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BEST BURGERS IN SAN DIEGO

Hodad's... Amazing
Nessy Burger...Amazing
In N' Out... Pretty Darn Good Fast Food
Fatburger...good
To me the best burger joint is Hodad's. The best total meal, fries, shake, the works. But Nessy Burger is pretty awesome also. If your ever driving down the 76, you gotta stop here! I would suggest being hungry since these burgers are huge... Any others match these? My brother and I have yet to find one that tops Hodad's.

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Hodads Restaurant
5010 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107

Nessy Burger
Fallbrook

Fat Burger
San DIego

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  1. You sure you can cook? ;-)

    I mean, Hodad's is aight, but I wouldn't put them anywhere near the top of any list. Maybe, "most overrated burger", right behind Rocky's.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Josh

      I think you're forgetting the Waterfront. Next to their inexplicably beloved burger, Hodad's and Rocky's look like all-stars.

    2. Try the Ritual Tavern in NP, IMO they put a complete quality plate together. I also like Hodad's for a good 'loaded' burger and you're right they have excellent shakes.

      1. Rocky's is number 1, hands down, nuff said. Nessy is number 2, an excellent burger. After that, Hodad's, Mr. Peabody's, Ritual, Neighborhood, Tivoli all scrap for number 3. We have some good burgers in SD.
        I've eaten at all the "famous" burger spots from IB to Napa (Taylor's is pretty good) but Rocky's is still the best.

        9 Replies
        1. re: rotie77

          I think AR Valentien has one of the best burgers!! It's in The Lodge at Torrey Pines. Have one on their deck overlooking the golf course and the ocean with a cold beer. What could be better? I love Rocky's too. Hodad's are good but barely have any meat on it. Let me know what you think

          1. re: neener41

            I agree with you I'm a big fan of their burger. When I was at the us open I had at least one a day for 5 days. I also love that you can have a cigar on the patio. I need to get back there.

          2. re: rotie77

            Farmhouse Cafe
            Linkery
            Burger Lounge
            Alchemy

            Rocky's is number 1 10 years ago.

            1. re: Josh

              I went to Alchemy a couple months ago, and wasn't impressed. The burger was overcooked and cold (it took over 30 minutes), and the fries tasted like they were fried in old oil. Maybe this was a fluke, and the place would be worth another try.

              1. re: beth1

                I didn't like the burger back then either. The last couple of times I've had it though, within the past month, it's been juicy and flavorful. I think they've made some changes to how they do it. That or we both were unlucky.

                Farmhouse Cafe's is still my favorite though. That burger is ridiculously good.

              2. re: Josh

                methinks you like a more "upscale" burger than I, Josh. I'm an 80/20 cooked on the griddle in lots of grease kinda guy. But I do love the Farmhouse burger too, Linkery very good, Burger Lounge, meh, haven't been to Alchemy yet.

                1. re: rotie77

                  Not at all. I like Burger Lounge, too. I don't require anything fancy, but I don't eat feedlot beef anymore, so that really limits my burger choices. That said, even when I *did* eat feedlot beef, I only really liked burgers from places that ground their own meat (like Neighborhood and Phil's BBQ) because then I could get it cooked medium rare. To me, a good burger has to be juicy, and if you have to cook a burger until it's medium-well, you can forget about juiciness.

                  I have read about some people having mediocre experiences at Burger Lounge, but I haven't. I also didn't go until they'd been open for almost a year, so who knows - maybe I missed their "meh" period.

                  1. re: Josh

                    I'll have to give them another try. I'm a medium rare guy too. What always surprised me about Rocky's was that even done medium to medium well (I have gotten them pink there, especially lately), juice was still running down my arms. Plus, I don't want my burger to taste like ground steak, I want it to taste like a burger. I think Neighborhood's burgers have excellent flavor, but not "burger" flavor, at least to me. Farmhouse is closer, and since I've tried their burger they moved Nessy to #3.

                2. re: Josh

                  'Rocky's is number 1 10 years ago.'

                  good one.

              3. If you have not tried the Bare Lil Lamb at Bare Back Bar and Grill, give it a shot. They grind their meat fresh every day and the lamburger is super juicy and flavorful. I do not have the same level of enthusiasm for the fresh ground organic beef however.

                1. I had a pretty damn good burger this past weekend at the Tidewater Tavern in Solona Beach. It was really...I aks for Medium-rare and is what i received. The fries that come with it were good also.

                  1. Neighborhood and Alchemy have served me the best burgers I've had in SD.

                    1. I having gone to most of the places listed in this thread, and was at Rocky's last week and that is still by far the best classic Hamburger in San Diego. Beef has the right amount of fat, perfect texture, extremely juicy, bun is light and fresh....hands down the best.

