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best burger 2013

I'm planning my visit to San Francisco/Napa at the end of April. I have read so many threads that have been helpful from all of you SF Chowhounds. The last "best burger" I found was from 2011. Anything new that you'd like to share? Looking for lunch spots.

Thanks in advance!

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    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      What now, a best Bay Area burger thread that doesn't mention the Mission Bowling Club offering? Granted I last had it in November 2012 but it can't have gone so far downhill in the last four months as to overlook it.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        that thread was started in 2006.

        how about the newer 2011 thread you started? :)
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/776932

        1. re: drewskiSF

          That's the one I was looking for. Weird it didn't come up in the search.

      2. Mission Bowling, Ricky Bobby (bacon/beef mixed burger), Super Duper.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Thomas Nash

          Here's my take ...

          On the sorta high end:

          1. Spruce
          2. Seasons at the FS
          3. NOPA

          Casual:

          1. Super Duper - although I think the Mill Valley location overcooks their burger
          2. Rosamunde Haight on Tuesdays - how can anyone resist great beer at Toronado with loads of attitude with that $6 burger?

          1. re: osho

            Super Dupers are really a location by location gamble. The downtown SF locations are pretty solid.

            Have you had the Spruce burger recently? It sure seems like they're using lower quality meat full of the kind of grizzly bits that are impossible to chew through. It tastes more like the Des Amis burger now.

            1. re: sugartoof

              Grizzly bits ? At Spruce?

              Wow that's news to me - last time I went was a few months ago.

              1. re: sugartoof

                >> lower quality meat full of the kind of grizzly bits that are
                >> impossible to chew through. It tastes more like the Des
                >> Amis burger now.

                interesting -- do you know if this has always been the case with the Des Amis burger? (lower quality meat)?

                1. re: Dustin_E

                  I only gave Des Amis one shot, but it was notably lower quality than what I was accustomed to from Spruce, and expected to follow the restaurant groups other establishment not far away. Then the next time I went back to Spruce, excited to get a realy great burger again, I was sad to experience a repeat of my experience Des Amis. I can't recall if this was after Des Amis parted ways with their executive chef, but I know my visit to Spruce was shortly after the changeover in the kitchen.

              2. re: osho

                Seasons has morphed into MKT, unless I'm mistaken. You had the burger before the change, or since?

                1. re: Frosty Melon

                  Before .. - haven't had it more recently.

                  My visits to the FS have been cut down because of the bar remodeling - is that a done deal?

            2. Gioia Pizzeria..... I thought the pizzas were silly, but the burger using Three Dot meat is by far the most flavorful burger in the city.

              Past favorites were Spruce, and Nopa. I'd hesitate to still recommend Spruce's burger now that it appears they're using lower quality ingredients.

              8 Replies
              1. re: sugartoof

                I hadn't heard of Gioia's burger or Five Dot Ranch (you missed two dots, LOL), so thanks for the tip.

                5 DOT BURGER – Shoe String Fries, Dill Pickle /14
                Buttermilk Blue Cheese/Cheddar 1.5 / Bacon 2/ Caramelized Onions 1

                Is their burger equally good at the SF and the Berkeley locations? Can you recall if it is griddled or grilled?

                1. re: grayelf

                  The Berkeley location has only pizza, Caesar salad, and cannoli.

                  1. re: grayelf

                    Yikes, it won't let me edit to fix that. Five Dots!
                    Glad someone caught that.

                    The fries are really unique, almost more of a chip. At first I thought I'd miss having heartier fries, but it just works. It came with about 6 slices of an extremely nice heirloom tomato, banana peppers, and their house cured pickles. I seem to recall the details of the cheddar being interesting too, but I don't recall. It was a harder, sharp white cheddar.

                    It's a thicker pub style burger, but loosely packed, and not massive. They insisted on cooking it rarer than I normally like, because of the meat they use, and what arrived was even more rare to the eye. They were right. It was all well thought out, and a good combination of classic with unique. I'm not sure how they cooked it, but if it was grilled, they didn't fuss with it, or do any spatula smashing.

                    All the sandwiches I could see at tables next to us looked good too.

                    I've never been to the Berkley location.

