger you cannot find:

                                                              Wes’s Patty Melt. “Big Belt” mentioned the NuNu’s burger, well that was Wes and his patty melt redefined my concept of burgers when he started cooking them at the Alibi several years ago. The word on the street was he moved to the Imperial House but I went there the other day and it proved wrong. If he surfaces, this will turn out all Rocky’s & Hodad fans for sure

                                                              Place to Try:
                                                              Community Diner 30th & Upas. Cool cat opening a new spot next to the bar. Should be open second week of June.

                                                              Honorable Mention from the past:
                                                              Grangers Café on El Cajon Blvd. Now it’s an Ethiopian spot, but in the day their malts and burgers were some of the best.

                                                              8 Replies
                                                              1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                The burgers kicked ass when Wes was there. They were good when Joe (the cook before Wes) was there too. They're still ok but not like they used to be.

                                                                1. re: mangiatore

                                                                  True. NuNu's still ranks as the one of the best bars in town because you can get an honest drink and decent food all while talking to the ladies. If you get wind of where Wes is, give me a shout.

                                                                  1. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                    Wes's burgers were big enough that my friend and I used to just cut it in half and split an order of fries as well. We'd be stuffed for about $5 each! I'll let you know if I find out where he's gone...

                                                                2. re: Charlie SanDiego

                                                                  Checked out El Sol tonight. It was a good burger, but I still gotta give top marks to Cafe 910.

                                                                  1. re: Josh

                                                                    How does El Sol compare to other under-$10 burgers, like Hodad's, Rocky's or Tioli's Crazy Burger (perhaps most meaningful, since it's in the same neighborhood)? I've been meaning to go to El Sol, but every time I do, I end up at Philly Grill next door...

                                                                    1. re: mikec

                                                                      My current personal favorite of the cheaper burgers is actually Jeff's in La Jolla, primarily because of the char-grilling. I think El Sol is every bit as good as Hodad's, Rocky's, or Tioli's.

                                                                      The one thing about El Sol that I think works against them is some of the toppings aren't so great. They use these cheap neon-green pickle slices and iceberg lettuce, for example. On the other hand, the burger was under 5 bucks.

                                                                      1. re: Josh

                                                                        Josh, can you define "low quality tomatoes"? A lot of the tomatoes I'm seeing both in the grocery stores and through non-commerical distribution are pretty ugly. Are the suspect tomatoes typical at El Sol or is it that sometimes they're okay and sometimes they're not.

                                                                        1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                          Well, I've only been the once, so I have amended my comment. However, given the bun used, the iceberg, and the pickles, I wouldn't expect them to be using anything super-fancy as far as tomatoes go, especially given the low price of the burger. I remember Neal from Wit's End often complaining about the high price of decent tomatoes.

                                                                          All that being said, Hodad's has always seemed to have pretty decent tomatoes for their burgers.

                                                                3. Anyone try Cheeburger Cheeburger in Carmel Mtn Ranch? They did a story on it on KFMB:

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Green_Turtle

                                                                    I've eaten there twice. They're a chain but very good--at least on par with Fuddrucker's. Their fries and onion rings are very good and they've got a huge selection of shakes and malts.

                                                                  2. The Lodge at Torrey Pines

                                                                    1. I agree with the standard Hodad's, Rocky's et al, but I'm suprised that no one mentioned Shades in O.B. especially the artery killing Surfer Burger - couple different cheeses, crispy bacon (very important), avo, and just plain damn good meat melded together with the right kind of bun, the kind that you don't notice until its gone, not too fluffy and toasted just right

                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                      1. re: mswan

                                                                        Just read a write up in the "Ultra Glossy" Pacific Beach Magizine on the High Dive Bar and Grill on Morena Blvd. Is the High Dive worthy of adding to this list?


                                                                        1. re: stevuchan

                                                                          To answer your question stevuchan, yes my son and I went on a burger run for over two+ months (one week at a time). We both thought the burgers at High Dive were good. Here is the rundown of the other places:

                                                                          Lucky Bucks – took way too long and burgers were overcooked and dry
                                                                          Boomerangs – second try to be fair, but still not worth the time and money
                                                                          O’Hungrys – We both thought the burgers were good
                                                                          Blueberry Hill – Pleasant surprise in OB, very good burgers and toppings, only complaint was the place was too well lit
                                                                          Rockys – Good burgers, rude staff
                                                                          Islands – Chain, but good burgers!
                                                                          Boll Weevil – Why is this place still in business?
                                                                          Tiolis Crazy Burger – Good variety and good burgers
                                                                          Hodads – Still our favorite of the bunch!

                                                                          1. re: pbhomey

                                                                            Thanks for the info. Sounds like a good couple months. I think The Weev survives via fond childhood memories.


