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Hamburgers - SF Dish of the Month September 2013

The SF Bay Area Dish of the Month for September 2013 is Hamburgers!

The goal of Dish of the Month is to collectively try as many versions of hamburgers as possible during the month of September! So let's start exploring and eating—report back with reviews and photos.

This will be a great chance to return to long-time favorite places, and also try some new burgers that you haven't tasted before.

Here's a link to the this month's close vote: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/914671

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  1. My favorite is the burgers at Original Buffalo Wings on Lombard believe it or not. They also do great shakes/malts. It's not that pretty inside, but they also have cheap beer specials. I actually don't like their wings.

    I wonder how many people who rate burgers in SF have had one in the South.. eg like Atlanta. I have consistantly had amazing burgers in the south, even in weird places like the airport or the ballpark. I suspect they tend to use 70/30 or even 60/40 beef.

    8 Replies
    1. re: sfchris

      I would have never thought to try the burger there. I have been known to pick up an order of the house made chips for the ride home though...

        1. re: eethan

          Don't knock it until you try it. Beef fat tastes great! In fact, it's really why we eat beef.

          1. re: sfchris

            I have no fear of beef fat, but that ratio astounds me. I've tried 75/25 at home and found it definitely too fatty---but who knows, maybe there's some blend and technique that can make it work. I'd be game to try it, if anyone makes one here.

            1. re: eethan

              I usually do 80/20, but on occasion I've gone up to or a little past 25% fat. I normally am obsessive about cutting the fat out of my meats, but I enjoy the fattier hamburgers if the meat isn't grounded too finely (ie. like a hand chopped consistency).

            2. re: sfchris

              The question is if you still get a burger at that ratio?

              Does the patty hold so you can pick it up, without swimming in juices?

              1. re: sugartoof

                Oh, easily. I regularly make burgers for friends who always slice them in half at the start, and their buns are never too soggy even at the end. Personally, I like my burgers on the rare side, so it's not like I've cooked the juices out of them either.

                In fact, most "high-end" burgers I've asked about have 20-25% fat. 4505's is usually 20-25%, Pat LaFrieda likes 23%, the Morton's steakhouse chain is 20%, and Heston Blumenthal's crazy labor intensive recipe ends up with 25%, I think.

                I've even heard of 70/30 ratios being used in famous kitchens. Again, if you are worried enough to ask, then you probably don't want to know (it's like how many sticks of butter went into that classic meal you loved).

          2. re: sfchris

            I have had that burger. As I remember, nice chew to the roll, none of this brioche. I liked the burger a lot, for a griddle cook, and for the price.

          3. Not quite September, but close enough.

            Breakfast this morning, as it is almost every Saturday this time of year was the 4505 Meats "Best Damn Cheeseburger" at the Ferry Building, with add-ons of both egg and tomato.

            This is one of my favorite burgers year-round, but I think it is even better this time of year with the addition of the tomato. The acid and slight sweetness of the tomato serve as a contrast to the salt and fat of the patty, which is rarely cooked past medium rare, despite how thin it is appears. The standard burger includes "secret" sauce, lettuce and onion and is served on a housemade scallion-cheese bun.

            Note that along with the markets they attend, they have also been serving the burger at their butcher shop on Sundays.

            1 Reply
            1. re: absc

              I had a not quite September burger at Rocker Oysterfellers in Valley Ford. Large 1/2 lb. Asked for Medium rare, came medium. Very juicy, with Baconnaise and grilled red onions(my choice). Chiabatta bun that was very good. Sturdy and flavorful. Came with pickles and tomato slices. Fries with peels were quite good.

            2. So I went to Mission Bowling to try the burger everyone has raved about lately last Saturday for lunch with a friend. We each ordered the burger with the mayo on the side (heard it is too heavy and best ordered so you can add as you like) and I ordered my burger medium rare as recommended with an english muffin as I tend to prefer a thinner bun. The burger was indeed delicious but was so salty that I left thirsty until the following day. My dining companions burger was not overly salted and near perfection. So, perhaps my patty was an unusual error. My favorite burger in SF remains to be the one at spruce- bar none. I still need to try the one at Nopa and Marlowe. Curious if anyone else had a similar experience at MBC.

