HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


best burger in Palo Alto?

  • d

I'm looking for the best burger in Palo Alto or the surrounding areas. Is the burger at Sundance Steakhouse any good?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I don't have any personal experience with any of these except for the creamery, but the places that seem to be mentioned the most for good burgers in the area seem to be The Counter (pricey? bad service?), Peninsula Creamery (great shakes), Jeffrey's and Kirk's (not what it used to be?).

    1. Village pub in Woodside ( pricey but if you go about 5 30 and eat at the bar you can get in without reservations) . for just fun burger like bacon blue cheese, try Bucks in Woodside

      1. I like The Counter though not as much as Taylor's Refresher. For a less expensive option, I prefer Taxi's over Kirk's or Jeffrey's (haven't had Peninsula Creamery). Ooh, just remembered the burger I had recently at Dutch Goose in Menlo Park...not bad. I've also heard The Oasis burger is good. Took the kids there once during off hours to try it out, but they didn't care for the divey atmosphere & we left. Perhaps there are families with kids there during normal hours (like Dutch Goose)?

        1. Kirk's, in my humble opinion, has never been the same after the move to Town & Country. Dry, overdone burger consistently.

          Have never been able to elbow my way in to try the Counter -- which is probably a good sign.

          One venerable operation that seems to have survived a move pretty well: The Old Pro, which is now where the sainted Ramona's used to be (I'm dating myself). Expensive burger. Satisfying.

          Don't overlook Menlo Park in your quest. I'm not a fan of the Goose or Brix, but there are at least a couple others you might want to check out -- including the new place (name?) that opened in the ill-fated location of Ken's House of Pancakes (dating myself again) .... after the ill-fated fish restaurant, after the ill-fated steakhouse, etc.

          Good luck. Please remember to report back with full details

          Sushi Monster

          5 Replies
          1. re: Sushi Monster

            Jeffrey's Hamburgers, also in San Mateo...

            1. re: cbepicure

              Jefferey's has another output on the menlo park / palo alto border. The burgers are quick and satisfying, but not up to the quality of Peninsula Creamery - it's an excellent fast food burger, but a below average restaurant burger.

              Otherwise, I'm in agreement with the rest of the posts. The usual suspects, and getting a burger at sundance would be interesting. I go there when I'm in the mood for a new york strip and a martini, so couldn't tell you about the burgers.

              1. re: bbulkow

                I would have to disagree here- I would consider Jeffrey's above average restaurant quality burger, but most likely it would depend on what is considered an average restaurant.

                1. re: P. Punko

                  Disagreement is reasonable - what peninsula burgers would you compare it against? How is Jeffery's superior, in your view?

                  1. re: bbulkow

                    Oh bb,

                    My point was just that I was thinking "average restaurant" covers hundreds of places that never even get a mention on chowhound because they are nothing special, or for most of america, some sort of chain restaurant where the majority or non-fast food burgers are probably eaten. Given all of those unmentioned places, I would consider Jeffrey's pretty good. See my comment below for my feelings on peninsula burgers.

          2. Peninsula Creamery has the best burger I've tried around Palo Alto.

            The Counter is fun, but a little more concept than quality. They have dozens of items you can choose to put on your burger including some unexpected choices. Fun to experiment with different flavor combos, but there is no way they can have such a massive array of ingredients and keep it all fresh, so the quality is a notch below PC, but both are worth trying.

            1. places where i have eaten burgers many times and enjoyed them:
              alpine beer garden
              the oasis
              gordon biersch
              university cafe

              shamefully stuck on themself overpriced place that i really hate and dont recommend:
              pennisula creamery

              1 Reply
              1. re: elduderino

                I have to chime in in favor of the Oasis burger- it's my longstanding favorite, and not just in South Bay area, anywhere. It's a low-end burger (no artisanal ketchup or hand ground beef or fancy cheese), but the proportions are perfect, the sauce & other toppings are delicious, perfect level of juiciness, and consistent, as in- for the 30 years or so I've been going there I've can't remember ever being disappointed.