                                                                            1. re: stevuchan

                                                                              Stopped by High Dive for lunch yesterday, fantastic burger, cooked MR as requested nice and juicy, hand cut fries, good chicken wings. The GF loved the Pommegranit (sp) champange mojitto. Staff was great.


                                                                            2. re: pbhomey

                                                                              PBhomey, do you know if the Blueberry Hill in OB is related at all to the Blueberry Hill in the Fashion Valley mall? The burgers at the one in Fashion Valley *were* surprisingly good. Cooked to order, you choice of toppings.

                                                                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                Yes, it is the same place. I never had the burgers at Fashion Valley. This new place is in a strange location, it is on Voltaire, but quite inland. They had a great choice of toppings and the burgers came out just as we asked.

                                                                        2. The Linkery hamburger is proof that heaven exists.

                                                                          1. Just a heads up: Hodad's will be featured on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" on 10/15 @ 10 PM.


                                                                            1. Ive had two GREAT burgers recently where I actually ate the whole thing.. One at Torrey PInes grille..the other at Fresh in La Jolla.. nummy!!!

                                                                              1. I've been to Rocky's and Hodad's and prefer ROCKY'S! I think it is the fresh ground meat that makes them simply the best! I hate the wait and fuggedabout it if there is a game on!

                                                                                But, since I live in East County, I now go to Johnny B's in La Mesa. They recently expanded and have a nice patio area with a fire pit. Lots of TV's to watch your sports team, too.

                                                                                The burgers, fries, onion rings and jalapeno poppers are all good. They also have the little pottery dish with those yummy yellow chiles to put on your burger. This is kind of a "Cheers" bar where you really feel at home.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: LisaSD

                                                                                  We just moved back to mid-city after a few years in the EC and found Johnny B's to be a decent substitute for Rocky's - not a replacement though! Rocky's still fills the top spot on our local burger list and we've tried them all. We can walk to Tioli's now - but won't.

                                                                                  Another place you might want to try that's not exactly east county - but close - is Longhorn Cafe on Mission Gorge near Zion Ave. Pretty fine burgers.

                                                                                  1. re: mimosa

                                                                                    You don't like Tioli's? Why? Their burgers are pretty good, imho.

                                                                                2. I like the "sliders" from Tiny's in OB.

                                                                                  1. Have a new entry for the burger afficionados. I posted earlier, and am a 20 year Rocky's fan. I've eaten burgers throughout the state, as far north as Taylor's Refresher in St. Helena, but still love Rocky's. Yep, there are many great tasting burgers out there, but most are about all the toppings, which can certainly yield a yummy sandwich. Rocky's is all about the burger.

                                                                                    That said, I recently had a burger at a new place on 8th and G called Neighborhood. Upscale wine/beer/burger bar. The burgers are quite good. A whole different experience than Rocky's (and it won't replace my fav). They taste almost like steak, but unlike most of the burgers that I've said that about, these are juicy and cooked right. Give it a try and see what you think.

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: rotie77

                                                                                      and half a block away from my work. Too bad they're not open for lunch!


                                                                                      1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                        a burger place that ain't open for lunch shouldn't even get mention!

                                                                                        1. re: ibstatguy

                                                                                          yeah, I agree that's a problem. But if you're willing to write off a great burger because of their hours, you're pickier than I.

                                                                                          1. re: rotie77

                                                                                            ok, what are their hours? and how are the fries...they better be damn good

                                                                                    2. I'd have to say Tioli's Crazee Burger

                                                                                      Every time I go there the burgers seem to get bigger and better. They're also pretty cheap and everyone who works there are super nice.

                                                                                      1. Cass Street Bar and Grill. I would put it on par with Rocky's. The only downside is that they don't do fries (not sure why -- no deep fryer, maybe?). I haven't tried Hodad's yet, though. Every time I get down to OB I end up at South Beach...

                                                                                        1. Burger Lounge on 4100 or 4200 Adams Avenue. Anyone?

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                            1. Apart from the burgers that I can make myself on the grill, the best that I've had had can be found at Rocky's. My 4 year old votes for McDonald's :)

                                                                                              1. I love the wide variety of opinions on what makes a great burger. Went to Rocky's last week, and asked for my burger 'as rare as possible,' to which the server responded that they don't really cook rare burgers because it's against the law, but she would ask anyway. The burger was delivered, and the person dropping it off specified that mine was the rare burger - it was cooked brown throughout. Not my personal idea of a great burger. Add one of the worst beer selections in town, and I'm stumped by the cult status of the place.
                                                                                                Luckily for me, a new place has opened not far from my home that cooks my idea of a great burger - Alchemy in South Park. I've posted this before, but I'm excited about this place enough to repeat my endorsement - that is a great burger, flavorful, grass fed beef, cooked to the temperature you order, topped with good manchego cheese and served with crispy, tasty fries, for ten dollars.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: Josh

                                                                                                  Sorry, folks. Discussing the possibility of contaminated beef at recommended restaurants is off topic here. If someone has reason to suspect a restaurant is unsafe, it's absolutely essential that they report it to proper authorities, who can do something about it. Thanks very much.

