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Burgers and coffee, that's elf food, apparently -- your thoughts solicited

Coming to town for another visit April 11-16. Most of our meals are mapped out but we’re looking for a couple of things: an outstanding burger and any new/new to us coffee places we should check out. I know both of these can be controversial but we’re not looking for the “best” of either, just suggestions on versions you think I might like a lot and why (for example, see the things I like in a burger below if you want to play along!).

Some will say I am “wasting” a meal on a burger, but where I’m from (Vancouver BC), there are only a handful of places that are allowed to serve burgers made to order, and so far none of them are great (the best one is closing in ten days, sigh). I like a fairly standard burger, not too many unusual toppings and prefer a good white bun (no whole wheat and no focaccia – I’m looking at you, Zuni!) that should be toasted and not too big and pouffy. I also appreciate a very plain patty, grilled with good char, no filler or seasonings apart from salt and pepper, and definitely no onions or other vegetable matter in the meat itself. A burger without fries (or even more ideally onion rings) verges on blasphemy for me, and it’s hard to get both well executed so that would be a bonus.

Re burgs, we haven’t got much under our belt in SF but were inspired by the great offerings in Portland recently. So far we’ve only tried Marlowe (meh, bun was wet and fries cold), Burger Joint (surprisingly good for airport food), Anchor Brewing (ditto) and Bix (tasty if a bit underseasoned but way too much cheese, can’t believe I’m saying that) plus the Rosamunde Tuesday burger (sadly overcooked). Could be high or low end but probably will be a lunch stop. Reviewing the most recent “best burgers” threads and assorted best ofs, blogs etc I came up with: Grubstake (conflicting reports), Super Duper (surprised how many Hounds like this one; not sure you can get it to order), Pearl’s, Tupelo’s (candied bacon, cheddar frico), Bill’s Place (Giants’ Burger), Metro Caffe, Lark Creek Steak (fries sound good), Perry’s, Roam, Nopa (good fries too; lunch w’ends only), Bullitt (had to include one dive bar), Chez Maman (partly for the show at the counter), Serpentine, Slow Club (good fries), and Mission Beach Café. I noticed there are a lot of reccs from outside the city but was thinking to stick with SF proper for now, though I might be persuaded otherwise :-).

When it comes to coffee I think I am a second waver but the SO is into the third wave stuff so we tend to go more to those cafes. He prefers to drinks cappuccinos whereas I rather like your Gibraltars.

We’ve tried Blue Bottle (all but the one near Jack London), Ritual on Valencia, Four Barrel on Valencia, Contraband, Coffee Bar on Montgomery, Grand Prix, Ma’velous, Jane, Sightglass, Phil’s, Delise, Grand Prix, Reveille and a few others I’ve overlooked I’m sure. We have Fourth Wave on the radar, anything else we should be checking out?

Thanks in advance for your comments and ideas!

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  1. If you get over Oakland way, try Mua's burger.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      I am wondering if I'll have to cast a wider net to include the East Bay in the burg hunt, just not sure we'll have time this trip. The Mua one does sound like a contender for what I'm seeking.

    2. I do really like the Slow Club burger but I was surprised at how much I liked the burger at Epic Roasthouse. I know people may blast it, and it is crazy expensive, but it's huge and comes with a platter of fixings so you can top it how you like. If it's nice outside there's not much better than sitting outside for lunch w/ a burger and a beverage.
      Sadly one of my fave burgers was the mini-burger at Thermidor. Sad because they are no more...

      Slow Club
      2501 Mariposa Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

      Epic Roasthouse
      369 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

      8 Mint Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94103

      3 Replies
      1. re: margieco

        I thought of one more... Citizen's band.

        The bonus - they use buns baked next door at Pinkie's bakery, and their bacon is tasty.

        Pinkie's Bakery
        1196 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA

        Citizen’s Band
        1198 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103

        1. re: margieco

          Finally had the burger at Citizen's Band a few weeks ago and agree it is solid. Should've taken a photo. Burger was cooked to order. I think it was bested soon thereafter by Southern Pacific Brewing Co.'s burger, also cooked to order. I posted a photo of that one in a thread about SPB, which has an outdoor seating area (nice if weather cooperates and is not too crowded).

        2. You're right that Super Duper doesn't cook to order, but it is still a good experience for what it is, with well-sourced meat, the all-you-can-eat pickles, good selection of drinks, etc.

          Prather Ranch has a new spot in the Ferry Building making burgers, definitely made to order, and other tasty items. http://prmeatco.com/american-eatery/ And next door at Frog Hollow you can try some Verve coffee.

          In Oakland, a couple of other option are Flora's burger, which comes with great fries and a salad dressed with too much blue cheese dressing; I order the burger w/o cheese and use some salad instead. Luka's Tap Room also make a good burger, and really great fries. Both of those options are fairly near Blue Bottle's Jack London HQ.

          11 Replies
          1. re: foodeye

            I visited the Super Duper in Mill Valley a couple of weeks ago and really liked it. The cheese burger was ordered and delivered med/rare, the meat was very tasty (tho' next time I will order the sauce on the side) the garlic fries good (tho' next time I will order extra crispy) and those home made pickles, which you dip yourself from the pickle jar) are superb. The tab was $12 which included a large draft beer and I left totally satisfied. Will return.

            1. re: foodeye

              Despite the restaurant-sounding name, Prather Ranch's American Eatery is just a takeout place in the hall, and they cook to order only if you order medium.


              Luka's burger is good, or used to be, but I stopped going because of the noise and impossibility of getting in without a reservation.