                241 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025

              2. I've had terrible fries at Peninsula (like they'd only been fried once). I've been told this is an aberration. I like Kirk's flavor somewhat, but I'm an uncultured Philistine- I order medium well. Jeffrey's serves a much juicier medium well (the juciest medium well I've ever had), with good flavor, but a little more subtle, or less seasoned than Kirk's. Jeffrey's is very clean and new, but busy and quite loud. Brix gives you a pretty dry burger, not sure they grind their own patties, but more charcoal flavor than the others. I can handle this because I get it with bacon and do mayo and ketchup. I haven't been to Oasis (too loud the night we tried to go). Taxi's seemed greasy and dry at the same time, had more of a packed together texture, unlike Jeffrey's and Kirk's, which really feel like freshly ground and formed patties. Nobody has a bun to write home about. Jeffrey's, Kirk's and Brix (like Clarke's in Mountain View) are all add fixin's yourself, though some may come with just tomato to begin with (maybe Brix?). These four places are very similar in terms of the style of burger and the types of toppings they'll have at the topping bar. Would it kill them to upscale the pickles? Oh, a note about Jeffrey's- if you order a cheeseburger, it is a veritable slab of cheese, so be prepared.


                Yes I think Peninsula is overpriced for what it is, and Gordon Biersch does have the style of fries that I enjoy. I would enjoy them better if they were served at Clarke's or Jeffrey's.

                Clarke's Charcoal Broiler
                615 W El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040

                Kirk's Steakburgers
                855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                Jeffrey's Hamburgers
                888 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                Taxi's Hamburgers
                403 University Ave, Palo Alto, CA

                Brix BBQ
                1246 El, Camino Real Menlo Park, CA

                241 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                The Counter
                369 California Avenue, Palo Alto, CA

                2 Replies
                1. re: P. Punko

                  Could you give us a summary of the pattie thickness at all of these places? Which are thin fast food style and which are thick hand-formed style?

                  1. re: Humbucker

                    Most of these places I would consider 1/3 lb burgers. If you consider hand-formed to be the super thick meatwad- almost meatball shaped, then none of these places have that. The thickness on most is like 3/5ths of an inch to just under an inch thick after cooking I guess? They are flat patties, but a decent amount of meat, so thicker than a McDonald's quarter pouder for sure an way thicker than an In and Out. I'm not familiar with anyplace that does the wad style around here. I definitely don't prefer it because most likely the places I have gone that do it probably are not making the best burgers to begin with. I'm looking at you, Mr. Bartleys in Harvard Square.

                2. Peninsula Creamery uses Nieman Ranch beef and the burgers are on the dry and crumbly side. People are either fans or not of NR. For stuff that requires good old fashion fat -- I don't like NR. All their sausage products suffer the same fate. It's not a bad burger...it's just not that great. Peninsula is a nice place however so you're not going just for the burger.

                  Just for the burger, I think Kirk's is good...but the new place across from Stanfurd lacks the scary charm of the old place...and perhaps the grease. I thought they changed buns too.

                  1. i like my burger medium rare and very juicy. my ranking for the palo alto area is
                    1) jeffreys
                    2) creamery
                    3) oasis
                    4) kirk's (dry but good flavor).

                    at the very bottom are the counter and taxis. i've never been able to get the counter to do anything close to a medium, and very often, by the time i get the burger it's not even very warm. taxis uses thin, premade frozen patties. absolutely gross.

                    jeffrey's cooks to order (if i ask for medium rare, i actually get it) and has good toppings. i also like their fries better than those at the creamery. the creamery has great meat, very juicy, but it's hard for me to see any bright pink in the meat when i order from them.

                    1. I have eaten at taxis at least a dozen times and think their burgers are pretty bad. But the kids love it so I take them there. I took them to Kirk's once and it was no better than taxis and the atmosphere is not as nice. At at The Counter once and it was too crowded and the burger was ok but not great.

                      If you make it to the city, one place with great burgers is Big Mouth Burger in the mission (24th near Valencia). Great burgers.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: atjsfo

                        Hey atj-
                        Describe for the audience what you like in a burger so everyone can know what you look for, then they'll understand where you are coming from a little bit more.

                        1. re: P. Punko

                          HI P. Punko,

                          What I like in a burger: thick and juicy, with decent cheese (preferably cheddar, but jack is ok); The cheese should be melted; many places take the burger off the grill immediately after adding the cheese and it doesn't melt much; Also the bun should be soft and not overwhelm the burger (ie, a kaiser roll is inappropriate). And I very much prefer one large patty instead of two smaller patties; Somehow when there are two patties the burger often has a greasy feel. This is my complaint with In and Out burger. The cheeseburger (single) there has a bad meat to bun ratio and the double double is too greasy. Maybe it's the american cheese too; Maybe I should try a double single.

