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Cheeseburgers at Red's Java House [SF]

curiousgeo Apr 14, 2012 11:30 AM

Thinking of stopping for lunch one day for cheeseburgers and maybe some onion rings. Our other planned lunch will probably be at Yank Sing for dim sum, so thought Red's would be a great contrast. Any thoughts or comments on your experiences there? Seems like a classic SF lunch place which kind of appeals to me. Thanks.

  1. wolfe Apr 14, 2012 12:09 PM

    I like it. Good view, free parking. Last time I said it I was in the minority because of high price, poor meat, lousy roll, dive atmosphere et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.*

    *Yul Brenner, The King and I"

    1. m
      ML8000 Apr 14, 2012 12:10 PM

      Don't expect the cheeseburger to be good. It's average at best, on the greasy spoon middling side. That said, it's cheap, it has a view, get a beer wash it all down. If it's a nice out as today (clear, bright sunshine), it won't matter.

      1. little big al Apr 14, 2012 12:17 PM

        I'm a huge fan of Red's, but more for the ambience than the food. The cheeseburgers in particular are unexceptional little pre-formed patties cooked on a flat-top and served on a dull roll with yellow mustard. A better choice is the fish and chips (see if you get get them to put a little more "fry" on the chips ). The corned beef hash was a favorite for a while, but the last few samples suffered from wildly underdone potatoes. Sometimes there is a corned beef sandwich which should be good. But it's the real deal and I'd rather eat something second rate there than anything at that fake-o bushwa Fog City Diner. Explore the specials, and enjoy the scene.
        Also the bar has a very generous pour on their moderately priced drinks.

        1. Robert Lauriston Apr 14, 2012 12:19 PM

          It'll be a contrast, that's for sure. To me that's a waste of a meal for someone on a short visit, except for the sourdough bread and Anchor it's the same generic American crap you can get at a greasy spoon anywhere in the country.

          1. t
            trespinero Apr 14, 2012 12:41 PM

            It's not about the food there, it is a place I can ride my bike to with my kid, have a beer and watch the 49ers with minimal fuss or uptight yuped out crowd, or any crowd. I group it with Tommy's as an sf institution not a culinary destination. It's funny I didn't go to either one of these places for my first 18 years in the city and now I love them both.

            1. c
              curiousgeo Apr 14, 2012 12:56 PM

              Thanks for all your responses. Somehow I thought it would be better regarded than this, but that's why Chowhound is such a great resource. Would the Grubstake be a better choice? Wanting a really good cheeseburger, but also looking for a SF institution/classic kind of place and vibe, a greasy spoon is fine if it fits the bill. Thanks again.

              6 Replies
              1. re: curiousgeo
                Robert Lauriston Apr 14, 2012 01:01 PM

                Really good burger at an SF institution, maybe Original Joe's.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  curiousgeo Apr 14, 2012 03:20 PM

                  Oh, did Original Joe's re-open? Same ownership? I know it was closed for the longest time.

                  1. re: curiousgeo
                    Melanie Wong Apr 14, 2012 03:36 PM

                    Re-opened, same owners, better than ever (but with higher prices and smaller portions). I owe you a report. Go there.

                    1. re: curiousgeo
                      Robert Lauriston Apr 14, 2012 04:18 PM

                      It's in the old Fior d'Italia space at Union and Stockton. Same family, grandchildren of the original owner.

                      1. re: curiousgeo
                        DavidT Apr 14, 2012 05:06 PM


                        I had lunch there 2 weeks ago. Very tasty!

                    2. re: curiousgeo
                      Civil Bear Apr 14, 2012 06:24 PM

                      I like Grubsteak a lot, but it isn't open for lunch.

                    3. m
                      ML8000 Apr 14, 2012 07:19 PM

                      Classic SF and good/great burger for lunch? Zuni although it's not dive-y or inexpensive...or landmark like Red's.

                      Anyone have the burger at Original Joe's at the old Tenderloin location? Or is the burger at the new location just good?

                      1. c
                        curiousgeo Apr 14, 2012 08:44 PM

                        Now that I think about it, I may do Original Joe's for dinner. Ribeye steak and spaghetti sounds good right about now, since I haven't eaten dinner yet. So Red's still may be a lunch option as the Grubstake wouldn't be open yet.

                        I remember a show where Anthony Bourdain ate a burger in North Beach, late at night that looked interesting. I think they served beer too, kind of a dive looking place where folks went to sober up. I have no clue what the name was.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: curiousgeo
                          Eugene Park Apr 15, 2012 12:21 AM

                          That place is on the corner of Broadway & Columbus, where North Beach and Chinatown converge. It's right next to the New Sun Hong Kong restaurant. I've passed by it a bunch of times late at night to get to the Vietnamese place next door (nothing like pho at 2AM to clear your head from a night of revelry)......

                          1. re: curiousgeo
                            drewskiSF Apr 15, 2012 07:42 AM

                            the Bourdain burger joint is named Sam's

                            618 Broadway
                            San Francisco, CA 94133

                            1. re: curiousgeo
                              grayelf Apr 15, 2012 08:59 AM

                              Grubstake is open for lunch on weekends per my recent fairly obsessional research on "regular" cheeseburgers in SF. My iPad lameness precludes linking to that long thread but search on elf food if you are interested. FWIW I would walk over people and/or hot coals to get my mitts on the burger at Mission Bowling Club again. Even better if it is $5 off during happy hour but so very different than Red's of course.

                              1. re: grayelf
                                The Chowhound Team Apr 16, 2012 01:28 PM

                                We split some discussion about the Mission Bowling Club out so people would find it more readily. You can find it here: http://www.chow.com/topics/844487

                            2. wolfe Apr 15, 2012 09:34 AM

                              Reds, outside on the patio, looking up at the bridge and across the bay, protecting your food from the large gull eyeing your food, priceless.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: wolfe
                                The Librarian Apr 15, 2012 04:05 PM

                                I agree! The food is not the point at Red's. It's a dive with great atmosphere, mediocre food, and incredible views. I did once win an order of fries there by answering the day's trivia question correctly (although one of the cooks mouthed the right answer to me when I hesitated)...

                              2. bbulkow Apr 15, 2012 02:04 PM

                                There's just so many places we never talk about here

                                How are the burgers at The Ramp? Fun crowd / vibe / view.....

                                Although less cool now that they've built the UCSF campus. I was down there last week and --- wow.


                                1 Reply
                                1. re: bbulkow
                                  ML8000 Apr 15, 2012 02:35 PM

                                  It's going to change even more. The Giants have announced a new giant mulit-use development where the parking lot is now. It's quite amazing the change in 10 or so years since the ballpark went in. I use to work a few blocks from 3rd and King before the park went up. Wow is about right...and it continues way down 3rd past Dogpatch. Just for You Cafe serves a burger but I've never had it.

                                  Around the ballpark, some people like the burger at Brickhouse, kobe beef, huge...but they over cooked it twice (past med-rare) so I gave up. Some people also like the burger at South Park Cafe, served on a baguette, it's pretty good.

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