                                                                                                2. Kitchen 1540.

                                                                                                  ...next stop: Beef 'n Buns? in the East County to try what a friend of mine referred to as, "Mighty fierce" when it comes to some serious hamburgers.

                                                                                                  1. Rocky's, Rocky's, Rocky's.

                                                                                                    There are plenty of great and gourmet grass-fed burgers out there. But you gotta go for the tried and true local original.

                                                                                                    The Hodad's vs. Rocky's competition is no contest at all. Besides the fact that they aren't anything alike when it comes down to it. Hodad's would do better against In-N-Out (thin patty, iceberg lettuce, special sauce, etc.).

                                                                                                    Rocky's Rocky's Rocky's Rocky's..

                                                                                                    26 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: cookieshoes

                                                                                                      Meh, Rocky's is totally boring and uninteresting. A big lump of commodity ground beef cooked on a flat top served on a white bread roll with American cheese. I mean seriously, why do people rave about this place?

                                                                                                      Hodad's vs. Rocky's? I mean that's like debating Bud vs. Miller - they're equally mediocre.

                                                                                                      It's like saying El Indio is the best place for Mexican food, or Pt. Loma Seafood the best place to eat fish. It's local lore that's several years out of date at this point.

                                                                                                      IMHO, of course. :-)

                                                                                                      1. re: Josh

                                                                                                        I think you are conflating two very different levels of hype here - tourist hype and local hype.

                                                                                                        El Indio, for some reason (past media coverage?) has tourist hype because they come expecting us to have a great "Mexican" food scene (which we do, it just isn't at El Indio). They also come expecting us to have a great seafood scene (which, for the most part, we don't - but Pt. Loma Seafood gives the tourists what they are looking for).

                                                                                                        The Rocky's hype is different - it is more about recognition of a little local joint that has been consistently pleasing local customers for a while now. They do a well-executed burger at a good price point in a relaxed, non-pretentious, and very enjoyable beach-area-bar atmosphere.

                                                                                                        Call Rocky's local lore if you like. It is certainly local, but I don't think it is at all out of date.

                                                                                                        1. re: menuinprogress

                                                                                                          IMO, you can also throw in Big Kitchen, a tourist hype place with really MEH food and horrid coffee.

                                                                                                        2. re: Josh

                                                                                                          I still like Ritual, with Brant beef, for about 12 bucks but I agree, if I'm going to take in cals it better be real good and a not a rip off. As far as Burger Lounge goes, the burger patty is on point however, the tomato, fries and other ingredients are just commercial commodity stuff so IMO, it deflates the value of the beef. I'm still trying to find a burger that is accompanied with 'real good' fries, I haven't found any place that has both on the same plate. Josh, any suggestions?

                                                                                                        3. re: cookieshoes

                                                                                                          With all respect to differences of opinion, is there any reason you prefer Rocky's? Any specific aspect of the meat, cheese, bun, toppings, or sauce?

                                                                                                          1. re: Northpark

                                                                                                            Yes- is there anything- anything at all- to like about a Rocky's burger?

                                                                                                            I mean, they're OK, but nothing really special. Like Waterfront, or Longhorn, or Blu Inn. They taste good with many beers or after a long ride (Blu Inn) but otherwise...?

                                                                                                            1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                              I like the simplicity of the Rocky burger..no, it's not the best burger in town and the staff are usually surly but when I'm craving a Rocky burger...it's probably because I am a little hung over and nothing beats a Rocky burger with fries and a cheap pitcher of beer to make everything right with the world.

                                                                                                              1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                Ah. The cultural connection. This, I understand.

                                                                                                                1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                  I'm in complete agreement with you. A burger at Rocky's is a very satisfyingly complete experience.

                                                                                                                  Since the demise of Liars' Club (which was a bit hit and miss in the burger department, but awesome in every other way), Rocky's and Cass St. are my go-to burger spots in the neighborhood.

                                                                                                              2. re: Northpark

                                                                                                                "With all respect to differences of opinion, is there any reason you prefer Rocky's?"

                                                                                                                This is, I think, the easy part of it all. The reason is because "it's good".

                                                                                                                There are how many burgers in any town? A lot. So, it's like trying to narrow down the perfect slice of pepperoni or the best house salad.