              Places with lousy fries can't make them much better by leaving them in the fryer. Good fries take considerably more work.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I had a good burger and excellent fries at Luka's within the past three months. I was with a large group and we did have a reservation, although I've not had a problem with dining without one when we've gone early. I didn't think it was extremely noisy (again, it was early) Very nice beer selection also.

                1. re: susancinsf

                  i'm not a fan of that type of fries - the fat, steak-type fries. I prefer the really skinny ones, but that's just personal taste; other than that, their fries aren't bad. i remember the burger being good as well. i went recently at around 6:30 and the noise was pretty intense. we actually asked to be moved to the back table nearest the pool room, which helped. but i'd still go back - they have a lot of other really good food.

                  1. re: mariacarmen

                    Luka's fries aren't the fat "steak-type" style, they're Belgian-style, like Frjtz's, medium-sized with a square cross-section.

                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                  In The City for everyday burger craving I like Mo's in North Beach. The fries are thin cut from real spuds and fried crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle. Le Garage makes a fine upscale (read "Kobe Style beef, about $15 with great, very French fries and Aioli) burger. No one has addressed the onion ring issue. To that end, consider the burger at Alfred's, a fine example of the genre available with fries and onion rings ("string" style). I still remember fondly one of the best french fries of my life from there. It was a french fry that had been sitting under the onion rings and had absorbed some of their flavor. ("Ants mouse worse waddling." from "Ladle Rat Rotten Hut".) Nothing better!

                  1. re: little big al

                    I'm going to put a solid +1 on Mo's. If you thought burger joint "was surprisingly good for airport food" (the mother is in the mission, 19th and valencia), you'll like the Mo's burger, which is an everyday burger entirely in the right direction. Great char, solid meat, not too fancy in any particular direction. I'm not sure it's worth going across town for, but if you're staying in greater-union-square it's a solid option.

                    Re: the slow club burger: It's the same burger over at Serpentine, but I like the space better, and the rest of the menu is better, and the cocktails are better. If you're making a special trip, try Serpentine.

                    Mua's burger is good. Worth a trip from wherever you are in the east bay. Better than Luka's, and a better environment. More other fun stuff on the menu - but a real sit-down place, not just a Joint like Mo's.

                    Don't forget, you can also sample the latest in LA imports at Umami Burger up in the Marina district. I haven't eaten one yet, and both the fact that they're from LA and in the Marina means it may be a long time.

                    One fun burger is the Zeitgeist burger. The perfect hour at Zeitgeist is a sunny saturday or sunday afternoon at about 2pm hanging out with the 20-something mission-ites, their favorite beer and tunes, and one of those burgers. It's fairly basic charcoal and patties, but the freshness of the beer and the atmosphere make up for a lot.

                    The pastrami + burger combo is killer. We have it on the peninsula at the Refuge, where you can get a burger topped with pastrami. I'll keep an eye out on that Wise & Son's burger.

                    No one has stood up for Pearl's Deluxe, or UrBun, or SuperDuper, or BurgerMeister or BigMouth or Gott's or Barney's or Acme, or Max's, or Mel's or Bender's or Slider's. I used to crave Barney's quite a bit, and even had one yesterday, but the world has moved past them. Mel's and BurgerMeister make a decent non-charcoal burger, but only OK. Gott's only makes sense if you're *right there* and hungry, even then you should order the Ahi burger. Slider's on Polk is underappreciated - they use the same char contraption as Mo's but somehow the meat isn't as good - I still eat there when I'm doing a gig at the regency around the corner. The others I haven't eaten. I wonder sometimes if ChowHound doesn't get frightfully inbred - there's a lot of other good food out there.

                    re: coffee, I'm not sure there's much new since your last visit. You might try your way over to Local 123, but it's a haul, and even further is Barefoot, which I suspect is best categorized as Third Wave - I get confused sometimes. I drink mostly four barrel when I'm feeling flush, and Costco when I'm not.

                    1. re: bbulkow

                      For the local chains, I think Super Duper does the best job, and I've gone there a bunch of times. I like that you can get tons of pickles there too.

                      When you take away all the crazy toppings, Barney's burgers just aren't that good. I'd be game for trying Burgermeister again, but the pasty low quality blue cheese on top of their blue cheese burger was so overwhelming that I've been reluctant to go back.

                      1. re: bbulkow

                        I haven't been to Barefoot since they were sold. Are they still as conscientious as they were ?

                        1. re: bbulkow

                          BurgerMeister earns a big fat no from me.
                          BigMouth is one of my favorites for fast-food type burgers
                          Barney's meat has a weird texture, anymore, for me.
                          Mel's? oh no.

                  2. They don't serve burgers, but Outerlands in the Sunset does something no other restaurant does in San Francisco, and maybe everywhere for that matter. They treat coffee with respect and skill. they use coffee from Sightglass and whether you order a pour over drip or an espresso drink, your drink will be the equal of it's supplier.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: poser

                      I would not recommend Sightglass to anyone who's not a fan of third-wave coffee.


                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Agreed on Sightglass - at least for drip. Incredibly acidic/caffeinated probably due to the very, very light roasting. Also gave impression of a lighter/watery cup of coffee.

                        Haven't tried espresso from them.

                        1. re: goldangl95

                          I'm afraid you are mistaking bright-citricy for acidic/caffeinated. Two complete different things. As for whether they would like the coffee? GE already said they had gone to Sightglass, and her husband is a third wave fan.

                          1. re: poser

                            I'm afraid I'm not mistaking the two. It was highly acidic/caffeinated - as in burning a hole in my stomach. This was true for a person who regularly drinks 3 cups of coffee a day and from one who drinks one cup of coffee a day. I'm sure some appreciate the flavors that this type of light roasting brings out - I did not. It may be because we got drip?

