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Cheeseburgers at Red's Java House [SF]

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.

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  1. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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

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

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

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

                  1. re: curiousgeo

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

                    1. re: curiousgeo

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

                    2. re: curiousgeo

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

                    3. 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. 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

                          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

                            the Bourdain burger joint is named Sam's

                            618 Broadway
                            San Francisco, CA 94133

                            1. re: curiousgeo

                              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

                                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. 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

                                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. 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

                                  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.