                                                                                                                I think that Rocky's deserves the "best burger in San Diego" because it's proven itself. Chalk it up to the bar staff, or the odd location, or the cash only limited menu with the no-name licensed "house" beer and the 70's beach vibe with the grill in the back and all of those pre-packaged buns on the wall. Or chalk it up to that burger that just tastes so good that you really don't know why it does. It's a combination of all of that.

                                                                                                                There are many joints like Rocky's in San Diego, all the way up to Escondido. Plenty of bars or small hole-in-the-walls that make the cut for some, but are also unknown to most.

                                                                                                                But that's just it. There's a reason that many of us speak so highly (however ill-informed or ill-equipped most of us are) of Rocky's. It's because the joint has withstood the contenders. The best burger ever made? No. The best burger ever made in San Diego? Probably not. The best burger for San Diegans? Yes.

                                                                                                                And, for that, and other reasons I'm sure, it's become a local icon for all of the many reasons that many similar joints do: it's familiar, it's cheap, it's good, and for what ever reason it is the "right thing at the right time in the right place".

                                                                                                                In other words, it's the local benchmark against which other places should be judged.

                                                                                                                1. re: cookieshoes

                                                                                                                  Clearly it's hard or impossible to separate the food from the experience. And I grok that- I know the sushi at Kaito (having visited many times)is far superior to Sushi Deli. But I go to SD 5 times as often as I go to Kaito. Probably due to proximity of home and kiddo's school, the friendly staff, the CHEAP prices, and the risk of being clubbed to death with a keyboard by Josh, Foodie/Beach Chick, Dining Diva and any number of my favorite Chowhounds. As a culinary philistine (who will someday travel and learn about life beyond these humble borders!), that risk is just part of the adventure.

                                                                                                                  The Blu Inn in Ocotillo Wells is the same way- the burger itself (and the subject of this thread-The Burger) is pretty good- nothing wrong with it. But after blasting up San Felipe wash at frightening speeds for an hour or so, a burger with your riding buddies is one of the best dining experiences one can enjoy.

                                                                                                                  It also works the other way. I was so put off by Neighborhood's staff and "service" that it was difficult to appreciate the dry, over-cooked burger that was tossed in front of me.

                                                                                                                  So- how about another thread- The Favorite Burger Experience?

                                                                                                                  1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                    Honestly, I couldn't care less about the experience. Well, no, let me put that a little differently. A good dining experience is certainly nice to have - however that cuts zero ice with me when it comes to the actual food item served on the plate in front of me. I find it frankly bizarre to see someone say that Rocky's is the "best burger for San Diegans" because of a cash-only menu or the decor in the bar. Sorry - those criteria have nothing to do with the food, at least not for me.

                                                                                                                    I went to Rocky's after reading all the hype on here, and was totally nonplussed. Sure, it was a competently executed burger, but really what is the meaningful difference between flat-top griddled burgers made from commodity meat and served on mass-manufactured bread? The uneven hand-shaped patty?

                                                                                                                    This is why I call the Rocky's thing "lore". It's simply an accepted bit of local hype among a certain audience that it's "the best", despite no evidence to support the assertion.

                                                                                                                    For me, what makes a great burger is really easy to define: the meat should be flavorful, which to me is a relative impossibility once it's cooked beyond medium rare. The bread should be good and fresh, not a preservative-laden roll from Smart and Final. The condiments should be minimal, because a good burger shouldn't need tons of sauce on it to taste like something. To me these are the things that elevate a burger from merely competent - and I've enjoyed a lot of competent burgers - to something really memorable.

                                                                                                                    The best burger I've eaten in San Diego I had at Cafe 910 in La Jolla. It was made from Wagyu beef, served rare, topped with a small amount of Point Reyes bleu cheese and caramelized onions, on a fresh brioche roll. Eye-rolling-to-the-back-of-your-head good. Unfortunately, I've read that their execution isn't very consistent and I've heard of people getting these burgers dry and over-cooked. That's too bad, because when it's cooked properly this is a ridiculously decadent burger experience.

                                                                                                                    Another great burger experience is at Farmhouse Cafe. Especially with the addition of a fried egg on top. Very tasty grass-fed beef, doesn't need much in the way of topping, good bread, good fries. Excellent bang for the buck.

                                                                                                                    I also really like the burgers at Ritual Tavern and Linkery. Brandt beef at Ritual, with house-made condiments and locally made Sadie Rose bread. When it's cooked rare, it's really delicious. Their homemade mustard is a nice addition.

                                                                                                                    Linkery's grass-fed beef, fried egg, pineapple slice, house-cured bacon and house-made bread are also really delicious - though this one loses points for being so tall that it's nearly impossible to bite into. I find myself using a knife and fork half the time.