                            For the record, we like Blue Bottle and Ritual (and Intellegentsia when we get it) - all who are grouped into 3rd wave. Sightglass seemed even more extreme than any of those.

                            1. re: poser

                              Citric flavor comes from citric acid, one of the 50-odd acids in coffee. Third-wave roasters favor more acidic beans. The lighter the roast, the more acid is retained.

                              I asked the guy at Sightglass for their darkest roast. I can't honestly call it undrinkable, since I choked down a couple of cups, but most of the incredibly expensive, repulsively acidic beans are still in my freezer six months later.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                We did indeed go to Sightglass, twice when it was a kiosk and once since the buildout was completed. We both liked the coffee better the first time, which could be the result of a number of variables. Neither of us enjoyed the atmosphere in the finished room, which is a personal preference. As indeed is liking the coffee there (or not!). I did find it a bit stomach-burny FWIW.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  "but most of the incredibly expensive, repulsively acidic beans are still in my freezer six months later."

                        2. Grubstake makes a burger that's as good as your high quality diners, but it's not in the same league as a lot of higher end places are striving for. Likewise, I had the Marlowe burger at their new place, Park Tavern, and didn't think it was up to the reputation.

                          My two favorite burgers are from Nopa and 4505 Meats. The pickled onions help justify the use of a Nopa's brioche bun, but you may still have a problem with it since your preference is a white bun. I wasn't a huge fan of the bun at 4505 meats, but the meatiness of their dry-aged burger is astounding.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: hyperbowler

                            Is 4505 only at the Sat FPFM? If so, it will have to be another trip. I have had breakfast from them and really enjoyed.

                            1. re: grayelf

                              That's the only place I've seen it

                              1. re: hyperbowler

                                Perhaps this isn't what Grayelf seeks but just posting it out there - Baker and Banker also makes a 4505 burger during brunch. I really like Baker and Banker for brunch. They serve Four Barrel coffee and always have a lot of savory choices on the menu. Here's a cut & paste from their brunch menu:
                                Seared 4505 Burger
                                poppy seed challah roll, roasted garlic aioli, French fries
                                add cheese 1.5 applewood bacon 2 farm egg 2

                                Baker & Banker
                                1701 Octavia Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

                            2. I like the burger at Wise Sons Deli, it has pastrami ground into it. Everything from pickle to the bun is house made. I particularly like the bun. Their pastrami on its own is too lean for my tastes, but adds a nice smokiness to the burger. (The rest of the menu items I've tried have been average, though the place has a nice neighborhood atmosphere.)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: wanderlust21

                                I went there yesterday based on your recommendation. That was a mighty fine burger indeed! And the potato salad was lovely and dilly, too.

                                I also had some of the club sandwich. While I wouldn't choose the club over a burger, I thought it was really tasty. I like the fried pastrami instead of bacon uniqueness of it too.

                              2. Original Joe's recently reopened in North Beach, after a fire destroyed their home in the Tenderloin. I suggest an old school burger experience ordering the incredible Original Joe's hamburger sandwich with fries.

                                check out the menu at originaljoessf.com

                                1. so i just posted this on this other thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7769... (i hope i did the permalink thing correctly) - which you actually posted on before, grayelf - and while i am bemoaning the price of their burger, it is a damned fine burger. they use a method they describe thusly :

                                  * granulation is our term for the process popularized by Heston Blumenthal, a michelin 3-star chef based in London. Blumenthal combines strands of ground meat to create a loosely grained "meat column" (not Blumenthal's phrase), then slices the column into patties. The result is, well, a delicacy.

                                  it really was delicious. $15 delicious? dunno....
                                  maybe something to think about... tho it may be a scene as it's just opening up next week....

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: mariacarmen

                                    wl21, not gainsaying the yum factor on adding pastrami to a burg but I am seeking a plainer version this time.

                                    Rapini, does the burg sando at Original Joe's come on bread or a bun? Though I am a fan of the patty melt, I'm really keen to find a burger with a bun as I described.

                                    mc, thanks for clarifying that the burger at the new Mission Bowling Club is the late, lamented one from Mission Foods/Duc Loi. I really do want to try it. Maybe things will have died down a bit by the time we come and we could consider it.

                                    1. re: grayelf

                                      and again, after the railing i've done at the price, i may have to join you. it was a REALLY. GOOD. BURGER.

                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                        and i'm going to check out mua's burger for you tonight. for you, not for me. i'm a giver.

                                        1. re: mariacarmen

                                          alright so we had the burger. we split it, asked for it with white cheddar, medium rare. we cut it in half and it fell apart, but was really tasty. it had a ton of umami going on - in fact, we both tasted a touch of truffle oil somewhere in the mix, but the menu didn't say that. it was perfectly medium rare, nice crust, good soft bun - maybe a little too soft, as it was hard to keep the thing together when biting down on it, but no matter still good. the fries that came with it were lukewarm and stuck together. we should have sent them back but didn't. the lamb cheeks we ordered as an appetizer were falling apart tender but also a little burnt on the outside, and needed salt. and came well after the burger came. a salad of asparagus and egg was pretty good - heavy on the tarragon, but the asparagus was a little overdone. overall not bad but i'd not rush to go back. the place tries hard to achieve urban chic, and is cavernous and loud, but not enough so that you can't hear each other talk. service was a bit slow but friendly - i arrived 20 minutes late for our res and they sat us almost immediately, even though they made someone else who had no res wait. if i was in the area, i'd sit at the bar and order the burger.