              3 Replies
              1. re: mcw

                My MBC burger was also salty but I assumed it was due to the caper aioli.

                1. re: mcw

                  I too felt that burger was too salty, but otherwise really good.

                  1. re: mcw

                    I wasn't impressed. Found it too greasy and oversalted and didn't come with interesting condiments.

                  2. Epic Roasthouse, BAR AREA ONLY. In the evenings, a delicious house ground cheeseburger, fries, beer (or juice or soda) and brownie is only $20.

                    I recently had the cheeseburger from Broken Record and loved it.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: walker

                      Good to know the burger at Broken Record still ranks even after the changeover in chefs.

                      1. re: sugartoof

                        Yes, the Broken Record cheeseburger was a take out order that did not get to me for about 30 minutes. Can't wait to actually eat one there! (My daughter had gone there and brought back brussels sprouts with goat cheese, really delicious. She loved the sorta Mexican corn on the cob but I did not try it. They had the whole fried catfish and loved it.)

                        1. re: walker

                          Thanks. Considering Rickybobby doesn't even do takeout, and they seem to be purposely trying hard to get a rep for poor customer service (which I've experienced first hand)...that's good news.

                          1. re: sugartoof

                            The to-go burger was part of my daughter and her husband's regular meal; don't know if they regularly do to-go orders .. best to give them a call I guess.

                    2. I finally had a chance to try Kronnerburger in the Mission this past week. It was excellent. They executed my request of medium rare perfectly. This tends to be a problem for most places I try. I usually end with medium, which ruins the experience for me.

                      I believe the burger was $11 and I got the addition of bone marrow for an extra $4. I wouldn't opt for this again. The marrow gets lost amongst the burger. If you have a hankering for it, order the marrow appetizer with toast instead.

                      The service was efficient and very friendly. I love the dark ambiance. I believe they are more cocktail focused as there was only one red wine by the glass available and it wasn't anything to write home about. I also tried their onion rings which are tempura style. Quite good with a mayo (chipotle?) dipping sauce on the side.

                      I definitely recommend this place. I'm going to put it up there with my other two favourite spots for burgers, Mission Bowling Club and Magnolia.

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: ChervilGeorge

                        They serve drinks, but I wouldn't call them cocktails (milkshake with Scotch, for example).

                        I don't like their burgers much either. Too fatty. But it's a fun spot.

                        1. re: ChervilGeorge

                          i agree with all of this. unfortunately, they're moving to oakland soon, closing down in the Mission spot on 11.22.

                          they're not making the bourbon milkshake anymore, either. but they did have a very good spicy tomato juice blended with some good dried peppers (maybe chipotle), in a shotglass, alongside a shot of mezcal, and a tecate beer. went really well with the burger. we also tried the patty melt this time - same juicy burger patty, on acme pain de mie (i'd have preferred rye, but it was still really good.) we also had the iceberg lettuce salad, with these wonderfully salty/smokey/fatty chunks of bacon. really excellent. the other thing we noticed about the burgers was that the lettuce and tomato were very fresh, not at all wilted. it's a great burger. i'll go again before they close, and watch for their opening in Piedmont.

                          and, not sure if anyone mentioned this yet, and not in the City, but Oakland, but Hopscotch's burger is wonderful-just had one again yesterday. it's got beef tongue in it and it's juicy and super beefy. along with their duck-fried chips - excellent combo.

                          1. re: mariacarmen

                            We must have hit Hopscotch on a really, really bad day for lunch, about three months ago. Three of us had uniformly awful meals: burger, fish'n'chips, fried chicken. We compared the duck fat chips to the regular chips and there was very little difference. We've had some great duck fat chips elsewhere, so not sure what the problem was. Sigh.

                            1. re: jaiko

                              wow, sorry to hear! 4 of us were there this weekend and split the chicken, the burger, the chips, some padron peppers, the uni oysters... everything was uniformly great. my second time there, both times a hit. i do agree there's not much difference between their duck fat chips and their others, but they're still really good. plus i love their cocktails, and the space.