                                                                                                                    To me it's comical to see Rocky's called "best" when burgers like the ones mentioned above exist in this town. That's why I view this as really out of date - back when San Diego was really a culinary backwater, Rocky's probably was the best you could do. Things have changed, and we now have access to much better food in this town.

                                                                                                                    If people want to call me a snob for liking better quality, so be it, but I'll take something made from well-raised beef on locally-made fresh bread over commodity beef and industrially-produced white bread every time.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                      Ah yes, I agree on all your points except the 910 comparing Wagyu to the other burgers. Probably unfair because of the price variance, most all of the other places are relatively similar. I am also in the, 'letting the burger stand on it's own' camp, especially cooked no more than med-rare and not smothered with piles of taste killing goop. I still can't find a place where you can find a great burger and great fries on the same plate.

                                                                                                                      1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                        I believe the burger I had at 910 cost $13. And their fries were awesome. :-)

                                                                                                                        Have you tried the Farmhouse Cafe burger? I liked their fries pretty well.

                                                                                                                      2. re: Josh


                                                                                                                        Had to- not mature enough to resist. My bad.

                                                                                                                        But we can certainly agree there's a line somewhere- here's a handy graphic:

                                                                                                                        Josh-------------------------------------------------------Beach Chick
                                                                                                                                              Fake ^ Name

                                                                                                                        As you can see, I consider myself somewhere in the middle- I can welcome a less-than-perfect culinary effort (think dinner party with good friends) for a positive dining experience. Maybe it's because I'm a mature and well-balanced person. Probably not. But the line exists somewhere- how much are you willing to forgive in culinary effort to have an enjoyable experience. Personally, I draw the line at food safety.

                                                                                                                        Linkery burger, Farmhouse burger all excellent culinary choices.

                                                                                                                        Longhorn, Rocky's Hodad's, Waterfront, Blu Inn all interesting experiences.

                                                                                                                        Ever been thrown out of the Waterfront? I'm so proud.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                          Why am I on the low end of your crude graphic..I want to be where Josh is.. ; )
                                                                                                                          I am one of the biggest Elitist snobs known to man but still a humble Rocky loving burger chicka!

                                                                                                                          You've been thrown out of the Waterfront...Outstanding!

                                                                                                                          1. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                            LOL at the direction this thread has taken and the attempt at the snob graphic by FN. May I point out the pic that is now placed at the bottom of FN's recent posts (just above his avatar). Ahem, "Bouchon". Snob! ;D

                                                                                                                            1. re: foodiechick

                                                                                                                              Not to go completely OT but unfortunately Bouchon (in Yountville and Las Vegas) were very disappointing in the last few visits and so going to Bouchon isn't any longer part of being a snob but just sad ;)

                                                                                                                          2. re: Josh

                                                                                                                            well said. I would add Neighborhood to that list too though. I know some people don't like them but I've never had a bad experience with the Neighborhood Burger.

                                                                                                                          3. re: Fake Name

                                                                                                                            I would only club you with my drumstick!
                                                                                                                            ; )

                                                                                                                          4. re: cookieshoes

                                                                                                                            well said cookieshoes!

                                                                                                                            Now, I am craving a Rocky burger with extra cheese, basket of some those tasty fries and pitcher of PBR!

                                                                                                                            1. re: cookieshoes

                                                                                                                              First of all, I should mention that I don't dislike the burger at Rock's, I found it decent, but far from the best in town. I do appreciate the quirkiness of the place, I actually like the cash only policy, the decor, and the super simple menu. But none of that makes a good burger, IMO. Good meat, bread, cheese, and toppings, and being cooked to the temperature I request, make a good burger, in my opinion.
                                                                                                                              I'm especially stumped by the argument that Rocky's is "local" or "the best burger for San Diegans." Any restaurant in San Diego is "local" to San Diegans. Many local restaurants use Brandt beef, raised in nearby Brawley, and so they are more local than Rocky's. Rocky's also did not offer any local beers, despite being in arguably the best beer brewing town in the world. What exactly is so local about Rocky's?
                                                                                                                              The longevity argument does not sway me at all. McDonald's, Wendy's, and Burger King have all been around a long time and I don't consider those good burgers. I also don't understand how it's "withstood all contenders." Do you mean it is the best simply because it is still in business? Are we arguing about the best burger or simply the establishment that has been open the longest?

                                                                                                                              1. re: Northpark


                                                                                                                                Don't get me wrong, like I said, Rocky's isn't the finest burger I've ever had. But I do think it is the best overall burger in San Diego, and for San Diegans, as corny as that sounds.

                                                                                                                                There are many other burgers out there that are far superior in the prep and ingredients (Urban Solace, Starlite, Kensington Grill, WhisknLadle, etc.), and some that aren't quite as good made in a similar style (Peabody's, Waterfront, Hodad's).