                                          1. re: mariacarmen

                                            I have been known to sit at the bar at Mua's and enjoy a burger. The meat is really flavorful and always cooked to order. The fries used to disappoint, but now I make a point of leting 'em know that I like them crispy and warm. The service is definitely slow, and that's ok cause the point is to sit and relax and talk.

                                            But I have NEVER been anything but thrilled by the lamb cheeks. So I'm surprised, MC, that yours came a little burnt (tho to be honest, I'd probably enjoy that). And as you say, they are so tender and juicy.

                                            1. re: escargot3

                                              but flavorless. i would not order those again. and i ADORE lamb.

                                      2. re: grayelf

                                        Last time I had one, and it's probably still the fashion, Joe's comes on a hunk of crusty french bread, sliced down the middle to make a "bun". Holds up well to the juicy meat.

                                        1. re: grayelf

                                          The new Original Joe's serves burgers on crusty sourdough.

                                            1. re: drewskiSF

                                              I saw that but couldn't tell for sure what the bun/bread was, so thanks all for clarifying.

                                        2. Not mentioned yet is the Fivetenburger truck, which makes my current favorite burger. Nothing fancy about it at all (though they do have a grass-fed version for a couple bucks more), but every component is excellent: a great bun that's nicely toasted, a well-seasoned and nicely charred beef patty, housemade pickles, etc., etc. I order it medium-rare (hold the off-season tomatoes) and eat it standing up.

                                          They make garlic fries, which I haven't tried yet so can't vouch for them...

                                          If you're not coming to the East Bay this time, I believe Fivetenburger is in the regular rotation at the UN Plaza Off the Grid.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: abstractpoet

                                            I agree, Fivetenburger is in a league of it's own. I suggest the aged white cheddar on the burger. I wasn't that impressed with the truffle tater tots, but the garlic fries (of very generous serving size) is almost a meal in itself.

                                            1. re: arktos

                                              Thanks for the info on fivetenburger, especially that it's at the UN Plaza OTG. Not here on Tuesday this time and Thursday we were thinking of Cotogna for lunch but very much on the radar now!

                                          2. Have you had the chorizo burger at Front Porch? It's totally over the top rich and heart attack inducing - but a must try for SF hamburger enthusiasts. They also serve a locally roasted, small batch, dark roasted chicory blended coffee that you both might appreciate.

                                            For espresso drinks - have you been to Borderlands Cafe? They serve ECCO Caffe.

                                            It's still the season of single origin African coffees at the moment. There are some real beauties from Kenya and Ethiopia roasted by Blue Bottle and Four Barrel that I'm loving - but they're not best for espresso preparation or drinking with milk (or sugar).

                                            The Front Porch
                                            65 29th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                            Borderlands Cafe
                                            870 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                            6 Replies
                                            1. re: scarmoza

                                              Grayelf stipulated that he wanted a "standard burger." I haven't had one in a while, but the burgers I've had at Perry's still call to me, and the fries are good too, though, if I remember right, a bit thicker than I like them. No chorizo or pastrami ground into the burger meat--just fresh ground chuck on a proper hamburger bun, always medium rare as ordered.

                                                1. re: TopoTail

                                                  Yup, this female elf is lookin' for the basics, all due respect to what sounds like a great burger. Borderlands duly noted, haven't tried Ecco yet (I take it they're in Santa Rosa).

                                                  1. re: grayelf

                                                    ECCO might have their new San Francisco café and roastery open by mid-April.

                                                    1125 Mariposa St (at Mississippi)
                                                    San Francisco, CA 94107
                                                    Neighborhood: Potrero Hill

                                                    1. re: scarmoza

                                                      Now that would be great news indeed. it has been a long time since the rumors started.

                                                      1. re: scarmoza

                                                        Just found out we might have reason to be in Potrero Hill that Sat so duly noted and will investigate further.

                                                2. I like the burger at Slow Club, probably because the meat is from Prather.

                                                  An interesting option is the newly opened Tayyibaat in the tenderloin around the corner from saigon sandwich. Halal fast food restaurant filled with muslim families when I went. It is kind of an odd combination of traditional Afghan kabab plates with burgers and fries. When I was there, it looked like the parents were getting traditional plates for themselves and burgers for the kids. http://www.yelp.com/biz/tayyibaat-mea...

                                                  Can't vouch for the burgers but my chicken kebab plate was quite tasty, especially for fast food. There was probably more than a smidge of msg in the rice though. if only they dumped the coleslaw and served bolani instead.

                                                  1. I quite enjoy the cheeseburger club at Liverpool Lil's on the edge of Presidio Lombard Gate. Granted, it's served with toast for a bun (meets the toasted requirement at least :). But it's juicy and darned tasty. Omit the bacon if you will. Comes with decent fries. Only available at the bar, not in their dining room.

                                                    1. Monk's Kettle does a good burger, it's not cheap but it's good. They also have a huge beer selection if you drink.

                                                      I eat at Chez Maman every couple of weeks but I don't go there for the burger. The frites are awesome.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: tjinsf

                                                        I forgot, we did try the MK burg a few years back (I think there was a chef change in the interim?) and it was pretty good. Love the beer options there!

                                                        Chez Maman is getting some votes for both fries and burgers... although people have said SF is not known for its burgers, I could easily do a week of them just from this list.

                                                        1. re: grayelf

                                                          the chez maman burger is good but the steak frites, the mussels are just so good too I get those usually. It's a tiny place just a heads up so there maybe a wait. you can grab a cafe at Farley's while you wait.

                                                      2. My favorite SF burger is at Nopa. Second probably Slow Club, though the 4505 burger mentioned by many others is great, if fry-less.

