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Best burgers in the Bay Area 2011

Starting a new topic since there's nothing very up to date.

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  1. Mua's my current go-to. I'm a minimalist, all I care about is the meat and the bun.

    Namu in SF grilled the best patty I've ever had.

    I still love Zuni's, great meat, though their use of focaccia rather than a bun is debatable.

    Luka's has gone downhill.

    I thought Trueburger was tops in that sort of griddled In-N-Out fast-food style.

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    Zuni Cafe
    1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

    Namu
    439 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

    Mua
    2442A Webster Street, Oakland, CA 94612

    Trueburger
    146 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94612

    14 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      I like Trueburger, but the last time I ordered from there (about a week ago) they were using some different kind of bun than they had in the past--it was puffy, dry, overly big, and not really toasted either). It ruined the burger for me. Anyone know if that's a permanent change or just an anomaly (like maybe they ran out of their normal buns that day)?

      Scolari's in Alameda makes a great burger. That and Sidebar are probably my two favorite places in the East Bay currently to get a solid, unfussy, better-than-fast-food burger.

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      Sidebar
      542 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA

      Trueburger
      146 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94612

      Scolari's
      1303 Park St, Alameda, CA 94501

      1. re: abstractpoet

        I agree about Trueburger. I like the meat and how the burger is dressed with mayo, tomato and lettuce. But the bun, was just a little bit too big. The meat should stick out a little. Good to hear they were at least using a better bun in the past. Maybe they'll go back. I almost brought this up with owner because they do seem to really care about their product. The fries BTW were perfect!!

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        Trueburger
        146 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94612

        1. re: apophis

          I don't think the patty should overlap the bun.

          1. re: apophis

            I like the patty overlapping the bun since it's hard to get them to synch up exactly. Nothing worse than a bite of empty bun--much better to get a bite of patty with no bun.

            1. re: rccola

              i wasn't paying attention and got the empty bun bite @ SR24 on Telegraph. other than that, it was a really nice burger. thick and juicy patty. i was surprised at the size difference since it's a house-made bun.

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              SR24
              5179 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

          2. re: abstractpoet

            Ordered from Trueburger again last night and was happy to see that the bun was back to normal -- website says they make their own, so maybe last time they had run out and were using store-bought or maybe it was just a bad batch. Phew.

            Anyway, I still like the Acme burger bun best, but I can live with these.

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            Trueburger
            146 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94612

          3. re: Robert Lauriston

            Cafe Rouge has great meat, maybe the best patty in the area, but the last couple of times I've been there they were off their game on the bun.

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            Cafe Rouge
            1782 Fourth St, Berkeley, CA 94710

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              i'm not a fan of the Acme Kaiser roll / bun either. did it used to be something else?

              1. re: drewskiSF

                Normally Rouge uses what looks tome like an Acme hamburger bun, which is hard to beat, provided I remember to ask them to toast it.

                One night a few months ago they were out and neglected to mention that they would substitute ... I forget what, but I didn't like it.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  OIC.

                  both times i've had the burger there it was the Acme Kaiser, not the hamburger bun. both were within the last couple months so maybe they've changed over completely.

              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                I've enjoyed many purchases from Cafe Rouge's meat counter, but tried the burger here for the first time and was quite disappointed. The burger had the appearance of what I am looking for--cooked to the requested medium rare, some char on the exterior, good bun/burger/toppings ratio, but the flavor was shockingly lacking. So much so that I can't attribute it to my love of salt--it just didn't have much beefy taste, which is the primary thing I'm looking for in a burger. I thoroughly enjoyed the fries, mayo, and 8 oz beer, perfect for lunch.

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                Cafe Rouge
                1782 Fourth St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                1. re: ...tm...

                  The main thing I like about Rouge's burger is the flavor of the meat, it often tastes like it has some aged beef scraps mixed in. I wonder if it might vary from day to day depending on what the butcher counter has been doing?

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    rouge uses beef chuck that has been cut, salted and ground. they might amass a larger following if they put some of that dry age in there. I would definitely go more often. i think the scraps from the dry age are unusable as there are parts they shave off and throw away. also, if they are using dry age, it would be a result of a very costly mistake

              3. re: Robert Lauriston

                May be old news but looks like the much-vaunted Namu burger is coming back at the end of this month at the soon-to-open Namu Gaji: http://www.tablehopper.com/newsletter...

              4. still like grayson's burger.

                thought trueburger was ordinary. liked val's better if i was comparing burgers by price levels.

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                900 Grayson
                900 Grayson St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                1. Anyone have the burger at Rico's recently? I still haven't gotten around to checking myself to see if the recent downhill reports are true.

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                  Rico's Diner
                  400 15th Street, Oakland, CA

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: abstractpoet

                    I haven't been but I was driving by a few weeks ago and it was open around 7 or so. That's significant because I remember talking to the previous owner about the hours and he said it wasn't worth staying open late due the neighborhood (mostly lunch) and gets weird at night. I have to take the new late hours and report of a owner change as real. I was tempted to stop but decided against it...didn't want to be disappointed.

                    I had the 4505 burger at the food truck fest in Jack London Sq last summer and it was excellent...but it was also grilled on a BBQ. If they could do that all the time, it might be at or near the top.

                    Also had the burger at NOPA...very nice but I think I should have gotten it with bacon and cheese. The grass fed beef was very good but a little dry...not enough grease.

