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"Ungourmet" burgers ...

  • d

I appreciate the thread on "gourmet burgers". Here's a bigger challenge. I am looking for old-fashioned "greasy spoon" burgers ... cooked on a grill, but with quality meat/ingredients. The best example I can think of was a place on Whiskey Gulch in Palo Alto years ago, called Jerry's Burgers, I think. Terrific fried burgers, buns buttered and also thrown on the grill, melt in your mouth with an accompanying basket of delicious fries, cooked in god-knows-what. Any ideas? Thanks ....

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  1. a
    Andy Copeland

    Joe's Cable Car. Simply done, but a great burger. They grind their own fresh chuck, know how to grill a burger, and do so accordingly.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Andy Copeland

      I wanted to say Joe's Cable Car, but didn't know if that fell into gourmet or ungourmet territory. Also, Big Mouth Burgers on 24th near Valencia has great burgers (they are being forced to change their name due to a cease-and-desist order from Chili's - new name will be Mega Mouth). One of their side dishes is a nice homemade preparation of beans (not sweet). The owner is an incredibly nice guy to boot.

      1. re: Andy Copeland

        Al's Giant Burgers on San Pablo in El Cerrito are really good.

        1. re: ernie

          Al's been slipping over the last few years for me. Stopped going and frequent Pup Hut in Richmond on SP Avenue. Bought and run by the Fry Guy from Al's and the menu/food is what Al's used to be 10 years ago. FANTASTIC !!!

      2. p
        Pius Avocado III

        Mike's at the Yard, Petaluma (2nd loc. in Cotati).

        Link: http://www.mikesburgers.com/

        1. Phyllis' Giant Burger on 4th Street in San Rafael. Burgers should come with a roll of Bounty paper towels. Oh, so good. Great fries. Also serves a great turkey burger.

          J T

          1. I also enjoy Val's in Hayward - on Kelly Street

            1. How about Oscar's on Shattuck/Hearst in Berkeley? That's as no-frills as you can get, and the burger is decent (though I wouldn't make a special trip for it)

              1. Further south:

                Clarke's in Mountain View
                Kirks in Cupertino
                Classic Burgers of Los Gatos
                Wallie's Drive-In in Tracy...

                1. If you're in the East Bay, you should try the Smokehouse on Telegraph a few blocks south of Ashby. (If you're anywhere near it, just follow the smell.) It's a pure example of what it is and always packed with neighborhood kids, Cal students, Emergency Medical Technicians, senior citizens, families, police officers - a great slice of Berkeley life.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mcchowhound

                    I second Smokehouse...great satisfying greasy burgers with fries, just as requested in the OP.

                  2. m
                    Morton the Mousse

                    The Patio in Berkeley is great. No nonsense burgers and an excellent selection of beers, both on tap and by the bottle. They're closed for repairs but per a recent post intend to reopen within the next month or so. Watch the board for updates.

                    Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                    1. I really enjoyed my burger at Ted's Sports Bar and Grill on 7th and Harrison in SF. Just a burger, but the meat is ground fresh for each burger and the buns were tasty. Very cheap too. IIRC, 2 burgers and 2 beers are less than $17, so $20 with tip.

                      1. I had a pretty good burger yesterday at The Ramp in SF. They had a good selection of beers and the bloody mary was pretty good too.

                        1. I'll give you the same answer I gave for the gourmet burger thread...

                          Phyllis' Giant Burgers, 2202 4th St (on the "Miracle Mile"), San Rafael. Certainly the place isn't gourmet; it's a very small burger joint. But they've been turning out great burgers for quite a while. They'll fix yours to your desired degree of doneness and they'll include grilled onions instead of raw if you ask.

                          1. You want the Burger Joint on Valencia & 19th. st.:
                            Niman Ranch beef, a loaded big ole bun - all cooked to order with plenty of great fries, all for about $6. Great comfy booths, good music, friendly staff, clean. What more could you ask for? When I don't want to cook my own burger, this is where I'm headed.

                            1. Darla's on Irving in SF makes a really good burger for under $5. They understand what "medium rare" means too.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: Melanie Wong
                                Zach Georgopoulos

                                Ohh -- that is a good place! I'd forgotten all about it. Must head over there soon...

                                1. re: Zach Georgopoulos

                                  Of the plain, cheeseburger, and patty melt, the patty melt was my favorite format. Good fries too.

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                    and cheap beer on mondays and wednesdays.

                                    1. re: ed

                                      My mother was happy with the complimentary brownie offered at the end of lunch . . . don't know if everyone gets this. Good service too.

                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                        Yeah, brownie always with the burger. Actually I like the brownie more than the burger. Nice outdoor patio area though. I like Darla's motto "Possibly the best burger around". I like the qualifier. Truth in advertising.

                                        The link below has a great review of Darla's with pictures of restaurant, patio, brownie and burger. Actually very close up and intimate pictures of the burger cut in half. Looking pretty good. I think my problem with Darla's was the sourdough roll.

                                        Nice people too. Now that the shock of sourdough is over, Darla's is looking really appealing.