                                                        1. The Slow Club also pours a very good cup of coffee, if you want to kill two birds. They use Graffeo beans.

                                                          It's probably too far out of SF for you, but I'm fond of Jack's Prime in San Mateo. An excellent "plain" burger and several variations, including one with bacon in the burger and bacon mayo. The sweet potato fries are very good.

                                                          Slow Club
                                                          2501 Mariposa Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                                          Jack's Prime
                                                          3723 S El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA 94403

                                                          1. Surprised no one has mentioned Wayfare Tavern and their Burger "Le Grande"?? It comes on a brioche, which I think falls within the bun specifications. Pricey, but worth it. And the fries are tasty as well. Reservations are a must.

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: mariacarmen

                                                              I can't comment on the burger as I only eat beef occasionally. But in general, I found Wayfare Tavern average. Food is fine, service is fine, atmosphere is fine. Wouldn't mind dining there again - but wouldn't go out of my way either.

                                                              I would compare the food level to Maverick or Hudson (College Ave. Oakland).

                                                              1. re: Eugene Park

                                                                Wayfare's burger is topped with huge quantities of cheese, bacon, and caramelized onions. I like the place but that's not my idea of a burger.

                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                  Thanks all for the new suggestions. I'm not a fan of onions on or in burgers, and I think too much cheese throws off the balance (see my note re Bix burger in the OP) so maybe no Wayfarers burg for me.

                                                                  1. re: grayelf

                                                                    No onions? Well, there goes my suggestion for the freezer section for White Castle burgers :-)

                                                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                    not to mention they don't know how to cook a burger "rare", the meat is underseasoned, and the fries are awful

                                                                2. I've been to almost all of the places mentioned here, and many others, and I must strenuously if respectfully object to the current frontrunners. I've only eaten at Mua once -- it was a completely acceptable and enjoyable burger, but it didn't come close to making a run for the Top 10. Ditto Slow Club. That said, they're worthy of mention, and great places to go. Luka's, though, has taken noticeable turn for the worse, and I can't see how a visitor would put it on a list of Bay Area to-do's. 510burger's good, and I'm always happy to see their truck -- but unlike a handful of other food trucks that are actually quest-worthy, I wouldn't tell a Canadian visitrix to go out of her way for it.

                                                                  I haven't eaten the 4505 or Mo's burgers, and can't wait to try, based on reviews here.

                                                                  My top vote: Sidebar, in Oakland. Consistently, gobstopperingly, revelationally good. Second: Nopa or Marlowe, depending on the day. Honorable mention: Grayson 900.

                                                                  And a quick remembrance is in order here: RIP Namu's Korean-influenced burger.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: uberslop

                                                                    back in the day, Mo's was my primary 6-napkin burger/medium rare hot and juicy - I could devour it before the bun disintegrated at the Mo's on Grant. Then, our late night burger was at the original Clown Alley but only the Columbus Ave. location that closed in 1993 ... unfair to compare Mo's to these gourmet burgers: I still love a Mo's juicy burger. I can get my Rosamunde Tuesday burger rare and that makes me happy. btw, the burger at Bluejay's on Divisadero near Golden Gate has beets in the burger and believe it or not - it's oddly tasty.
                                                                    I missed the boat and never had the exalted Namu kimchee burger cooked over sumi charcoal, no Marlowe burger yet - I haven't made it across the Bay Bridge to Mua in Oaktown. No excuse for not trying the NOPA burger - I can walk there.

                                                                    1. re: Cynsa

                                                                      Second Chance to taste the Namu burger when it reopens on March 31, 2012 as Namu Gaji. Namu Gaji - 3579 Dolores St. at 18th Street. San Francisco

                                                                  2. Coffee-wise, I adjure you to try Local 123 if you're in the East Bay. Absolutely as good as it gets.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: uberslop

                                                                      I think I am more confused now than when I started, but I really appreciate everyone's input and I am thinking of having the SO set up a burger spreadsheet to help make my decision. Kidding (sort of).

                                                                      I plan to try more burgers on future trips so your suggestions have been logged, spreadsheet or no!

                                                                      And if anyone else chimes in for either burgers or coffee, I will capture those too.

                                                                    2. Two recs I haven't seen yet:
                                                                      - the burgers at Street on Polk are awesome but don't get enough chatter around here considering how good they are. I haven't been to that neighborhood in about a year, so I don't have recent experience, but hope they are still great. They make a certain amount of custom blend for their patties each day, and when they run out, they're done. Good fries, solid cocktails, more fun to eat at the bar.

                                                                      - cafe Sophie in the Castro for good Verve. I like their espresso drinks best and have been particularly charmed by their chocolate drinks--mocha and hot chocolate

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: pane

                                                                        Thanks for the new thoughts, pane. Don't tell anybody, but I loves me a good mocha ;-).

                                                                      2. I've gone through a few of the michelin star places ---
                                                                        Campton Place bar burger
                                                                        Boulevard burger at lunch
                                                                        One "best burger" list, I don't think any of these have been discussed --
                                                                        Citizen Band
                                                                        mission beach cafe

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: bbulkow

                                                                          spork is gone.... it's now Rice Bowl, and soon to be condos.