                              1. re: mariacarmen

                                The SO thought the Kronnerburger was his favourite of recent memory and really appreciated the fresh fixings. I liked it but was not transported, finding it a little underseasoned. It's also quite small which was a good thing that evening as the server brought us two instead of the one we ordered.

                                My favourite is still Mission Bowling Club's, reconfirmed this past Wednesday at happy hour :-).

                                Second favourite is Hopscotch's which I also shared with mc. We were a bit worried because it looked more well done than medium rare but it was juicy and delicious, lots of beefy taste and a bit of char. Definitely craveable.

                                1. re: grayelf

                                  i'm going to try to get back to kronner burger this week before they close. and yes, the hopscotch burger was delish.

                                  1. re: grayelf

                                    Is the Mission Bowling Club burger still discounted at happy hour?

                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                      It's $10 for just the burger. Regularly, it's $15 for the burger and fries. I can't really see paying $5 for fries when I'm really after the burg, so it works well for me!

                          2. My list in order of preference:

                            Super Duper (all round best)
                            Mission Bowling (excellent, order rare with extra sauce)
                            Ricky Bobby (mixed "bacon" and beef)
                            Joe's Cable Car (pricey but very good)
                            Burger Meister
                            In and Out (someone please explain why this chain is worshipped?)
                            Burger King

                            (I should add that way above anything on this list are the sliders at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas. With foie gras, Robuchon's ketchup and fries, but not in the Bay Area.)

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: Thomas Nash

                              In and Out (someone please explain why this chain is worshipped?)

                              Well it tops your list of burgers under $2. It may very well top the list for burgers over 2-3 x's that price. I suspect its biggest fans don't plop down over $10 for their burger fix very often.

                              1. re: Civil Bear

                                I also don't "get" In-n-Out at any price. Just another wafer-thin cooked-to-death fast-food burger. My favorite is still Phyllis' Giant Burgers on the Miracle Mile (extension of 4th St) in San Rafael, still only $5.50 for a 1/2 pound burger done your way, including grilled onions (free) by request. Next would be Pearl's Phatburgers in downtown Mill Valley.

                                1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                                  >>"I also don't "get" In-n-Out at any price. Just another wafer-thin cooked-to-death fast-food burger."

                                  Just another fast food burger that isn't frozen or processed, and served with fresh lettuce and tomato (and grilled onions on request). You can also order them medium rare and they will come still pink in the middle.

                                  No where near my favorite burger, but by far the best of the fast food chains.

                                  1. re: Civil Bear

                                    >You can also order them medium rare and they will come still pink in the middle.<

                                    Thanks, I didn't know that. If I'm ever forced to go there I'll remember it.

                                    1. re: Civil Bear

                                      Re In-N-Out: Don't partake often, but a Cheeseburger Animal Style satisfies when the craving for "fast food" strikes, like when making a quick pit-stop on horrendous Hwy 5...

                                      Our experience is they are always clean, no matter the location. Order takers are always efficient, pleasant and polite.

                                      1. re: RWCFoodie

                                        >when making a quick pit-stop on horrendous Hwy 5.<

                                        Next time try Tita's Restaurante y Pupuseria, Buttonwillow exit 257, East side of I-5, across the frontage road from McDonalds. You'll find several reports here about the place.

                                        1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                                          Tks Malcolm Ruthven: I read about Tita's on CH many years ago and we've stopped there and enjoyed it. We've changed our route to cutting over to 99 then 395 and connecting with 10 in Redlands - TMI I suppose but we made that route change to avoid the whole Grapevine thing and the LA basin.

                                          I always think fondly of Tita's. Actually when we went, I don't think they had the outpost close to 5. We drove into the town West of 5 where the original Tita's was located and had a very delicious lunch. It was a sit-down restaurant. This must have been maybe 10 yrs ago or so.

                                    2. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                                      In n Out is about the cheese, for me, not the meat. The exact balance of crispy, sharp, cheese, fatty... it's nice.

                                      1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                                        We're doing a house exchange in MV over Christmas. Should check this out. Thanks.

