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Feb 6, 2008 01:30 PM

"Neighborhood" San Diego

Tried this place today for lunch at 8th & G; went with a friend in the restaurant biz. 3 of us shared grilled cheese sand & tomato bisque, sweet potato fries, the neighborhood burger, jalapeno mac n cheese. They have a great line up of beer on tap including Chimay. Would go back; that said, the grilled cheese could have used a bit more cheese (for my likes) and the mac n cheese was not nearly as good as (IMO) as that just up the street at Chloe. Very fair prices and generous portions.

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  1. i was wondering when a post would pop up on this place. AMAZING burgers. copy of father's office in santa monica. but hell, i'm happy to drive downtown vs. 100 miles north to hell-A for a burger this good. service and inventory issues though. we've been 4 times, but only been able to eat 2 out of those 4 times. one sunday they wouldn't serve their burgers because they ran out of their special buns. they didn't tell us this when we phoned ahead to give a heads up we were coming with a party of 10. and the server didn't tell us no burgers until we all ordered wine and beer. ugh. however fair enough on the chef's part - he has integrity and doesn't want to serve his burger if it's not correct.

    we went back again last night... there was sign in the window saying "due to the popularity and high demand for our food, we have run out and are CLOSED". seriously, they've run out of food?

    the place is really good, and inexpensive, IF it's open. i'd call ahead if i were you! cafe chloe is just up the street two blocks if you do happen to get frozen out like we did.

    ibstatguy - here here on the chimay! that's some damn good beer, and i don't even really care for beer.

    1. What irritates me is that they don't have ketchup. I don't really care if they think they are "above" ketchup, I like it. Kind of the same deal at FO--I don't like anything mayo-based but they won't take it off their burger, therefore they don't get my dollars.

      8 Replies
      1. re: jturtle

        i hear ya on the ketchup thing. a couple of our friends feel the same way.

        we actually asked one day about the huge similarity between FO and neighborhood and the server said the chef was 'inspired' by his experience at FO and wanted to bring it to san D. i think many of us are happy to have a local version. would be nice if they could figure out how to properly inventory so they don't continually disappoint their patrons.

        1. re: jturtle

          I totally agree with you on the "no mayo" policy. And, really many people eat a burger without ketchup? Sure, ketchup isn't gourmet, but we're talking hamburgers here. Ketchup is a legitimate part of the burger experience.

          1. re: nileg

            Hear hear, and good to know on Father's Office - I hate mayo too - what do they do for people who are allergic to eggs? Refuse to serve them? For a phenomenal burger in LA, I'd recommend the Pug Burger at the Hungry Cat - assuming it's like the one we had in Santa Barbara.

            I stopped at Neighborhood for takeout once, and it was packed - I didn't think the burgers were that great - and the onion rings were downright bad - but I'd be willing to try it again since I've heard such good things about it.

            1. re: Alice Q

              it was my experience that there are no condiments served on the burger. correct me if i'm remembering wrong! if you made the mistake of asking for ketchup, the question is met with 'our chef doesn't serve his burgers with ketchup', then they will substitute a red pepper aioli for you. so if you've got an egg allergy, then you're SOL.

              i've had the burger twice with no condiment and thought it was outstanding. alice q - we went for lunch and thought the onion rings were good, especially with the whole grain mustard sauce they serve them with. maybe you went on an off day/night? they do seem to get overwhelmed when the place is full.

              no ketchup in the building. the ketchup has left the building.

              1. re: beachbunnySD

                I was responding to the comment about Fathers' Office - we didn't have any issues with ketchup at Neighborhood b/c we brought the food home and had our own!

                I think the take out aspect of that meal was a major problem though - they put the food in plastic boxes, where it steamed itself to death on the way home - it was tough and overcooked by the time we got to eat it.

          2. re: jturtle

            Just so I understand - they don't have ketchup on the table, or they don't have it in the building?

            1. re: trentyzan

              "Just so I understand - they don't have ketchup on the table, or they don't have it in the building?"

              They probably have it in the building, but they don't tell you that.

              It appears their attitude is about the same one you'd get if you asked for A-1 Steak Sauce at a Donovan's type of place. :)

              1. re: RB Hound

                I don't think that's really fair to compare ketchup to A-1 Steak Sauce. Their purposes are completely different, and the level of sophistication is huge between both ketchup and steak sauce and Neighborhood and Donovan's. If they wanted, they could make their own gourmetish ketchup but apparently they think all ketchup is below themselves. Strip Steak in Vegas makes their own ketchup (and aiolis) that they serve along with fries that is absolutely fantastic. And Strip Steak is definitely a better restaurant than Neighborhood.

                sorry for ranting there.