                                                                                                                                So, how/why would I still say that Rocky's has withstood all contenders in town? Because it is still the reference point for burgers in San Diego. Which unfortunately does have a little bit to do with that intangible "why the hell is this so good?" concept.

                                                                                                                                But, the history of a joint in town does matter. How long it's been around does matter. That's how towns get known for their food. Famous restaurants and chefs help make a name. It's the consistency and quality of the food plus the longevity that cements the dish/cuisine. What good is any dish if you can't get it anymore? I loved Cafe Cerise, and that menu was incredible. But now that it's been gone a few years, the place, along with the food, is a distant memory.

                                                                                                                                Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Rocky's is along the lines of "overrated-but-historical" places like the Chicken Pie Shop or Perry's Cafe. I still know bad food when I see/taste it.

                                                                                                                                There will always be a place in town that takes what others would find to be otherwise "normal" dishes, and puts a gourmet spin on them: farm-to-table, all natural, organic. Just as there will always be a mini-chain like Angelo's or a roadstop like Nessy's, the types of places where a few corners are cut in order to churn out as many burgers as possible.

                                                                                                                                Ultimately, the argument for who has the "ultimate" burger is unwinnable, because shootouts always come down to personal taste. But the reference points remain.

                                                                                                                                I am overdoing it a bit, sure. But in San Diego, burgers can be better or worse than Rocky's. But that's because Rocky's is the reference point.

                                                                                                                                1. re: cookieshoes

                                                                                                                                  "But that's because Rocky's is the reference point." - I think this is the sentence most people seems to disagree with you. Just because something is there for a long time doesn't automatically makes it as a reference point.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: honkman

                                                                                                                                    I agree, the years themselves don't. It's the years in business+the food = reputation. There are places that have been around longer that don't get the same amount of credit, for good reason.

                                                                                                                                    Obviously, many will disagree with me on any number of points.

                                                                                                                          1. re: DougOLis

                                                                                                                            I went. It was good. The trouble is that it's pricey for a place in the mall.

                                                                                                                            They do include a nice sized salad with your burger, but when you pop for the fries and add on an organic soda (they don't carry anything non-organic), then your bill for the burger with drink and fries is pushing $14-$15.

                                                                                                                            But it was tasty. I don't know whether or not they're still doing samples outside, but if they are then obviously that's an easy way to check them out. Between this place and a similar place like burger lounge, I think burger lounge probably has the more substantial/cost effective meal.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                Just had a 1/2 pound cheeseburger at Cheer's in Ramona and I see why its voted #1 in SD..so frigging good..got a side of fries..good to split and delicious!

                                                                                                                                1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                  I forgot about that place. It's really good. Bare Back in PB is good as well.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                    Hey BC, glad you made it out this way and enjoyed it. The rings are good too.

                                                                                                                            1. I don't have a dog in this fight because I don't live in San Diego, but...

                                                                                                                              Staying at the Marriott Gaslamp over the weekend and just wanted a take out burger to eat in the room. Most of the steak houses don't advertise burgers, but I saw one on Lou & Mickey's outdoor menu. Went into the bar and ordered one. Holy Moly, it was good! Large patty cooked perfectly medium. Good garnish on it. Held up well on the short walk back to the hotel. I loved it!

                                                                                                                              1. not sure if anyone said it but had nicky rottens sliders this weekend, bacavo (bacon & Avo) style, the burgers were amazing, so juicy and flavorful! A definite rec! (btw, in gaslamp)

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: loreeLB

                                                                                                                                  I ate there once and was not overly impressed. Burger was dry and unseasoned. The cheese tasted like typical processed american cheese. Fries were mediocre as well. Might be good for the gaslamp but I definitely wouldn't go out of my way.

                                                                                                                                2. Five Guys Burgers! soon to be opening a location at Liberty Station Pt. Loma 2445 Truxton Rd San Diego, CA 92106.

                                                                                                                                  17 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: DevDogsMom

                                                                                                                                    From their site:

                                                                                                                                    "Q: Why does Five Guys only serve burgers cooked well done?

                                                                                                                                    A: By cooking all of our burgers juicy and well done we are able to achieve two goals.

                                                                                                                                    Ensure a consistent product
                                                                                                                                    Meet or exceed health code standards for ground beef"

                                                                                                                                    Sounds dreadful. It can't be both juicy AND well-done.

                                                                                                                                    Maybe if they didn't use CAFO ground beef they could cook a burger properly. Another burger place not worth caring about.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                      "Q: Why does Five Guys only serve burgers cooked well done?
                                                                                                                                      A: By cooking all of our burgers juicy and well done we are able to achieve two goals."