                                  2. At one time we loved the Kobe burger (not the regular burger) at Duck Club@Lafayette Park Hotel/Lafayette, but sadly a return trip to try the new chef was a huge disappointment. Cost-cutting has brought everything, not just the Kobe burger, to subway-level lows. Very sad.

                                    Vault 164/San Mateo, however, makes such a fabulous burger my spouse is still talking about it - and he isn't a burger fan! (My tequila lime steak sandwich was pretty good, too.) The fries are second rate, but wow, that burger! We are picky about the mix being salted and rested before cooking, and Vault did a great job. It tastes like a mix of chuck and brisket. So flavorful, doesn't need any ketchup or mayo. Even better, they do what most places have forgotten needs to be done: THEY TRIM THE BREAD. Top and sides, so the burger is perfectly matched to the toasted brioche bun. It holds together under the juiciness and yet is tender. Great job.

                                    La Calaca Loca in Oakland's Temescal makes a surprisingly excellent Mexican burger with Jack cheese and pickled green chiles on top. Again, the meat is salted beforehand. What makes it is the bun. The telera they use is wonderful. We object to overly bready, high-domed buns that look impressive but all you can taste is carb overload.

                                    We also love the foie gras burger with truffle sauce at Bouchee in Carmel, our favorite French restaurant. Thick, perfectly medium rare all the way through, great crust, great bun. At first you think, "Now, that's just too much sauce on top, puddling down onto the plate." But then as you pick up the burger and chow down, you realize that there is precisely the perfect amount of dark, rich, luscious, just-enough-but-not-too-much truffle sauce. It's our favorite lunch in Carmel; we've been going there for several years and it's perfect every time.

                                    As mentioned here by several people, we agree that Hole In The Wall/Sebastopol's lamb burger is amazing. The lamb, according to Chef Adam Beers, is Colorado lamb raised in CA (no details on how that's accomplished, LOL) and the most excellent bun is from Santa Rosa's Franco-American Bakery. This is lamb the way it should taste. Neither too mild, nor too gamy. This is richly flavorful: ground just right (not too coarse, not too fine), salted in the grinding and cooked to a flawless medium-rare. It wasn't so thick that it couldn't be cooked properly all the way through. Nor was it so thin that all the juices would run out. It was perfect with just that great bread, a slightly spicy mayo spiked with harissa and some very good early tomato slices, and a single leaf of curly lettuce.

                                    Otherwise, I make 'em at home: a mix of organic ground beef, ground bison, my own 'secret sauce' (and no, I'm not telling anyone what I use except that you can go to any Chinese grocery store and experiment to your heart's delight). Let it sit for at least three hours, then grill, melt some Gruyere on top, and serve, preferably on a Mexican telera bun.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: jaiko

                                      Another + vote for Adam's Lamb burger at Hole In the Wall in Sebastopol.

                                    2. Greater palo alto report:

                                      Palo Alto Creamery: Long my favorite burger in town. Unassuming, comes with fries, very bright fresh taste. Not charred, regrettably, toppings could be better, but if you Just Like Meat and you want to have dinner for less than $20 out the door (and have a drink - shake or wine) this is your spot.

                                      The Refuge : The star here is the pastrami-topped burger, which must be singular (now that fois-topped has vanished). Worth a detour for that burger alone.

                                      Palo Alto Grill : Claimed by GF as the best burger she's ever had in her life, ever. Vanished quickly. This place puts a lot of char on the steaks, and loves packing the grill with peppercorn. Brioche. On the shortest list for a re-do (as in, I get to eat one.)

                                      SteakOut : Firmly planted in the new school. Far better than Umami etc. Small for the price you pay, I always wish for more patty and less bun. Excellent interesting toppings.

                                      Scratch : Lunch only. Very solid, well cooked, well seasoned, but other than once or twice I always end up getting the pastrami at lunch.

                                      LB steaks : Very high priced burger, but clearly made from the scraps of the rest of their operation, very high quality meat, minimal toppings in a good way. One of the best in town.

                                      Left Bank MP : one of our "default burgers". They make both a standard beef (which we rarely get) and a Lamb Burger (which is not a HamBurger per se). We get these at the bar and are very pleased.

