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Oct 9, 2008 07:07 PM

Joe's Cable Car, SF - best burger, onion rings, chocolate malt?

I just read David's Lebovitz's post on Joe's Cable Car in SF. Seems he had the best burger, onion rings, & a good chocolate malt there. Is it really a $10 burger? What do hounds think?

David's post:

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  1. lol... yes, it really is that good. but it's not a cheap place to eat -- like they say you get what you pay for. real beef that's cut and ground in front of you. also, the place is very clean, the service is great, and you'd have to be a grinch if the decor doesn't put a smile on your face. still everything comes to you on plastic plates so when you get your bill for $50 for two people, don't choke on your milkshake.

    1. Joe's is a funny place. Back in the day before the burger craze, Joe's was the place. Somewhere along the line the prices crept up but the burgers didn't improve along with the prices or the competition. Good burgers but you can get a better or comparable burger at a number of places...Barney's, Burgermeister, etc, for a lot less.

      If the burgers are indeed $10 bucks (for the small/4 oz?)...onion rings, a shake, tax and tip gets close or over $20 bucks. If it was $10 bucks and the fries or onions rings were included...that seems fair. OTOH, 2 people for $40+ bucks? Think about that.

      Maybe Joe's has gotten better but I don't recall them to be "that" good...not $10 buck good.

      6 Replies
      1. re: ML8000

        Yes, the $10 figure is for a plain quarter-pound (pre-cooked weight) hamburger. If you go up to 6oz and want one slice of cheese (only $1 per slice!) you're looking at $14.50. With fries it's now $17. Add a shake and you're going to have to start selling internal organs to settle the tab.

        I've been to Joe's twice, and, even if the prices were the same, would much rather go to Burgermeister or Zeitgeist or Absinthe.

        I think Joe's is like La Taqueria: its glory days have long-since passed it by, but now that it is featured in countless guidebooks, it can coast for years. Only an out-of-towner is going to be blown away by the place -- there are simply too many other good (and more reasonably priced) options in the city. None of which have been featured on FoodTv.

        1. re: jpancake

          For further comparison, the hamburgers at BurgerMeister are 8oz (half-pound) and for a cheeseburger with fries you're looking at about $10 total.

          The equivalent burger & fries at Joe's would cost $18.25:
          $10 + $4.75 (for the 'Paul Bunyan Special' 8oz upgrade) + $1 (for the cheese slice) + $2.50 (for the fries)

        2. re: ML8000

          Or Moe's in North Beach! That's a good burger.

          Are you saying people believe what they hear on TV? Tut, tut.

          Frankly, I don't get the burger craze. I can get excellent fresh molida de rez around the corner at 2.50$/lb, fire up the propane, and have a sweet half-pounder in 15 minutes.

          1. re: bbulkow

            gotta love that burger at Moe's on Grant Ave. in North Beach— it's a 5-napkin burger.

            1. re: Cynsa

              I agree with you guys that Mo's in North Beach is very good. The odd thing is, Mo's at Yerba Buena Garden isn't nearly as good and I could never figure out why. The burgers are completely different and not in a good way. (it might be lack of the huge charcoal grill?)

              1. re: Cynsa

                Haven't been to the Mo's in North Beach, but the Mo's in Berkeley was my all-times fave (North side of campus near Top Dog). Too bad it didn't last long.

            1. It's a lot more than $10. It's good. Maybe it's worth it to you--to me, it isn't. Big Mouth Burger or Darla's or ..... deliver a much better quality/value ratio.

              1. They did a great job of showcasing this place on Diners,Drive-ins and Dives. I made a mental note of the place but now I'm glad I saw about the prices, wow.

                11 Replies
                  1. re: 5am

                    My college age son who lives in SF (Ingleside) called me all excited after seeing this place on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. He was all set to head on over. Called back again to say that he had checked the prices and reviews online and was horrified by the prices. He felt the only affordable way to partake would be for his dad and I to head in and treat him to a meal. We opted out and he headed to Beep's Burgers (Ocean and Lee) two blocks from his apartment and saved himself $10.

                    1. re: baseballfan

                      Send your son to Tennessee Grill (Taraval and 20th) in the Sunset. The Tennessee special is fresh beef, charbroiled, cooked to order (med-rare, etc.) comes w/ fries (only average fries) for $4.25. A coke kicks it up another $1.25. Best burger deal in town. Not so close to the Ingleside but not super far either.

                      1. re: baseballfan

                        At Lakeside Cafe (2529 Ocean Ave.) you can get a 1/2 lb. Angus beef burger, meat ground at the restaurant every day, with excellent fries for $7.75 (+.75 for cheese) and they cook the burger very accurately to order.

                        Lakeside Cafe
                        2529 Ocean Ave, San Francisco, CA 94132

                        1. re: Nancy Berry

                          Tried Lakeside Cafe for the first time the other day and it smelled like the inside of a nursing home. The menu looked good, but my friend and I couldn't stick around long enough to order.

                          1. re: Civil Bear

                            The restaurant appeals to an older demographic -- I've also seen many families with young children there -- but it certainly doesn't smell like anything other than a clean, well-maintained restaurant. I sense a bit of ageism here. You should have tried the food -- it's quite good, especially the hamburgers.

                            1. re: Nancy Berry

                              Sense a bit of ageism? If your senses work properly, I doubt you could enjoy your lunch alongside a faint scent of urine and ammonia...regardless of the age of the clientele. Or does my failure to ignore the odor make me some sort of ageophobe?

                              My friend and I drove across town to try this place. Perhaps our experience was an isolated incident, but I am in no rush to go back and find out.

                              1. re: Civil Bear

                                My family has been going to Lakeside for years and we've never had that experience. I guess that my sense of smell isn't as acute and sensitive as yours or, as you said, this was an isolated incident.

                                1. re: Civil Bear

                                  Dol Ho has a strong smell of Bengay (really!), but that doesn't ruin my experience of eating there.

                                  1. re: Atomica

                                    If I walk into an old school place and see a bunch of seniors in there, it usually means a couple of things -- the food is usually decent and it's probably reasonably priced. Diners at breakfast are often validated by the smell of ben gay.