                      I like Hodad's because I can get bacon on it, but the thing is 10 feet tall. Still a good burger.

                      I have had great burgers at many of the other places listed but have never, ever had an overcooked burger at Rocky's or a stale bun. I have had that at some of the other places, the patties were dry, or buns that I thought were too dense or almost stale tasting.

                      And to throw a place out of competition because of commodity beef is just plain silly. I try not to eat commodity beef often but c'mon, be practical.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: MrKrispy

                        Mr K, 2nd the commodity beef comment. Those great tall grass fed beef burgers come served on a Cisco bun, with commodity lettuce, tomatoes, fries and a commodity pickle.

                        1. re: cstr

                          If I'm not completely wrong the buns at BL are not Cisco buns but made in-house, same with the fries. And based on their concept I don't think their lettuce and tomatoes etc. are anywhere near from Cisco. Or can you back-up your claims ?

                          1. re: honkman

                            I believe they are but, do they use organic flour or con-agra? What I am getting at is, although the beef is high quality, the rest of the plate isn't. I'd wish they'd go the extra mile and use organic and house made. This is where I like Ritual, they do this.

                            1. re: honkman

                              I believe their buns are baked fresh and delivered daily from Bread and Cie, located in Hillcrest. Plus, its the BL's own recipe they claim. Fluffy enough and can hold that juicy grass fed goodness together pretty well.

                            2. re: cstr

                              "And to throw a place out of competition because of commodity beef is just plain silly" - Why ?

                              1. re: honkman

                                a place can't have the best (or say 3rd best) burger because it is "normal" beef? We are talking about taste here, not ethics correct?

                                Do you hold the remainder of a burger's ingredients under such scrutiny?
                                What about places that use small farm, corn-fed beef?
                                What about Grass-fed beef that is slaughtered the same as factory beef?
                                Would you totally discount how great a burger tastes because it is factory meat?
                                Can you seriously think it is practical that the best tasting burger can only come from grass fed beef?

                                To me, a Best Burger is about the whole package and the dependability. While I have enjoyed a few burgers at Linkery and Burger Lounge (for example) I have not had a consistent experience with the cooking or the ingredients. I certainly have NEVER had a dry burger at Rocky's or Hodads.

                                As an aside, I am almost certain Burger Lounge does not use Sysco or networking gear in their burgers. Linkery can't possibly do that either.

                                1. re: MrKrispy

                                  Hopefully the thread police won't delete this, though they always have in the past.

                                  There's one very simple reason why, for me, places that serve commodity beef can never be one of the top burgers. Due to the threat of E. coli contamination, commodity ground beef must be cooked to a certain internal temperature by law, and that temperature puts beef well into the over-cooked range, at least to my palate.

                                  I like burgers rare to medium-rare, and the only places where you can do that are where the beef comes from grass-fed cattle, because the strain of E. coli that can make humans sick doesn't live in the stomachs of grass-fed cattle, or where the restaurant grinds their own meat, so that you know there are no contaminants. Phil's BBQ, for example, grinds their own chuck for their burgers, and they will consequently cook them medium-rare if you ask.

                                  Like you, I think the best burger designation is about taste. And when a burger is overcooked, that automatically takes it out of the running for any top spot on my list.

                                  Lastly, I happen to prefer the flavor of grass-fed beef to corn-fed. The same holds true for lamb.

                                  1. re: Josh

                                    well, as far as San Diego goes, I have never been told by a restaurant that they can't/won't cook a rare or medium rare burger.

                                    Ideally I would prefer everyone grinds all their own beef, and uses small farm beef, and has it processed (slaughtered) at a separate facility, but it isn't practical/allowed at this time. Linkery probably comes the closest, but I haven't had consistent quality burgers there unfortunately.

                          2. Hodads with my family, it is the whole package fries, shakes, beer and OB.

                            If it is just my wife and I and we really want a burger we go to Bully's. The burger includes a real salad and a choice ot taters. They serve there burgers on a french roll and they grind the meat themselves.

                            When I purchase burgers I only go to Iowa Meat Farms. The burger is ground from what ever they are slicing that morning, all of the trimmings are turned into burger. They are never frozen and come 6 to a bag, and I think they cost about 4-5 per bag.

                            5 Replies
                              1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                                I frequent Bully's for that same reason, I can get a salad, the burger is cooked the way I request it and it tastes very good. Also, there is a BOGO coupon for Bully's which makes it even a better deal. I do like Hodad's for those shakes, when I'm not in the mood for a beer.

                                1. re: cstr

                                  Where does one find the Bully's BOBO coupon?