                    1. re: sugartoof

                      That sounds worthy indeed, sugartoof, thanks for the additional details. I don't like "fancy" burgers as much as more traditional ones and this sounds right up my alley. I will be burger-centric on our next trip it seems, what with Mission Bowling being a must, this burg and Kronnerburger's cheeseburger http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/892488 all shortlisted.

                      1. re: grayelf

                        This might crossover into fancy burger territory for you (certainly the fries), but it's pretty simple. I can't think of a burger in SF with better ingredients. It's a little delicate actually, with a soft bun that still manages to hold, the minimal handling of the meat, and the thin potatoes. It's the kind of burger that gets better with each bite though. I would only go at lunchtime.

                        Haven't had Kronnerburger, but the old Tartine burger that spawned it was a knockout. I mean that in terms of flavor and just being meaty.

                        None of these are Shake Shack style, by the way, but you probably knew that.

                        1. re: sugartoof

                          Sounding better and better! I love shoestring fries, and a soft but not Wonderbready bun is a fine thing. I don't know what a Shake Shack burger is like as we don't have them in these parts but I'm guessing you mean it's not fast foody which is fine with me!

                          1. re: grayelf

                            Right, not...a thin, griddle smashed burger that's almost a slider. Shake Shake, Gots, SuperDuper, In and Out, etc.

                            The shoestring fries really are more like chips. Difficult to describe. There's probably a photo online that will do a better job. They're different, and maybe inventive.

                            1. re: sugartoof

                              I like this kind of burger sometimes and since it is still 2013 with 8 months left to go in the year, I will just jump into this thread.

                              My fave griddle-smasher burgers:

                              Ahns
                              Super Duper (complimentary pickles=awesome)
                              In 'n' Out

                2. Southern Pacific Brewing. Marlowe is still good.

                  1. I had a terrible (nearly inedible) burger from MBC 2 weeks ago. I love redness and juice, but the inside was literally raw chuck and made me feel kind of queasy. Worst though, was the unbalanced proportion of MBC "special sauce" which was totally sickening. They slathered on that mayoey goop so heavy that the burger was drowning in it and turning a ghastly whitish-pink as it mixed with the bloody juices from the near raw inside. Again, I love my burgers cooked towards the medium side of medium-rare... this was definitely leaning heavy on the rare side and was almost like a tartare sandwich slathered in mayo. I couldn't finish more than a few bites and should have sent it back. The fries were also oversalted to the point of being inedible. I've been to MBC twice prior, both this past year, and both times had an excellent burger. Not this time, and if I ever return (which I probably will) I'm requesting a plain cheeseburger without the gross white sauce that still haunts my stomach to this day. Oh, and the burger/bun is waaay too big. I hate oversized burgers that don't fit in your mouth. A requisite of good burger should be that it can easily be picked up and bitten into. I hate the fancy burger trend of big sloppy sandwiches that need to be cut in half to be eaten. That goes against burger principal and MBC is guilty of this.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: OliverB

                      The sauce is caper aioli.

                      Non-fast-food burgers are often big enough that they're easier to eat if cut in half. That's not new or specific to fancy restaurants.

                      1. re: OliverB

                        I had a somewhat similar experience about a month ago. Overall I didn't think there was anything wrong with it, but I also found the aioli a little much. Not my thing.

                        1. re: dunstable

                          My policy on this is that I order the first one "as the chef intends" and then decide from there what I want to do in the future. In the case of the Mission Bowl burger, I will never again let them put the aioli on it. The fact that it is a caper aioli makes it even worse--I like pickles as the only tangy thing. I do always specify "no mayo" , as I think it's an abomination (east-coaster). But I give "special sauces" an "aioli," etc. one chance. I like the Sidebar sauce, do not like the Super Duper sauce, am OK with the garlic spread at Grand Tavern... but in general I like my burger pretty plain--some Dijon and a tiny bit of ketchup and I'm good.

                        2. re: OliverB

                          I had that burger in May and still found it delightful. Maybe an off day for you...

                          1. re: mariacarmen

                            I and two friends had the burger a week or so again, and we all loved them. First time for my friends. Perfectly cooked, juice but not sloppy, and not overly salty. Heaven.

                          2. re: OliverB

                            I had one at happy hour today. Was cooked properly, not too much aioli, properly caramelized onions. The only thing that kept it from being the best burger I've had in town is that it was too salty.