                                                                        2. Nearly finished the food itin and thought I'd run it by y'all in case I've let any frogs creep in (not the tasty kind but rather the kind you don't want to kiss!):

                                                                          Wed: Canteen dinner

                                                                          Thur: Shanghai House lunch
                                                                          Local Mission Eatery dinner

                                                                          Fri: Cotogna lunch

                                                                          Vientian dinner

                                                                          Sat: ????? lunch (maybe Poc Chuc, Chava's, Bodega Bistro, Mandalay)

                                                                          Mission Bowling Club happy hour for the famous burg

                                                                          then Radish

                                                                          then drinks at Hog and Rocks or Wo Hing (I quite fancy the look of their non-

                                                                          alcoholic bevvies)

                                                                          Sun: Redwood City Mexican for lunch

                                                                          Lers Ros or Bar Tartine (yes, split personality, I know)

                                                                          Mon: Harrow or Sotto Mare or another burger for lunch at Tupelo

                                                                          Coffee places targeted: Fourth Wave, Swank, farm:table (Starter kouign amann here!), Sophie's, Ritual in Flora Grubb Gardens, Four Barrel -- mainly for Belinda Leong's kouign amann, The Social Study, Jeremy Tooker's cart under the tent (and the huge list I compiled last trip will be on hand for caffeine emergencies)

                                                                          long list of snacks to fit in as and when, including the housemade dog at Café des Amis if we are in Cow Hollow and Delica's takoyaki at the Ferry Building. Who knows, maybe this'll be the trip I finally find Rocky and his frybread :-).

                                                                          16 Replies
                                                                          1. re: grayelf

                                                                            And while you're at it, compare & contrast: Starter Bakery's kouign amann vs. La Boulange's version.

                                                                            1. re: grayelf

                                                                              hey grayelf, i did homework for you (i'm such a giver) - here's my review of Local Mission Eatery: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7882...

                                                                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                Thanks mc I cut and pasted :-).

                                                                                Rapini, I've only tried ka from Starter in SF and Little T in Portland thus far so I welcome the chance to try other versions. I didn't know La Boulange had it so thanks for the tip. I've been to the Hayes Valley branch and the one on Fillmore but it was before the ka quest began!

                                                                                1. re: grayelf

                                                                                  Local is consistently delicious. I think they just opened a new eatery called Local's Corner very close to the original location. Do you mind my asking why Radish? That place seems totally average compared to the other places in the neighborhood.

                                                                                  1. re: possumspice

                                                                                    have you eaten there PS? i haven't, and we liked the look of the menu. it's so close to my house, i was hoping it would be good....

                                                                                    this review of bfast sounds great: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/796496
                                                                                    despite some iffy reservations issues....

                                                                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                      The dinner menu does appeal with the combo of local and a touch of Southern, something we don't have at home. It's too bad they haven't updated their website from fall 2011 but they do say the menu changes regularly and is only a sample. Where nearby would you recommend over it for an early snack on a Sat night after a Mission burger, possum (or whoever wants to answer!)?

                                                                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                        I have eaten there for lunch. My husband and I found it to be below average, despite the promising sounding menu. We had a lackluster salad (not particularly fresh veggies, poorly dressed), bland, soupy mac and cheese, and a baffling bowl of kale stew, which was huge chunks of undercooked kale in a watery broth. Kale is one of our favorite veggies and we gladly eat it raw, baked, sauteed, in soup...Granted, we went a day or two after they opened, so it's possible these issues have been remedied.

                                                                                        In terms of what I would recommend for a snack, Minako is quite good and you may be able to get in if you go on the early side. Their tuna with mint sauce and salmon with pickled plums are both excellent. They also have a nice eggplant dish. It would be more of a light meal than a snack. You could also grab an empanada at Venga or Chile Lindo. Or you could get salads at Gracias Madre. Whatever salad they're serving with fruit (it often changes, grilled pineapple or persimmon have been two of the ones I've tried) is usually excellent.

                                                                                        For Southern food, I love Front Porch, but that's in Bernal and not exactly a place to grab a light snack. If you're just going to be looking for a small bite, you could also get appetizers at Wo Hing to go with your cocktails. It's a little overpriced and not super-authentic, but at least the food there tastes pretty good. Oh, or if you can get spots at the bar at Bar Bambino, they have some good small plates like the truffled egg bruschetta and their eggplant polpettine. If Mission Cheese is still open (they close at 8), that's a good place to get a cheese plate and a glass of wine. Lolo on 22nd does really creative, interesting small plates. Their shrimp tacos on a slice of jicama are really tasty, and the beets and brussels sprouts are other good small things to order. I could go on... :)

                                                                                        1. re: possumspice

                                                                                          Thanks PS. I agree it's difficult to judge a restaurant so soon after opening. I like the idea of Mission Cheese, and i haven't been to Bar Bambino in ages. And I've still not been to Lolo, even though i live directly behind it! I'm also game for trying out Wo Hing.

                                                                                2. re: grayelf

                                                                                  I would skip Bodega Bistro, the quality of food has gone way down hill over the last couple of years while prices have gone up, they were out of many dishes the last time we were there and we actually decided to not finish our food and go to another place nearby for dinner.

                                                                                  1. re: grayelf

                                                                                    Make sure to ask for the Lao menu at Vientian. The regular menu has a lot of overlap, but it's not complete. The Lao sausage is great, and i really like their mixed pickle. At least this week, they had some delicious jerky for sale at the counter for takeout.

                                                                                    1. re: hyperbowler

                                                                                      Thanks possum, duly noted. I was considering getting some snacks at Wo Hing just cuz!

                                                                                      Useful but sad info on BB, tj. I had the dish that sent me on a bo luc lac quest there several years ago and I've still not found a better one. Perhaps best to leave it crowned in memory...

                                                                                      Good reminder re that Lao menu, hyper! We asked for it when we went in November and noticed that there were a few Lao items on the main menu that weren't on it so will peruse both with a hawk eye. The nam kao is a must, the sai ooa and prolly the mok pa. I think they were out of the mixed pickle last time so we had the mustard greens, also good. They had the jerky for sale which we eyed but were flying out too soon. Maybe this trip we can try it!