                          Taxis always seem dried out to me; frankly I'm surprised anyone likes them, I don't understand the attraction. Big Mouth burgers are consistently juicy and the cheddar is very nice, a little bit of sharpness, and the meat to bun ratio is great.

                          1. re: atjsfo

                            Jeffrey's melts the cheese like that, and it is cheddar. I'm not a fan of cheese myself and I like thinner burgers if the meat isn't gonna be awesome. In and Out is about the perfectly griddle toasted bun and the special sauce- it is a different beast- there are just so man kinds of burgers, I think of them all as different variations on a theme.

                      2. Someone please unconfuse me about the Peninsula Creamery and Palo Alto Creamery. Are they both similar long-time Palo Alto places? Are they related? I've been told that people say "Peninsula Creamery" when they're actually referring to the Palo Alto Creamery, or is it the other way around. Whew...

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Mick Ruthven

                          The Old Peninsula on Emerson inside has "Palo Alto Creamery" everywhere (but the sign says Peninsula above the door). There is another place called "Peninsula Creamery and Dairy Store" a couple of blocks away on High Street. The bad service, 10 dollar burger place most people talk about is the one on Emerson (Palo Alto Creamery), and has a location in the Stanford Shopping Center. I haven't been to the Dairy Store (not related).


                          1. re: P. Punko

                            >The bad service, 10 dollar burger place most people talk about is the one on Emerson (Palo Alto Creamery), and has a location in the Stanford Shopping Center.<

                            You mean that the several mentions in this thread of "Peninsula Creamery" are referring to the place on Emerson that displays, variously, "Old Peninsula" and "Palo Alto Creamery"?

                        2. I like the burgers at Joanie's Cafe - a few doors down from The Counter in Palo Alto. Better tasting - and much price. Try the British Burget - comes with cheese, bacon and avocado - plus it includes fries (or you can substitute the soup of the day, green salad,...)

                          They are very flexible... They say that they don't do medium rare - but I always ask for it and seem to get it anyway...

                          1. Just got back from the Counter in Palo Alto tonight -- a spur-of-the-moment second trip to see if first impressions held.

                            The good:

                            They really will do a true medium rare burger -- much more red than brown -- provided you make that request explicitly clear on the order form. Not sure if they'll do a true rare (ie: bleeding).

                            Many of the places in this discussion are serve-yourself operations. The Counter's young servers seem to be on top of the game, even at the height of the dinner rush.

                            The not-so-good:

                            This is a miserable space for eating anything. Over-bright. Louder than bombs. Tables crammed together. About as comfortable as trying to eat a decent meal on an NYC subway car.

                            It's all about the meat quality -- and the quality here is just mediocre. Not bad. But totally forgettable. The medium sized burger (2/3 lb) is a decent portion, but the flavor's just not there.

                            Don't go to hog-wild on all the options and add ons. There could be a heap of regret on that plate when you finally see what a big burger with aoili, two cheeses, olives, pickles, grilled peppers, sauteed mushrooms, etc really looks like. Yes, they say 4 toppings are the default standard -- but there's no rule that says that you must have a burger that looks like a supermarket shopping-cart collision.

                            Fries are mediocre at best.

                            Two burgers, one fries order and two pints of Sam Adams totaled out at $43.20 (including my customary 20 percent tip).

                            For me, the Counter is now well down my list -- but not off it. I'd do Clark's again before I do the Counter. My best burger is still the British Burger at the Canyon Inn on Oak Knoll at Canyon in Redwood City. Kirk's and Brix are both off my list indefinitely until they hire someone who knows how to cook a juicy burger (hint: it's the fat content + the grill temp guys...)

                            OK. End of rant. Back to my assigned seat (the one marked "nigiri sushi, traditional")

                            Sushi Monster

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Sushi Monster

                              I don't think Brix is long for this world. They seemed closed the other day driving by- it was just after 5 on a Saturday. Maybe they are closed for the holidays, but with the business Jeffrey's does just down the road, I'm not confident. Even if I don't like a too much, I don't like to watch the slow demise.

                              Kirk's just needs to use less trimmed beef. I like the taste of their burger- it has a beefiness, but it isn't really juicy, (agreeing with the above).

                            2. Palo Alto sucks. Just saying. That said, the Counter's okay, the yuppie Creamery and Kirks are a level below.

                              The Treehouse at Stanford was suprisingly okay (price taken into account), but I haven't been there for a while.

