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Sparky's Piedmont Ave vs Barney's

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The new diner on Piedmont Ave, Sparky's -- how does it compare to Barney's?

I should point out that I don't actually like the food at Barney's much at all because the burgers are always underseasoned and often overcooked, the bread is blah, and there's just SO MUCH food in a serving. But my kids love it and the staff is super patient and friendly. Barney's rather dry burgers are no doubt healthier than a juicy diner burger. And I do like those sweet potato fries. So we go there. But I'm definitely interested in finding alternatives nearby. Is Sparky's likely to fit the bill?

Barney's Gourmet Hamburger
4162 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

4151 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

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  1. No contest. Sparky's wins! The Niman Ranch burgers are juicy, the place is clean and cute, the service is great, and the Asian ladies who make the burgers are the best! We walk down the hill to do family night at Sparky's. My daughter loves it! She also loves the Asian ladies. They're super kid-friendly. We are Sparky's fans.

    4151 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611

    2 Replies
    1. re: Eastbayista

      Any menu recommendations? I may be in the area over the weekend...

      1. re: kokosowy

        OK, so it's been a while. But we ended up being underwhelmed. It's a *very* different style of burger to Barney's -- really moist (i.e. fatty) and dripping. The buns couldn't quite deal with this and were kind of soggy. Fries not as good, rather bland. The service from behind the counter really friendly, but our waiter clearly aspired to greater (in his mind) things and was very aloof.

        We went back once again and the other people in my family, who hadn't tried Sparky's earlier, were also not impressed. And they'll pretty much eat anything labelled "burger."

        Hopefully it's picked up. Not sure I'll be back in a hurry, though.

    2. Where is the new Sparky's? (Google Maps puts it across the street from Gaylord's).

      1 Reply
      1. re: Rapini

        That's about right. Sorry, I thought I created a link. Will try and add it again...

      2. Is this Sparky's related to the Sparky's Giant Burgers on Redwood Rd just off Hwy 13? It's also Asian run w/ Niman Ranch beef.

        I had a pretty tasty & juicy burger there. A bit out of the way except for locals. Am curious to see if they are expanding to a 2nd spot.

        Accolades aside, their onion rings were like under-cooked Burger King rings (rings of breaded, formed rings of grated onion vs. actual solid rings (truth be told, I like BK's version. these, not so much)).

        Sparky's Giant Burgers
        4120 Redwood Rd, Oakland, CA 94619

        1 Reply
        1. re: drewskiSF

          Yes I believe it is related to the Redwood Rd Sparky's. The menus are similar. I have always liked the teriyaki chicken at Sparky's, and it's available at both places. Also, I think I recognize one of the counter people on Piedmont from the Redwood place.

        2. I'm in on vacation from Montreal (do stop by -- montrealfood.com) and have been eating at Barney's pretty much since it opened, when I'm in town visiting the folks.

          But the last few times it's really been intolerable -- I realise I'm not in Montreal any more, but lines out the door at 1:30 on a weekday afternoon, never mind that it's the holidays, is just silly.

          We spotted Sparky's across the way the other day and made a beeline. It's astonishing how similar the ambience and even the seating is. We were out at the back outside the toilet (it's like a Bizarro Universe mirror image of Barney's!) and the menu is strikingly similar as well. I wanted to try the hot dog, since they have no decent hot dogs in Montreal (they have no decent BURGERS in Montreal -- it's a wasteland) but i went instead for the bacon cheese. It was good, easily on a par with Barney's. As usual, way, way too much food, but that's what America likes, but what I think I'm trying to say is by all means, ditch Barney's for Sparky's . . . after a while, waiting in line for half an hour for a burger loses its cachet.

          1. Both are shadows of the pretty darn burgers that they used to make over 10 years ago.

            I say avoid both!

              Initially I went searching for Sparky's website to have a look at their menu, to order something to go since they're in our neighborhood. I never found their website (I assume they don't have one), but what I did find was a bunch of customer reviews stating how great their food and customer service was. I walked down & put my order in: bacon burger with avocado, no lettuce or onion with a side of fries. Waited quite a while for it to be done, the cook set it on the front counter and walked away while the person manning the counter ignored the to-go bag and thus ignoring me- the customer, until I said something. Got home, opened the burger to find there was no bacon on it, but there was lettuce and onions, the meat was a thin overcooked and under seasoned patty and the fries were greasy on the outside & dry on the inside- liked they'd been made the day before. The fries tasted terrible, I ate 5 fries from different sections of the pile hoping my chances would improve- all bad. The avocado had several brown spots, enough brown spots that I had to take it off completely. So not only was the customer service non-existent, but the food was terrible. Where's the fresh ingredients? I paid $10 for processed trash and to be ignored. This was my first time ordering and more than likely will be my last. Not impressed and certainly won't recommend Sparky's to any of my friends...except maybe to people I don't like.

              1 Reply
              1. re: MangiareQuesta

                You need a Time machine to get a decent Burger at either.

                Set it around 1998 or before.