                                                                                      1. re: grayelf

                                                                                        Also, I love Vientan. Definitely try the nam kao, lao sausage, and sticky rice (Lao sticky rice is way better than steamed rice). My other favorites are kao poon (red curry/coconut milk soup) and the BBQ short ribs. My wife's fave is the kao piak (like Lao chicken noodle soup).

                                                                                    2. re: grayelf

                                                                                      I would pick the Ritual stand in Hayes Valley over Flora Grubb.

                                                                                      Also, if you can find Bicycle Coffee, and De La Paz they are worth adding to your list.

                                                                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                        Thanks for the reccos, sugartoof. We tried that Ritual last time and actually it was a bit disappointing. We are going to FG for the nursery so will prolly grab a coffee beverage while there just for completeness :-). I have De La Paz on the list for November when their soon-to-open shop should be in full swing. We did get some DLP beans to take home last time.

                                                                                        The SO tried Bicycle Coffee at the Grand Lake farmers' market last year and thought it was really solid, though it was not his usual espresso-based choice (apparently they only do brewed coffees there).

                                                                                        1. re: grayelf

                                                                                          Add Piccino Coffee Bar to your list. It's in Dogpatch (a little remote, unless you're visiting Mr. & Mrs. Misc. ice cream), and they use Sightglass beans (which you've tried), but it's an underrated take out stand with really nice house made pastries from their restaurant around the corner.

                                                                                          De La Paz beans really fluctuate in my experience, but when they're good, they're startlingly good, with really unique flavors.

                                                                                    3. Looks like you're pretty well set but in case you're still looking, I'm a big fan of burgers at Bistro SF Grill. It sounds like you're looking for well made straight-ahead kind of burger, which this place does quite well, but if you're feeling a little more adventurous I was totally blown away by how good the lamb burgers were. They also have gator, bison, boar, and God knows what else. Good stuff. http://bistrosfgrill.com/

                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: caffinatedmints

                                                                                        Thanks for that, but I am looking now specifically for Monday lunch which is causing me a bit o' grief. I just realized Tupelo only serves brunch/lunch on the weekend so that's out, as is Bistro SF Grill, same reason. Back to the list!

                                                                                        BTW if anyone knows where I can get sour beer(s) on tap (apart from Toronado, which is aces), please advise.

                                                                                        1. re: grayelf

                                                                                          If you like sour beer, you should plan a trip to the Trappist in Oakland. It's three blocks from BART. They've had as many as five or six on tap. Monk's Kettle and La Trappe are two possibilities in SF.


                                                                                          1. re: grayelf

                                                                                            City Beer Store. You can call to see what their selection is that day, and if they're featuring any sours.

                                                                                            1. re: pane

                                                                                              Have they added more taps? I count 15, they used to have maybe five.


                                                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                Yes, when they doubled the size of the space, they increased the number of taps. I was there this afternoon, and there were 15 beers on tap, and I think two sours. Also, probably ~10 sour bottles in the fridge that can be consumed on premises with a corkage fee. I'd pick it over Toronado any day.

                                                                                                1. re: pane

                                                                                                  +1 City Beer Store over Toronado for both standard and esoteric beer selection minus attitude.

                                                                                                  FYI grayelf - just in case, City Beer is closed on Mondays.


                                                                                                  1. re: osho

                                                                                                    Looks like a trip to City Beer is in order! We've been to Monk's Kettle, and I think both La Trappe and Trappiste have a lot of Belgians which the SO is not fond of (gotta keep the auxiliary belly happy!) so somewhere like CB sounds perfect. Will avoid Monday...

                                                                                                    Adding Shotwell's in case we get a chance to deak in there on Sat night.

                                                                                                    Spruce Burger got shot down on the bun, IIRC (yes, I am being a picky purist but you can't believe how hard it is to get a good regular burger at home). Mo's is the current front runner for the reasons stated, plus convenience on Monday.

                                                                                          2. Has the Spruce burger slipped through the cracks? Don't see it mentioned yet, unless I missed that. The bun might be a little distracting for the OP's tastes, but it's a really good burger.

                                                                                            Otherwise, reading the OP's comments, it does look like a Barney's or Burgermeister might hit the spot. Mo's too. They're fast food burgers with classic sesame seed buns and the like, but they're hearty versions, usually with good meat.

                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                              Okay I think we have liftoff:

                                                                                              Wed: Canteen dinner
                                                                                              Thur: Shanghai House lunch
                                                                                              Local Mission Eatery dinner
                                                                                              Fri: Cotogna lunch
                                                                                              Vientian dinner
                                                                                              Sat: ????? lunch (maybe Yamo for tea leaf salad then Mission Chinese for a dish or two, or Inka's for the chicken and yellow sauce)
                                                                                              Mission Bowling Club happy hour for the famous burg
                                                                                              then Radish and/or drinks at Hog and Rocks or Wo Hing or a sour beer at Shotwell's
                                                                                              Sun: Redwood City Mexican for lunch
                                                                                              Lers Ros Larkin for dinner if I can get a reservation -- must call ASAP!
                                                                                              Mon: Harrow or Sotto Mare or another burger for lunch at Mo's

                                                                                              plus snacks etc as mentioned above but now including City Beer if possible

                                                                                              1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                Sounds great. I don't think it's hard to get a reservation at Lers Ros.