                                                                                                                                      What kind of restaurant has a marketing plan for a burger place that only serve burgers cooked well done?
                                                                                                                                      A failed one..

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                        I've seen them in the BOS area, it's like a cult following. Doneness, not grass fed, whatever, it doesn't matter this chain is moving in on the 'fast food burger' market. Personally, I'll take a locally made burger anyday over a chain.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                                          try the Cowboy Star burger with an anaheim pepper and maybe add some bacon as well...

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                          Isn't this how In n' Out Burger cooks their burgers?

                                                                                                                                          1. re: sdnosh

                                                                                                                                            Yes, I think all fast food burgers (except Burger Lounge) cook them well-done.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                              I don't regard BL as fast food.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                                                why not? I usually can get a burger delivered to me there faster than any In N Out. The type of beef may be different, but aren't the ingredients prepared in similar ways?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: MrKrispy

                                                                                                                                                  OK, I'll buy that, I guess I was thinking of Golden Arches and a drive-thru to be fast food.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MrKrispy

                                                                                                                                                    Burger Lounge is more of a fast casual restaurant than fast food.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Josh

                                                                                                                                                  This is sort of an aside, but I think I know how to make Josh's head implode:

                                                                                                                                                  I suggest the hamburger at the Cheesecake Factory.

                                                                                                                                                3. re: sdnosh

                                                                                                                                                  Mea culpa..
                                                                                                                                                  I didn't realize 5 guys was more of a fast food establishment vs. other designated burger establishments that use higher grades of beef and let you order your burger your way, then their way.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sdnosh

                                                                                                                                                    You can request doneness at In-N-Out, always medium-rare for me...

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                    Mea culpa to Five Guys and wishing only the best..
                                                                                                                                                    I do agree with Josh that it can't be both juicy and well-done!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                      Seriously, this is the marketing plan? Consistent crappiness?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Dagney

                                                                                                                                                        I'll give you that point about marketing, they're a smartly and successfully run business. On the food side, I've heard a lot of raves about their fries, will definately try them out.

                                                                                                                                                4. was just in La Jolla yesterday and smash burger has already started construction on there location. The address is 1000 prospect it's next to the living room. They are stating a spring opening on there web site.

                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: SDGourmand

                                                                                                                                                    What are we (SD) becoming, the largest per/sq.ft. burger concentration in the US?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                                                      Not even close to most Midwestern bergs.

                                                                                                                                                  2. Danny's Palm Bar and Grill on Coronado makes a great one, their "Slamburger." Had a few when I visited SD last year.

                                                                                                                                                    1. I don't eat many Hamburger especially in restaurants but recently had three different ones at Urban Solace, Alchemy and Starlite:

                                                                                                                                                      Urban Solace - good but at bit dry. I liked that you could add some mushrooms, avocado, bacon. Nice sweet potato fries. Overall the weakest of all three

                                                                                                                                                      Alchemy - Better seasoned meat than US, not as dry. Good parmesan fries. 2. Place

                                                                                                                                                      Starlite - Wow. The simplest one but by far the best. Perfect cooked hamburger (med-rare). By far the bets brioche. Simple but good fries.

                                                                                                                                                      1. This is a pretty cool infographic showing the strength of burger chains across the country: http://www.weathersealed.com/2010/02/...

                                                                                                                                                        1. Finally got by Starlite and IMHO, this is by far the best burger I have had in SD.
                                                                                                                                                          I have been in the Rocky's camp and for a cheap, quick burger, still have it up there.
                                                                                                                                                          Have not been a huge fan of the Burger Lounge, but have only been there a couple of times and some have suggested that it is spotty and I have just not been there when it was on target. ???? That's possible but I don't really care much.

                                                                                                                                                          Starlite is expensive but they use natural Brandt beef and it is very tasty and has a wonderful texture to it. Bun is great too.

                                                                                                                                                          1. At the risk of stirring up some board passions, I have to nominate the unmentioned Station Tavern in South Park for this honor. Went last night for the second time and it was fantastic. Cooked to medium rare (maybe on the medium side), topped with L and T, and I added some caramelized onions. Delicious, juicy, and full of beefy flavor. Their meat is fresh ground (in house?) as well. Nice to see a place that just does one thing and *does it well*.

                                                                                                                                                            Beer selection is pretty good, not huge but some nice beers, including a few I had never had before. Tried both the sweet potato fries and the garlic fries. The SP ones didn't have too much SP flavor, I prefer the ones at e.g. Urban Solace. The garlic fries were well cooked and pretty good as fries, but not too much garlic flavor either -- the ones at O'Briens are better.

