Marin Burger Wars
I have been an In N Out fan for years, but based on the fact that Phyllis's Giant Burgers (PGB) wins the Pacific Sun award for best Marin Burger every year, I decided to go to San Rafael and give it a try.
Two burgers, two onion rings and two small drinks for $26! This was ridiculously overpriced. The burger was boring. It was fine, but nothing special. Big and greasy, with a stale bun, it was lacking in appeal. At In N out, it would cost half this amount and those burgers are addictive and tasty. The only reason to go to PNB: if you have to have onion rings. Although, they also, were nothing special. In N Out wins hands down.
I definitely don't agree with the negative opinions here about Phyllis's in San Rafael. About the price, they're a half-pound-of-beef burger for $5, extra for extras, and cooked to your specification. Yes, the burgers drip juice like a good burger should. They'll give you sauteed onions on your burger at no extra cost. They're so much larger and better than those tiny In-and-Out fried-to-death fast-food wafers there's no comparison. I don't like the burgers at their newer Novato location as much. They're the ones that seem boring to me; maybe not enough juice dripping :-)
Caveat... I haven't been in about a year. Did the main cook leave?
Boca Steaks in Ignacio. Superb meat...probably scraps from prime beef for steaks. Only criticism is no flavoring in the meat, but I think that may be understood...you can always salt it. Served with duck fat fries. Barney's Burgers in San Rafael...sides are extra but good burger. Il Davide in San Rafael, burger on focaccia with lots of good fries. Some like Marin Joe's...but it is too much bread for me. Last burger I had at Phyllis' was tasty, but a bit greasy.
340 Ignacio Blvd, Novato, CA 94949
901 A St Ste E, San Rafael, CA 94901
Pearl's Phat Burger has very good burgers, in the same level (counter service, fast) as In n' Out and Phyllis's so should definitely be considered in any competition that includes those two. They have some interesting choices too- kobe beef, hawaiian burger, etc.
For more restaurant (not fast-food) burgers, as another poster mentioned- Brick and Bottle has a very tasty pimento cheese burger- very rich but delicious. Balboa Cafe has a good burger, but they use 'nice' buns, which many 'nice' restaurants do, which are too dry and heavy for my taste. Also they have really good sliders at happy hour. Also, if this is really a war, might as well include the burger at Joe's Taco lounge and Marin Brewing Company in the battle. Both are good.
Pearl's Phat Burgers
8 E Blithedale Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941
Balboa Cafe Mill Valley
38 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley, CA 94941
Brick and Bottle
55 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera, CA 94925
I don't know how Phyllis's wins any awards - I don't even find their food good (I definitely view their burgers as below average), let alone great. Even though I am a burger-aholic, I completely stopped going to Phyllis's.
Funny you mention the bun - EVERY time I go to PGB, the buns seems stale. They must order them that way.