                                                                                                1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                  If it's a nice day, you could also check out Sycamore for your Sat. lunch, they have a little back patio and are beer/wine only, with a nice bar menu. they have sliders too, if you want a pre-burger burger! of course, if it's a very nice day, every hipster will be back there too. although, i've noticed it's not as bad on Saturdays as on Sundays, when they serve brunch. i've been there at 2:00 p.m. on a Saturday and found empty seats.


                                                                                                  1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                    Looks good, but I'll express a voice of dissent on Local Mission. I was someone who suggested the place back when it first opened, but I don't think it's worth wasting a dinner on now.

                                                                                                    When you really look at the menu, there's not a lot on it. Rabbit, Quail, Pork Shoulder, Halibut...those are your 4 entree like choices unless you want to make a meal of garlic soup, or polenta. The food just isn't on the level of the other places you're considering. I've witnessed some questionable practices in the open kitchen, and wouldn't go back based on what I saw. I also think there are some issues with freshness, and stretching ingredients.

                                                                                                    The attached bakery also strikes me as a bit overhyped. I've had really good items there, but nothing which touches Tartine, or even the Boulangerie chains for that matter. They're often sold out, or presented in such a way that you can't be sure what they have. I've never seen the place stocked full, but they must be baking more than 4 cookies at a time.

                                                                                                    Depending on your visit, Namu Gaji may be open (their previous incarnation had a nice burger too), or maybe Mission Cheese (though even more limited than Mission Local), just to add an alternative suggestion and be a little constructive here. Outerlands is another idea, as a replacement for Mission Local.

                                                                                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                      you're the first voice of dissent i've heard about LM! we found on a recent visit that the polenta egg entree was very filling and deliciously satisfying, and you can also order asparagus, brussells sprouts, or the squid appetizers in generous portions. We also very much liked the pork shoulder, and found it almost too much food. well, not too much, but we certainly didn't leave hungry. can you tell what questionable practices you saw in the kitchen? the only thing we didn't like is the seeming reluctance of the chefs to engage with us regarding their food....

                                                                                                      i find the hype re the bakery absolutely deserved, and think the exact opposite of its goods in comparison to Tartine now. Though i went early enough (10:00 a.m. on a Sat. morning) where there was plenty of everything I wanted.

                                                                                                      To your above post,

                                                                                                2. to further muddy the waters, i just heard from a co-worker about this place:


                                                                                                  not sure if it's been reviewed here....

                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                      Reminds me that Polkers, Sliders, and Frankie's Bohemian also make the style burger the OP seems to like.

                                                                                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                        Thanks for the additional ideas and input. Piccino added to big coffee list divided by neighbourhood (I carry this around for coffee emergencies). Burger places also (Pearl's was on the list already), and Sycamore noted -- I had it on my brunch list already but hadn't heard much otherwise.

                                                                                                        I'm loving the sound of the polenta dish at LME, so may stick with it. Also sorta thinking about Maverick since they have an online deal there but not sure it's better/worth it, and whether it's similar to Hog and Rocks where we may be going that evening (apparently they are affiliated). The Buffalo crispy sweetbreads intrigue -- Chow cred loss here, I've yet to try sweetbreads.

                                                                                                        1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                          "The Buffalo crispy sweetbreads intrigue -- Chow cred loss here, I've yet to try sweetbreads." YUM! I'm heading there asap.

                                                                                                          1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                            are the sweetbreads at H&R or Maverick? i was unimpressed by the food at H&R (but only went once) and liked the food at Maverick (but only went once, years ago.) LOVE sweetbreads!

                                                                                                            and you could not lose Chow cred if you tried. unless you came out here to do an all-Applebees tour...

                                                                                                            1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                              Sorry that was rather unclear: the sweetbreads appear on Maverick's online menu.

                                                                                                              I've never been to Applebee's, only seen it on Friday Night Lights. Maybe I should check it out... NOT!

                                                                                                      2. I can't remember if anyone mentioned Roam Burgers on Union near Octavia. There are a lot of choices and I enjoyed my burger here. Next time I want to try the scorched marshmallow milkshake.

                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: walker

                                                                                                          Uh oh, you've hit on a weakness of mine, burnt marshmallow. I decided to call and they add the bruleed 'mallow to the top of the drink for a buck so it's not a flavour per se. Roam was on my list in the OP and kinda fell off. The fellow said they have seating so it's not just a takeaway and they can cook to order. Since it's open 7 days for lunch it's sounding like a good target.

                                                                                                          1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                            I've only eaten there once; got the burger with truffle salted fries .. got the fries on the side instead of inside the bun.

                                                                                                            1. re: walker

                                                                                                              Ack, I just realized we're flying out of Terminal 3 instead of International this time. I hate to drag the SO to a different terminal before embarking. SF Eater said in late 2011 that Perry's, EbiSu, Burger Joint, Yankee Pier and Cat Cora were the five "best" at SFO. Assuming that is true, Perry's and Cat Cora are out as they are post-security and different terminals, been to Burger Joint, Ebisu is in Intl, so should we take Eater's word for it and try Yankee Pier? I've checked out the menu and it looks okay, plus it happens to be RIGHT where our plane leaves from.

                                                                                                              1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                                Terminal 3 is pretty large, so there are a lot of food options.

                                                                                                                Here's a list for the entire airport:


                                                                                                                The pre-security options in the International Terminal are good, if you have enough time to walk between terminals. It's not really that far to walk. But if you don't have extra time and/or the security lines are long, then the options within T3 are not bad. Yankee Pier is part of a regional chain, never tried their airport location. If you just want a lighter meal there is a food court area in the middle of T3 with lots of counters to pick and choose from. Firewood for little pizzas, Just Desserts for treats. I also like Emporio Rulli (not in the food court a little walk away) for pannini and a better than airport-average wine selection.