                                      Cafe Epi : Advertises their aged burgers and kobe burgers, this might be the sleeper for best burger in town. Toppings are minimal and that's a good thing. Goes best with the grilled asparagus.

                                      Martin's West : it's easier to find a inside out dragon roll (or a wet carnitas extra crispy) in RWC than a decent burger, and Martin's West almost wins by default. It's a mighty fine burger, though - juicy, light roll. Could have a little more "meat" taste, but still great.

                                      The Old Pro : Honestly, I may or may not have had the burger here. They sell these 99oz "beerzookas", AND they have Opus One by the glass. I think it's a decent burger, but you go to The Old Pro for the mechanical bull and the big screens and they JUST HAPPEN to have very solid food but you don't remember the food that much.

                                      NOLA : A very solid burger. They have two on the menu, the Clover and the "other", I always get the Clover. It's some form of griddled and steamed, very juicy, great fresh toppings. When I'm craving a burger, I'm craving NOLA - and a fine selection of beers like Abita that go best with a burger.

                                      Oasis : Old school. Fat patties, french rolls, pitchers of beer. Very satisfying but not in the new school of hyper burgers.

                                      Dutch Goose : also very "old style" like the Oasis. Nothing wrong with the burger but wouldn't make any new-fangled list.

                                      Jeffrey's : A lot to like. The burger itself is at least hand formed, and the DIY toppings are the only way to go. Not in the super fancy league, but certainly addictive.

                                      City Pub : A very nice burger. On the better side of solid. Some plusses and minuses in the overall experience: nice outdoor seating. Little else on the menu worth eating. Very fresh beer. Potato wedges instead of fries.

                                      Patty Shack : more of a beer place with a window at the back. Burgers are served very rare (like, get a medium if you like your burger cooked through). A bit too thin for my taste.

                                      Coupa Cafe : Very solid, and exceptional fries, but hard to order the burger when there's so much great Argentinian specialties.

                                      Clarke's : Honorable mention, great charcoal flavor, patties are a little thin (the old school), DIY toppings.

                                      Village Pub : On the Michelin Starred Burger list, get it at the bar, off-menu ask for truffles (used to be able to get fois), very very good.

                                      Mayfield Bakery : Very highly regarded burger, very nice restaurant experience, but I always wonder what might be keeping them from the very top ranks of burger-dom. Bun? Toppings? Aging?

                                      SliderBar: very expensive for what you get. Too much sauce. slightly better then meh.

                                      The Office : I love the place, the burger is solid. Nothing that special to say.

                                      The Counter: Terrible service, average burger, meh. Do not understand the appeal.

                                      Umami burger: meh.

                                      Tied House : solid, nothing special.

                                      Kirk's: real charcoal makes above average.

                                      Gordon Biersch : sure. Goes with beer. Above average.

                                      Johnny Rockets : sure, whatever.

                                      Max's : sure, fine.

                                      Baji's Cafe : meh --

                                      Workshop : dear god no.

                                      Five Guys, In n Out, etc --- you know em, they're the same here.

                                      burgers I have not had:
                                      St Michael's Alley - often has burgers
                                      University Cafe - probably solid, everything else is
                                      MacArthur Park
                                      Crepevine - should be average
                                      Menlo Hub - should be average
                                      Lyfe - not sure about this place
                                      Angelicas - nice enough place
                                      The Cask - new place in San Carlos, looks fancy
                                      DownTown - just started up, not encouraged but could be good

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: bbulkow

                                        Jeez but you eat a lot of burgers, bb! For the greater Palo Alto area, this list is the hamburger analog of Sushi Monster's Japanese or Melanie's Bay Area ramen lists.

                                        ETA: You should visit Steins Beer Garden and Restaurant a few times to try some range of theirs. Classy kitchen; house ground of course; makes its own buns; classic French-bistro fries; several garnish options; a little pricey, naturally.

                                        Also after Tied House belated started taking its food program seriously a few years ago, it set up an expanded hamburger menu. Regular burgers are house-ground and have been well seasoned; and you can get not only the common beef alternatives, but game burgers; the game changes with availability.