                  2. Broken Record, Rosamunde Sausage Grill (Haight St. location, Tuesday lunch only), Foreign Cinema, 4505 Meats.

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                    Foreign Cinema
                    2534 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94110

                    Rosamunde Sausage Grill
                    545 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                    Broken Record
                    1166 Geneva Ave, San Francisco, CA

                    4505 Meats
                    1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111, CA

                    24 Replies
                    1. re: scarmoza

                      I will 2nd Broken Record and 4505 Meats with BR being my fav ever... ever? Yes... I think ever! Why? Because they grind their beef chuck with BACON fresh every day. Plus, good bread.

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                      Broken Record
                      1166 Geneva Ave, San Francisco, CA

                      4505 Meats
                      1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111, CA

                      1. re: Keesey

                        It wasn't by coincidence that I listed Broken Record first. It is a very lovely thing and my current favorite. But Mission Burger still holds a very strong place in my heart for all time favorite.

                        1. re: scarmoza

                          would agree with you on misison burger. here's hoping they resurrect it some day

                          1. re: vulber

                            Here, here! The only thing that's come close to that same texture is the burger during brunch at Foreign Cinema. It's made me wonder if they also use the Heston Blumenthal method for their patties.

                          2. re: scarmoza

                            The Mission Burger burger will reportedly be served at the Mission Bowling Club, due to open next year:

                            http://www.tablehopper.com/chatterbox...

                            -----
                            Mission Burgers
                            135 Anza St, Fremont, CA 94539

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              The Mission Burger burger is officially on the menu at the Mission Bowling Club, which opens next week. $15!! $1 benefits local youth related causes. I loved that burger, but i would not have paid $15 for it. Nor $14. Of course, it may be a bigger burger than the one they were serving out of Duc Loi... one hopes. I know better burgers cost more now but it's a bowling alley. and yeah i know, it's a fancy, hipster bowling alley in the Mission. *sigh.*

                              http://sf.eater.com/uploads/menudraft...

                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                agreed - it was $8 at duc loi - i would hope they would have at least included fries with it. i'm also trying to figure out how mission bowling club's menu is more expensive than the menu at lucky strike, which occupies twice the space in a far more expensive area....

                                1. re: vulber

                                  Mission Bowling Club's burgers are $15 ($10 at happy hour) with $1 going to charity and are made with dry-aged beef and that labor-intensive Heston Blumenthal "granulation" technique.

                                  Lucky Strike's burgers are $11.75 and it's the kind of chain where they feel the need to tell you on the menu that they're "hand made."

                                2. re: mariacarmen

                                  $10 during happy hour? Now to find out what they consider to be happy hour -- not from their lame-o website though :-). But here http://www.missionmission.org/2012/03... it says 3-6 pm along with an explanation of the high price tag on the burg.

                                  1. re: grayelf

                                    http://missionbowlingclub.com/dining also says happy hour is before 6pm. They've been open for two days so I'd cut them some slack.

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      she's not going to be in town until mid-April so they have plenty of slack.

                                    2. re: grayelf

                                      i'll buy that explanation. I remember he really didn't like making them - too labor intensive, he said. same thing with the fish sandwich, which i adored.

                            2. re: scarmoza

                              broken record and rosamunde's tuesday burger are both very very good. And you can wash down your rosamunde burger next door at toronado with a death and taxes black lager.

                              1. re: chuckl

                                So you need to go into Toronado and order your burg there to get the D&T beer?

                                I just found out the Tuesday burger is griddled not grilled. Would it be hairsplitting to ask posters to indicate one or the other in their replies? (I know some people have already).

                                1. re: grayelf

                                  Order the burger at rosamunde first and they will come over to rosamunde and tell you when its ready. And its definitely griddled. I'm not sure why they are so addictive.

                                  1. re: chuckl

                                    Rosamunde's flame grilled patties have a really nice thick crust while still being juicy and flavorful on the inside and - like all others on my favorites list - the bun (actually an onion roll at Rosamunde) is tasty and doesn't fall apart.

                                    Here's someone else's guide to ordering: http://mcduffwine.blogspot.com/2009/1...

                                    1. re: scarmoza

                                      Okay so it's actually flame grilled, cool. But that writeup scared me. I'm severely lineup averse. Is it still an hour plus cooking time or has that settled down since 2009?

                                      1. re: grayelf

                                        Once they open, orders are taken fairly quickly. You'll likely wait in Toronado for 45 minutes before your name is called. They make them in batches so it all depends on where you are in line. If you get there past 11:30 you're taking risks that they'll sell out. Also, it's cash only.

                                        1. re: scarmoza

                                          I've never waited more than about 20 minutes, though that might be beer time. Usually they have burgers at least til 2

                                          1. re: chuckl

                                            That's been my experience as well for the past year or so....20 minutes give or take, the time nicely lubricated by whatever Toronado has on cask. win-win.

                                            1. re: tranewreck

                                              Thanks for the feedback on the waits, y'all. I'll split the difference and call it half an hour, which is most tolerable with a Death and Taxes on tap.

                                              1. re: grayelf

                                                Price to performance - Rosamunde's burger is excellent - it's not a fancy burger - it's perfectly cooked - if a tad under seasoned. Paired with hand pumped ale at Toronado- brilliant !

                                                1. re: osho

                                                  It was pretty tasty, for sure, osho, but I think your burg was a little less done than mine (looked pinker). I was happy to note when ordering that they are indeed grilled at Rosamunde so there was lots of tasty char. Agree they could have used a bit more salt. I had mine with pomegranate cider (!).

                                                  1. re: grayelf

                                                    I ask that they hold the salt on their burgers - too salty for me :^)

                            3. Anyone tried SF Grill, the new burger joint on California St. just west of Divisadero?

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: DavidT

                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/755399

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                                Bistro SF Grill
                                2819 California St, San Francisco, CA 94115

                                1. re: Cynsa

                                  Just wondering if there were any more followup reports.