                                                                                                                                                            Overall, I think I give it my personal best burger in San Diego (compared to Ritual, Rocky's, Tioli's, Alchemy, Bare Back Grill, Hodad's, and a few others -- haven't tried the ones from Starlite or the Pearl yet though).

                                                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mayache

                                                                                                                                                              This is a good pot-stirring-recommendation!

                                                                                                                                                              I find Station Tavern's black bean burger is my favorite of San Diego. It is perfectly spicy and not too dry. It's surpassed Neighborhood's burger.

                                                                                                                                                              Now if they decide to offer Fat Tire draft, I may be a permanant fixture on that bar stool.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: globocity

                                                                                                                                                                Both of the Station's veggie burgers are some of the best San Diego has to offer. Actually never tried a regular burger there now that I think of it...

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: globocity

                                                                                                                                                                  Well Smashburger, in LJ, didn't wait long after opening, in honor of burger month they're offering free smashfries with a smashburger. One stir of the pot thanks! Not that it even comes close to any of the places you mentioned in your post.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                                                                    Just went to Smashburger yesterday. Big thumbs up for the chocolate shake but the burgers were over-seasoned and very finely ground making for an odd mouth feel. 100% natural Angus...whatever. Haystack onions underdone and way greasy. Will not go back!

                                                                                                                                                              2. Try Encinitas Ale House. Great, juicy, beefy tasting burgers.

                                                                                                                                                                1. The Counter (Del Mar & Carlsbad).

                                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                                                                                    This has been quiet for a while.

                                                                                                                                                                    Fleming's, Morton's, McCormick & Schmick's, Dobson's have nice Happy Hour or Bar Menu offerings and Cowboy Star has a good burger at lunch.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: scottca075

                                                                                                                                                                      I just had a burger that I would cite as easily one of San Diego's best, if not the best.

                                                                                                                                                                      Sea Rocket Bistro. It's very thick, but smaller than you'd expect in diameter, perfectly cooked, and topped with bacon jam. Really good.

                                                                                                                                                                      Sea Rocket Bistro
                                                                                                                                                                      3382 30th St, San Diego, CA 92104

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ibstatguy


                                                                                                                                                                          New chef. Big improvement.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: scottca075

                                                                                                                                                                        I second Cowboy Star--we just got back from SD and hit it up for lunch on a friend's recommendation. I had the bison burger and it was delicious, and my husband enjoyed his grass-fed burger. Good fries, too.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. The new dog in the hunt is Bergies in Old Town. I've not yet been but their beef is grass-fed, but not organic.

                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                                                                          after this thread got bumped I figure I should make a note that both Sea Rocket and Bergies are closed down.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Has anyone thrown JFAT into the mix here? Jimmy's Famous American Tavern has a couple of GREAT burgers!

                                                                                                                                                                        Jimmy's Famous American Tavern
                                                                                                                                                                        4990 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92106

                                                                                                                                                                        1. Wanted to see if I could get some updated feedback on the best burger in San Diego.

                                                                                                                                                                          Doing a 'best burger' round up article and would love some updated feedback on where to find the best burgers in town.

                                                                                                                                                                          12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: alexa52

                                                                                                                                                                            It always depend on your key criteria(s) for a good burger but for me it is grassfed beef to get the best beef flavor and so the best burger in SD is still Alchemy with Burger Lounge as a second

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                                                                                                                Haven't been to Cheer's, and never had a burger at Dobson's (for whatever reasons), but the burger at Luce -- cooked rare -- is really excellent and continues to be my personal favorite.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DoctorChow

                                                                                                                                                                                  OK. Now I gotta go try the Luce burger.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foodiechick

                                                                                                                                                                                    Try it first without the aioli (which is served on the side - I use it as a dip for the fries), and whatever you do, don't put the provided ketchup on it.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: alexa52

                                                                                                                                                                                Excellent burgers at Sea & Smoke, and JRDN at Tower 23.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: alexa52

                                                                                                                                                                                  The Ritual Tavern in North park has a respectable burger. They even make their own ketchup! As for the 'best' that is totally subjective. I for one, being a mere mortal can only speak for my personal taste.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: RB Hound

                                                                                                                                                                                      What a tragedy, the owners are real hard working folks. Hope they get the scum that did this.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: alexa52

                                                                                                                                                                                    I would agree with the esteemed Honkman in principle on personal criteria and his elevation of grass fed beef. Accordingly my short list is catagory based:
                                                                                                                                                                                    Fast food: In N Out
                                                                                                                                                                                    Gourmet Quick Serve: Burger Lounge
                                                                                                                                                                                    Burger Joint: Hodads
                                                                                                                                                                                    Restaurant: Starlite & Cowboy Star for Beef, Tractor Room for lamb

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Is Beau Bo worth a trip for an amazing burger? Trying to hone in my list!