                                        SteakOut (already recommended) has a particular flair with lamb burgers of various creative, mediterranean garnishes, thanks possibly to the participation of expat Mediterranean personnel in the business ever since the first one of them re-tooled it from being a sit-down Mediterranean restaurant.

                                        1. re: eatzalot

                                          Stein's is on the list, along with that pizza place you're always on about. I should have recommended it when GF suggested Howie's, we just know Howie's is a great no-stress option and we were both pretty tired..... we're in a little bit of a pizza rut between Vesta and Howie's.

                                          Good to hear that Tied is doing better food. I had a burger there moderately recently and I think I remember it was above average. It's a little hard to judge Tied cleanly because they've been around so long, in that first wave of brewpubs (like GB). I remember clearly the Tied House in Alameda, that was a white elephant.

                                          24 years in the bay area, I probably cook a meal a month, some years I was up to a meal a week, but rarely. That ends up being a lot of casual eating.

                                          1. re: bbulkow

                                            Indeed. I started using MV's Tied House 20-some years back, and it was once or twice a venue for big company parties in a PDR space. The pub FOOD experienced there was consistently, relentlessly, forgettable for years. A few years ago they decided to get more serious about it, I guess -- though there also is plenty of serious pub-food competition in the area now, as you've detailed.

                                            Just in case it wasn't clear, the reason I go on about "that pizza place" (Napoletana) is it was the first VPN joint south of A16, and the proprietor, European, is a bit of a fanatic, too -- the good kind -- like Thomas Keller. Not all of the general public "gets" the result, and too many people online comment on side points like the pasta dishes etc., offered as a matter of form, albeit some have been good IMO; or because he doesn't offer pineapple toppings; or take-out when every moment is busy making pizzas for a full restaurant.

                                            The pizzas are the thing. But so many Italian expats became regulars there, it doesn't matter to his business if the general public "gets" it or not!

                                            Today, local Neapolitan pizza places are coming thick and fast:


                                        2. re: bbulkow

                                          A few I forgot:

                                          Armadillo Willy's - I've occasionally dropped in around lunch, and if you get some western style spin like BBQ sauce and onion rings, there's nothing wrong with it - but get something better at AW, or go somewhere else.

                                          Max's - I have a super large soft spot for Max's Third Street, and these griddled burgers do hit the spot, but get a pastrami or something else.

                                          Menlo Grill - this place in the hotel always strives to be above what it was - a hotel bar - when it was the Duck Club. The downgrade to Menlo Grill left it with burgers slightly better than you'd expect in a normal hotel.

                                          Alice's Restaurant - After driving hard corners on skyline, these burgers taste great. In reality they're only pretty good, and the motorcycle theme and pleasant toppings helps.

                                          Francesca's - average at best, meh at worst. Surprisingly good beer menu though.

                                          Lakeside Cafe - Regrettably average. I love the sailing club setting, and everything tastes better after sailing, but the burger is average.

                                          Alpine Inn - such a cool setting. Such an average burger.

                                          5 Star Pizza - does a standard burger, but get the cheesesteak

                                          Denny's RWC - honorable mention for the only 24 hour burger in town. I had a burger there at about 3am once, and it was actually decent, and kind of hopping. There were a lot of young working types - like dish cleaners and such - who had gotten off work and were horsing around and having a beer.

                                          Have not eaten:

                                          Madera - Lunch only, michelin starred, probably good
                                          Birch St
                                          Sundance - Lunch only
                                          Mandaloun - might be quite good
                                          Izzy's - probably very good
                                          Parkside Grille ( portola )
                                          Michael's at Shoreline
                                          The Treehouse (stanford campus)
                                          Mike's Midtown - probably above average
                                          Klutch - san carlos - pretty new
                                          Stanford Grill ( at the university golf course )
                                          De Carlo's Place
                                          Living Room - not sure they have a burger but I'd bet on it

                                          1. re: bbulkow

                                            That's quite a list.

                                            The Treehouse isn't good. I've had a turkey burger at the Axe and Palm, also on campus. I'm not sure if that counts in this list, but it was awful.

                                          2. re: bbulkow

                                            Since I know the family who owns the business, I have to point out that Coupa is Venezuelan, not Argentinian. I love the cachapa and the chai there. I haven't tried their fries yet.