                                  1. re: Captain Jack

                                    They were on 'where to eat' all last fall through this June. I just checked and it's off, probably for the summer, keep your eye on the site. I used them all last winter and spring.

                                    1. re: Captain Jack

                                      I got it in the mail. It was in the Community MAgazines, UPTOWN edition. 619-692-1526

                                2. Don't laugh, but The Alpine Inn (in Alpine, yes the dreaded East County) serves up a Kobe Beef Burger that is juicy and delicious.

                                  Go on a Tuesday night for the full East County-Karaoke experience. Bizarre-ness and hilarity at their best.

                                  1. Folks-

                                    Just a friendly reminder, the California board is focused on discussion about were to find great food and drink, either at restaurants or at stores. Discussion of beef,or food processing in general, or health regulations is out of scope for this board.

                                    Please help us keep the focus of this regional board on where to find great food and drink in the region.

                                    Thanks.

                                    1. how many threads on this topic already exist? in no particular order: C Star, Neighborhood, Longhorn, Dobsons, Waterfront...

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. Brunch @ The Farmhouse Cafe today ....and as much as I really like their lemon-ricotta pancakes, I opted for their seriously FINE FHC hamburger. The crispy frites and bread & butter pickles on the side took it over the top.

                                        If you are thinking of visiting The Farmhouse Cafe this week, our server said they are taking some well-deserved time off to enjoy an extended Labor Day weekend:
                                        - Closed for dinner Sun. 9/6, - Wed. 9/9.
                                        - Dinner service resumes Thu. 9/10 @ 5pm.

                                        1. I am heading to Crest Cafe next week for their burger that is smothered in butter (cannot remember the name of it). Anyone had it?

                                          1. Had the Nessy today on my way back from Riverside; that's a darn good burger!

                                            1. My wife got the burger at Whisknladle a few weeks ago, which we both thought was excellent. Worth trying for sure.

                                              1. Nessy's is a darn tasty burger, but make sure you don't have to drive very far afterwards because it will put you to sleep, lol!

                                                Rocky's use to be one of my fav's but last time I went in it wasn't as good, perhaps because there have been so many good burger joints that have opened up. Believe it or not, I plan on not going back.

                                                One of my favs is the BIson Burger at Cowboy Star downtown in East Village. This is a lunchtime exclusive and I highly recommend it!

                                                Also, O Brother's opened up in the Horton Plaza downtown, which serves organic burgers that are tasty. The meat is local as well! Almost everything in the place is organic including the fries, beer and wine. The onion rings and the veggies burger were a tad salty however (I like to have my meat alternatives for human and eco health).

                                                Speaking of veggie burgers, the Burger Lounge serves up a tasty one with a Quinoa (a healty grain) base.

                                                Enjoy!

                                                1. Anyone have a rec for a casual burger place in the Clairemont/Kearny Mesa area?

                                                  4 Replies
                                                    1. re: DougOLis

                                                      Thanks, I never think about going to O'Briens when I'm on Convoy since there are so many other options. But I've heard a lot of people recommending the beer and now the burgers there. One of these days I'll have to check it out.

                                                      1. re: mliew

                                                        IMO O'briens is king of the beer bars in San Diego, a can't-miss if you are in to craft beers and Belgian beers.

                                                        However, Idon't know what is going on with the burgers...sometimes they are really good and obviously hand made...other times I swear they are using pre-made frozen patties...weird. Get the garlic fries if you won't be near other people later that night!

                                                        1. re: MrKrispy

                                                          Garlic beer-battered fries w/ jalapenos are the best.

                                                  1. In my opinion a good burger is a work of art! I don't think that a burger can be judged by its individual components but rather its compilation of each piece. Also, I think that the bread, being the shell to the sandwich as well as the first thing that hits your mouth MUST be good. The size , the ease of eating, the textures, the way that each piece melds together, and the combination of the flavors are all equally important.

                                                    That being said, I would have to say that Rocky's is my personal fav! It is not fancy, healthful, fresh, or organic but the end product is so good it doesn't matter.

                                                    1. Hodad's burgers are fantastic!

                                                      But their "spiced" fries are down right nasty.

                                                      That Cajun spice is ok on the onion rings...but on Fries,YUCK!

                                                      What are they thinking?

                                                      Does anyone know if you can get regular fries without that cruddy coating?

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                                                      Hodads Restaurant
                                                      5010 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107

                                                      1. The best burger (IMHO) is the "Queenstown Fave" free range beef burger with BBQ sauce and Edam cheese at Bareback Grill downtown. Lunch special: burger, fries (what do they put ON them - I think it's a hint of sugar??? delicious!) and a beer for just under $10. Get the Hefeweizen - it has a nice, crisp taste to contrast against the beef and BBQ sauce.