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Challenge: impressing a non-seafoodie Chicagoan with SF fare (on a budget)

Hi everyone,

This is my first post, so please excuse the number of conditions. But I'm at a loss. Not being part of the SF food scene, I don't even know how to research this issue! I want this boy to fly back with his head blown and his stomach amazed. Or something.

This is a tough case, I think. The kid's not into seafood, not impressed with tapas, nor energized by the organic. I think he is more into: hearty, unpretentious, retro, but slightly interesting. Anyone know a life-changing burger place?

Any suggestions very welcome. As far as location goes, we'll be doing touristy stuff all over, but his flight arrives into San Jose at ten PM (which is it's own challenge) and we'll be paying a visit to Berkeley for sure. Thank you!!

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    1. Is that it? All he wants is burgers? You are eliminating all ethnic cuisine?

      If you are going one on one with Chicago in terms of beef, your boy is going home dissapointed.

      Not life changing, but lots of people want to try In-N-Out burger chain. There are three in San Jose and they are open until 1am. NoCal isn't exactly a late night place
      http://www.in-n-out.com/

      Just how little does he want the burger messed with? This is the land of the organic and places tend to do ... things ... with burgers ... like put them on sourdough rolls ... and addiny stuff ... and charge $15.

      1. There is a slight lack of unanimity on hamburgers on this board.
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4217...

          1. You can get a good burger but I'd say taqueria or taco truck crawl in Oakland. Cheap, tasty, hearty, etc.

            Beyond that, I'd just take him somewhere with a safe menu that you like, something like Park Chow, NOPA, whatever just don't mention it's pretentous, organic, etc.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ML8000

              Despite the fact that the NOPA chef used to work at Park Chow, and the fact that they both serve organic American food, that's about as far as I'd go as grouping those two restaurants together.

              I don't feel NOPA is pretentious at all, unlike Chow, which makes sure you know it's all organic before stepping into the restaurant; NOPA just lets the food speak for itself.

              For an entirely different non-organic burger experience, assuming he doesn't mind [lack of] ambience, hit up Mission Burger.

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              Park Chow
              1238 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122

              1. re: vulber

                Yes they're both American menus and that's it...no other connections. Just examples of safe menus. Again, wouldn't mention it's organic and all that. It's probably more of a knee jerk reaction to the idea of organic/frou-frou and nothing else.

                Again, I'd just go somewhere the OP likes and maybe the kid will like it. Trying to please someone on the premise of a great burgers is a bit far-fetched and frankly who knows what kind of burger he'd appreciate?

                On that note, I'd go to Zuni Cafe, get the burger after 10 p.m. or the chicken.

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                Zuni Cafe
                1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102