                                            1. re: artemis

                                              DOH thanks for the correction. I knew that :-)

                                            2. re: bbulkow


                                              1. Refuge's burgers are PRETTY GOOD. Instead of sticking with the pastrami we went burger last night, and they are very solid burgers. I got the "mole without bacon", and I didn't taste a lot of mole, but I tasted a well balanced burger. Refering to the new Menlo Park branch - we were there on the early side of a friday, and at least 1/4 of the tables had kids (7 to 10), so it's graduated to a Casual Family place. The beer selection remains staunchly belgian, with them flogging an impressive bottle collection of sours et al as well.

                                              2. Menlo Hub, which has only passible burgers, seems closed for renovations in Jan '14. I endevour to give them another shot, but the food was only OK on two prior attempts.

                                              3. BBC, home to quite a few burger afternoons, is still closed. Asking the staff at Barrone, they said there was a second party trying to fix it up, but they called it quits. No action at the moment.

                                              4. We are still fans of Left Bank's Lamb Burger. Although this doesn't show up on the dinner menu anymore, it's on the lunch carte, there is a hamburger on for dinner, and they were happy to make a dinner lamburger to our request. Yum.

                                              5. Speaking of Barrone, the "barrone to go" project is looking quite spiffy, and likely has an opening date in a small number of weeks.

                                              6. Finally, I got something close to Bauer Service when one of the Barrone staff (who seems to recognize us now) chased us into the garage to give us our leftover bags. I do tip decently there (have never figured the best tip level for counter service), but it was certainly pleasant. While Barrone has no burgers, I am finding myself eating their Duck Papardelle often - it's cheesy and homey comfort style eats.

                                            3. A few Berkeley picks:

                                              Berkeley Bowl West cafe, 8 oz patty probably ground in-house, on a brioche bun with a dijonnaise sauce, very juicy with lots of flavor, especially when done medium-rare. Excellent fries when they get them right, pretty good otherwise.

                                              Meal Ticket, thick patties also ground in-house in a poppy-seed Kaiser roll, mayonnaise unless you ask to skip it (this easterner never got the hang of mayonnaise on burgers). Served with potato salad and greens.

                                              900 Grayson, another resonably thick patty, this time in an Acme roll with lots of bite to it, with cheese and bacon (I skip the cheese, myself). Served with BBQ sauce unless you ask them to skip it and shoestring fries, not my favorite.

                                              Cafe Rouge, very thick house-ground patty, ask for some free aioli on the side to slather on. More shoestring fries.

                                              Nizza La Bella, 6 oz for lunch (weekends only), 8 oz dinner, on a home-made roll with good texture. Again, get some aioli, both for the burger and the excellent double-fried potatoes.

                                              Phil's Sliders, very tasty little things that come medium rare by default, brioche buns. Home-made tater tots!

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: ernie in berkeley

                                                Just our opinion, but the reason I didn't list 900 Grayson, Cafe Rouge, Nizza, Hopscotch, and even Park Burger, was that they didn't come close to the favs I listed above on my 9/2 post.

                                                Park has a very good tasting burger, but it's too loose and too high, and falls apart as you eat it.

                                                Italian Colors/Montclair Village Oakland surprised us with a decent burger at lunchtime, but I wouldn't class it with the top ones. About equal to Cafe Rouge.

                                                Nizza's patty looked lovely, but was dry as dust and unsalted. The magnificent bleu on top of the patty was the only thing on the plate worth eating. We must have been very unlucky with the frites, the ones we got with both the burger and the chicken paillard were terrible: greasy and limp.

                                                1. re: ernie in berkeley

                                                  Some peoples Nizza "good texture" is another's "too dense and chewy."

                                                2. Was at Lake Chalet in Oakland on Labor Day hoping for something brunchy, but they had the normal lunch menu.

                                                  Lake Chalet Burger has little gem lettuce, tomato, pickled red onion on a sesame bun.

                                                  Ordered med-rare and it came about medium. Really juicy, but really under seasoned patty. Thick-cut pickled onions added a nice acidity. Tomatoes were not ripe.

                                                  Fries were a mixed batch with some nice and crispy ones and others that were flacid.