                              And, I might even go so far as to say Chili's might not be a bad choice, all things considered.

                              1. So can anyone confirm that Brix on El Camino in Menlo Park has shut down? It's been closed the last two times I cruised by -- at times when it would normally have been open. Maybe the competitve pressure of Jeffrey's two blocks south was the last straw. Personally, I won't miss it. A dry burger and a Clarks'-sized pricetag.

                                Sushi Monster

                                1. The Counter has far and away, the worst service I've ever experienced at a restaurant. And for the price, the food is definitely not worth it and way overpriced. Go with Jeffrey's. Their service and food are great.

                                  1. I am consistently boggled by the good reviews Jeffry's gets. Sure the burgers don't suck, but they aren't great either. The meat seems to be a basic frozen patty, with good toppings and a lot of cheese, and they cook it so it remains juicy. Sure I like eating there, but its not great.

                                    I have been to the counter once, about 2 weeks ago. Hands down the best burger I ever had. I had the 1lb burger with red onions, caramelized onions, a orange fennel slaw, jalapenos, ham, bacon, fried egg, cheddar cheese with a spicy sour cream dressing. With all the toppings listed you might think the burger would be overwhelmed, but the hand formed slab of 1lb of meat(after cooking) stood up and dominated the flavors. The meat was juicy and well seasoned, much better than anything outside of a home cooked burger.

                                    I ordered a side of Parmesan fries and sweet baby jesus they were awesome. The fries were okay, basic skinny fries, but man Parmesan cheese is an awesome match. Next time I whip out my deep fryer I am making some Parmesan fries.

                                    I'd like to go back, but the burger, fries, a coke, and another 1lb burger put me back $50 after tip. I actually had good service but I went a little bit after the lunch rush the wait was only about 5 minutes.

                                    1. Jeffreys Hamburgers, yum! Excellent juicy burgers. Also Marvin Gardens in Belmont, but partly cuz their fries are incredible.

                                      Marvin Gardens
                                      1160 Old County Rd, Belmont, CA

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: Woody007

                                        Better than Peninsula Creamery? I think not!

                                        Peninsula Creamery
                                        900 High St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                        1. re: Woody007

                                          Better to sit in the back, outdoor area of Marvin Gardens. The inside has an odd smell that reminds me of mold and chemicals. Burgers are okay, not anything too memorable, but decent for a watering hole.

                                          Marvin Gardens
                                          1160 Old County Rd, Belmont, CA

                                          1. re: Woody007

                                            Eh, I'm not sure why people like Marvin Gardens - yeah, the environment is divey but the food is just blah. I much prefer the burgers at Ausiello's Tavern on El Camino - no patio, but at least the food tastes good.

                                            Marvin Gardens
                                            1160 Old County Rd, Belmont, CA

                                            1. re: alina555

                                              For my outdoor burgers, I've been going to British Banker Club more and more. That neighborhood only really works if you're already there, the freeway access is poor.

                                              1. re: bbulkow

                                                I used to go there but the food slipped. Haven't been in a couple of years, has it changed?

                                                1. re: Shane Greenwood

                                                  Yes. They've gone through a massive Renaissance about a year ago. It's now pretty tasty - and the beer selection!

                                          2. When I want a burger in the Palo Alto area, I go to the California Cafe in the Barn on the Stanford Campus. I rarely go anywhere else for a burger. Right up there with the Village Pub, if not better.

                                            Village Pub
                                            2967 Woodside Rd., Woodside, CA 94062

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: bobgh

                                              Some people like the burger at Tootsie's too. It's a little bit of an interpretation because it's a blend of pork, beef and veal. But it was good and the housemade chips are tasty. Not my personal favorite, but I can appreciate the appeal.

                                            2. Hands down, Marche on Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park. Go for lunch or go for dinner, it's the same price. For $14.00, you will be served a juicy and thick burger perfectly cooked on a homemade roll topped with onion and bacon marmalade, alongside a cone of scrumptious twice-fried pommes frites. To put you over the edge, a bernaise dipping sauce accompanies the fries. The service and ambience are worthy of a fine dining experience and if that's possible to have with a burger, this is the place to have it - no contest.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: buoncibo

                                                Marche really doesn't get much coverage. Are reservations required? Is there a little bar one can just have a burger at?

                                                1. re: bbulkow

                                                  Marche closed on March 26, 2011.