          3. If they don't want to put ketchup on their burger, then they shouldn't. You're free to eat somewhere else. I think it's perfectly legitimate for a restaurant to refrain from doing something they think will compromise their food. I understand it doesn't seem like a big deal to many people, but as someone who can be fussy about things, I can see their point.

            I've been to Father's Office, and did not miss the ketchup. I am normally not a fan of mayonnaise, and have also kind of lost my taste for ketchup. However the homemade versions of both these condiments is a whole other story. Ritual Tavern's HFCS-free ketchup is as amazing as Father's Office's homemade mayo.

            Homemade mayonnaise is insanely good, and really shows how lacking commodity mayo is.

            If the beef is good, then putting ketchup on it makes as much sense as putting it on a good steak (IMO, YMMV). I wouldn't think of putting ketchup on 910's burger, for example.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Josh

              I would expect them to at least do some house-made ketchup - if not for the burgers, at least for the fries. Ironically though, I like good aioli with fries (the way Starlite serves theirs) but hate mayo on burgers or sandwiches.

              I know what you mean about not putting ketchup on a REALLY good burger (for example, I'd never put ketchup on the Pug Burger) but I'm not sure Neighborhood's burgers are really that good.

              1. re: Josh

                FO's makes you have whatever fancy, homemade version of mayo they have. I don't eat it, homemade, aioli or not. To refuse to take something off that makes me physically ill, like I previously said means I don't go there.

                As far as "Neighborhood" goes I find it seriously ridiculous that a place that serves food often associated with ketchup (fries & onion rings as well as hamburgers) claims it is "above" the pedestrian food of ketchup. Not to go into the great aspects of ketchup but you will find that even Jeffery Steingarten has devoted chapeters in his books to the great condiment.

                I don't want to be offered a substitution of red pepper aolli, as it isn't the same thing and I don't like mayoesque products. If they have problems with ketchup, make their own. Several publications have articles & recipes devoted to the making of homemade ketchup.

                I almost want to go and bring my own fast food style packets and bust them out during my meal. I am sorry, but it seems to me quite a bit of ego for a chef who doesn't allow for something that is commonly associated with a food.

                1. re: Josh

                  I understand what you're saying and agree that it could be conceived as rude; kind of like asking for salt for your risotto or something. The chef should be allowed to craft something in his own mind; and this may be unfair for me to judge since I've never been there, but the impression I got was that ketchup was beneath them. That was my main problem with it.

                  1. re: DougOLis

                    Ketchup is pretty strong-tasting. I think it masks other flavors because of that, whereas a nice aioli helps transmit flavor because of its high fat content.

                    1. re: Josh

                      That's pretty subjective though and in my opinion a lot of condiments are pretty strong tasting (mustard, sauerkraut, sriracha, tapatio, even garlic aioli). Ketchup historically compliments fries and burgers well. I dunno.

                      1. re: DougOLis

                        Right, but the point is, strong-tasting condiments aren't normally applied to premium food items for that very reason. You wouldn't put sriracha on Wagyu, for example. (I mean, you could, but you'd miss some of the flavors)

                        My guess is that ketchup on burgers comes from lower-quality meat being used that wasn't very flavorful on its own. (Just a guess). And unlike vinegary condiments, fat-based condiments like mayo and butter help transmit flavor, while being quite mild-tasting on their own.

                2. I'm with jturtle. I would have no problem bringing my own ketchup to someplace that had that kind of attitude! (Hey, I think Jack in the Box has Heinz packets! LOL!)

                  I already carry Sweet n Low and Tapatio packets in my purse....what's one more item???

                  1. i've gone back a few more times since my last post on this place. i have to say (sadly) it was inconsistent. mostly the issue is your burger arriving the way you order it. they say they cook to the rarer side, but haven't found that to be true the last few times. my friend ordered hers med-rare and it arrived med-well.

                    anyhow, my husband and i had a GREAT burger at jayne's gastropub the other night. the pickled onions balanced out the richness of the cheese and the meat was intensely flavorful. i think we have a favorite new burger place now!!! plus the little patio out back nearly charmed our pants right off. combo'ed with a glass of chimay silver... jayne's made fans out of us.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: beachbunnySD

                      I find that unless you specify you want stuff really rare, places always overcook. I've seldom encountered otherwise. I actually tell people to make stuff very rare, because then at least I have a shot at getting medium rare. Sad but true. Neighborhood, Linkery, Ritual, Nine-Ten and Hamilton's are the few places in town where they actually will do rare when you ask.

                      1. re: Josh

                        I find places that have exceptional beef tend to not be afraid of serving an MR burger, even with the laws/codes about cooking/serving beef to total leatherness.