                                        Citysearch also says:

                                        "Darla's cooks an array of comfort foods from chicken fried steak to fish and chips, to breakfast items such as homemade corn beef hash, crab benedicts and fabulous omleletes"


                                        Link: http://www.jatbar.com/detail.asp?num=496

                                        1. re: rworange

                                          The bun is more of a French roll, light and airy enough for the oldsters to bite through but still holding all the burger's juices without falling apart. If it's sourdough, it's pretty muted. Here's my own photo of the bacon/cheese burger in the foreground and the patty melt in the back. Medium-rare. The salad substituted for fries was nice and fresh, although my mother complained that the carrots and cucumbers were cut too thickly. She does remember the free brownie though, and perks to the Darla's sign when we drive by -- "there's that good burger place with the free brownie". She loves free stuff. The one server was nice as can be even during a busy lunch hour communicating with the cooks in Spanish, setting tables, serving up food, and holding the door open for us when I wheeled my dad out.

                                          Image: http://home.earthlink.net/~melaniewon...

                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                            Absolutely unfair to post pix like these when I'm staring at some leftover carryout that wasn't much good to start with!

                              2. z
                                Zach Georgopoulos

                                The Dutch Goose in Menlo Park comes to mind for me when I think of good, basic, greasy burgers. That you have to wade through a floor full of peanut shells to order is an extra, added plus...

                                Searching the web for the address, I came across a recent story about the place (see link). Hopefully the place won't change much.

                                In SF, my favorite basic burger is still Original Joe's.

                                Link: http://www.almanacnews.com/morgue/200...

                                1. I'm surprised no one mentioned Bullshead Restaurant in West Portal - meat, bun, chargrill. For me it is still the best basic burger in the Bay Area.

                                  I like Clark's in Sunnyvale very much too.

                                  Then there's that place on John Daly Blvd in the mall, the name is escaping me. Next to Pizza Hut and Baskin Robbins.

                                  I've never been there, but usually someone mentions the burger place on the same street as North Beach Pizza in North Beach.

                                  Link: http://sanfrancisco.citysearch.com/pr...

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: rworange

                                    You're so right! I've been meaning to plug Bull's Head for quite a while. I love that place! What a fine burger! And you get your choice, all fresh ground, of buffalo, organic beef, or chuck.

                                    I was waiting for the bargain matinee at the Empire to start a few months ago and decided to walk the length of West Portal collecting take-out menus and scouting future meal locations. When I passed Bull's Head, right outside the tunnel, I was immediately riveted by the sight of a truck unloading tons of fresh potatoes. This could only have meant two things: they make their own french fries, and they're very popular. A look inside the window revealed a butcher case filled with steaks and fresh looking hand formed burgers.

                                    It's certainly not fancy, just an old-school neighborhood place. But the back area is kind of secluded if you want to talk. The chefs and the waitresses are friendly and responsive. I had a nice chat with the chef about deep-frying tachniques.

                                    This is a great place for a superior burger and fresh-cut fries. And for 75 cents more you can get a lot of buttery sauteed mushrooms with your burger. The only other thing I've eaten there was a club sand., which was great. But I'd venture to guess, because of the chefs running such a tight ship (I've frequently seen them delivering orders themselves - though it hardly seemed necessary because the place wasn't crowded - and discretely checking eaters' contentment level) that whatever else they cook - it's going to be good.

                                    1. re: Niki Rothman

                                      Great description of Bullshead. I forgot about the great fries. I think you can get a number of different type of cheese too like blue, but, for me, this is just so all American burger classic, I never want to play with the toppings.

                                      That being said, reading through the citysearch users reviews someone mentioned a sauteeed garlic burger with almost a whole head of garlic ... or so the review said. The garlic would cut all that cholesterol, right?

                                      Actually all the reviews of Bullshead on citysearch were raves except one and I'm not sure if that person actually ate there. I don't recall the place having fillet mignon and, if they do have soup, well, it's a burger joint.

                                      Link: http://sanfrancisco.citysearch.com/re...

                                      1. re: rworange

                                        They have several different steaks on offer, and some in the butcher case look dry aged. I think the steaks may be about $15. They feature them on a dinner deal too, available all the time. Yes, I think there are a few unusual cheese selections for the burger - actually there are a bunch of slightly eccentric choices in all the categories on their menu. It's an interesting place.
                                        The chef told me, "Always fry with corn oil, and always fry at 375 degrees"
                                        Let that be a lesson for us all...

                                    2. re: rworange

                                      Sliders? Nations?

                                      1. re: Niki Rothman

                                        Sliders, I think. Next to Walgreens or that large drug store in that mall. Yeah, no one should go there. It is obvious I haven't been in this neck of the woods in a while.

                                    3. Damn, Shep, how could you forget? The gentle couple who run the Burger Orchard, in Alameda, will put a great cooked-to-order 1/3-lb patty in a basket with hand-sliced fried potatoes, and you can eat it gazing out the big front windows at the little houses across the street. Burgers is pretty much all they do, and they do burgers right. Attached to the Encinal Market, at Encinal and High Street. Check out the butcher in the market after you dine--good quality meats and deli.

                                      1. Bill's Place is pretty good. It's a diner that grinds their own meat.

                                        Bill's Place
                                        2315 Clement St
                                        San Francisco, CA 94121
                                        (415) 221-5262

                                        1. I would have to agree with the Dutch Goose recommendation below. Go with a friend, get a couple burgers, split an order of their steamed clams and a pitcher of beer. Great meal.

                                          And along those lines, I would absolutely say that one of my favorite burgers in the Bay Area is the double cheese burger on an onion roll from the Oasis in Menlo Park.