                                                  1. Went to Ground Up Burger in Half Moon Bay about a month ago.

                                                    They use local beef and produce (from the area), house baked buns, hand crafted, part of a local non-profit food development/start-up support, local youth work there. All good stuff.

                                                    The burger was good to very good, cooked to order. Lots of care taken. $11 bucks for the bacon/cheese burger. My thoughts are if you're in the area and want a good burger, it's an easy choice. I wouldn't however make a special trip as some suggest.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: ML8000

                                                      Belatedly replying to say we had burgers at Ground Up last month and were not fans at all. I dragged us here instead of the awesome fish & chips place based on a thread I saw on CH.

                                                      I liked my fish burger pretty well, though I wasn't a fan of the bread (dry, tasteless) but DH's burger was disasterous. It came out well done instead of the "we cook all burgers medium rare" plus the absurdity that they charge extra for ketchup and their absurd comment that since tomatoes weren't in season nearby, they weren't being offered. This was infuriatingly hilarious because we had gone to the San Mateo farmer's market that very morning and bought tomatoes grown within a few miles of Ground Up and from farms listed as featured farmers on the Ground Up sign.

                                                    2. Palo Alto Grill: Shared one of their burgers with a friend. Prepared medium rare as requested. Good char from the grill, but no black peppercorn flavor that I could detect. Both the top and bottom of the bun had been dressed with ketchup which was too much for us. Pretty much all we could taste was ketchup. Finally took the burger out of the bun so we could taste the meat which was pretty good. Big clunky piece of iceberg lettuce didn't add anything. Don't think I would bother again...

                                                      1. In the past, I might have suggested Balboa Cafe as a solid underrated burger, but a recent trip felt more like they belong on one of those hidden camera shows, where some manager gets caught running a restaurant into the ground.

                                                        Meat was overcooked and less than fresh, bun was stale, fries tasted reheated and stale... the ground beef was also doubling as a special of the day, with ground beef tacos. Anyway, worst burger I've had in many years, and since I'm pretty sure I've named it as a good burger, it seemed like a good idea to report the bad experience.

                                                        1. Original Joes: Ordered the "famous" cheese burger just because it the dish the month. Thanks for nothing chowhounds!

                                                          Ordered it medium rare but stipulated all I really wanted was to make sure it was still pink in the middle. Came well done (to be kind) and dry. How they managed to overcook a thick half-pound burger so thoroughly is beyond me. I mean, why even bother to ask how I wanted it?

                                                          The burger came with provolone cheese and a minuscule amount of grilled onion bits. Essentially a patty melt on Boudin sourdough. Could I have gotten the wrong burger? I did order provolone.

                                                          The bread was good, but between the thick sourdough and the dry meat it was tough to get through. I was unable to finish it, and that is saying something. The waitress did mentioned that folks rarely do finish their plates though...hmmm....

                                                          Thankfully the fries were good, Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, just the way I like 'em. I guessing they were double-fried.

                                                          So do I get bonus points for taking one for the team?

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Civil Bear

                                                            If they had cooked it right, would it have been alright?

                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                              Probably yes. Although I would still be puzzled about the lack fresh veggies, and would prefer a bun rather than tough-ish sourdough.

                                                              1. re: Civil Bear

                                                                The hamburger sandwich on sourdough rolls thing is an old San Francisco thing. Joe's, and it's knock offs like Zim's were all known for it - not that you're going back there, but I think you should be able to ask for a bun (not that it sounds like you're going back).

                                                          2. I rarely go out for burgers. Usually it's Prather Ranch on an Acme bun at home. Been to Super Duper in Mill Valley a few times and like what they do. However, the Belcampo Meat Co's cheeseburger has been drawing me in repeatedly. Perfectly balanced components, remarkably flavorful beef done just right at medium rare, and a delicious brioche bun.


                                                            1. all burgers ordered medium rare, seldom came out as such. not mentioning the toppings.

                                                              disco volante burger (15)
                                                              -pretty juicy burger but a little off on their last day

                                                              unami burger-"original" (11)
                                                              -burger chewy, dry, not juicy
                                                              -toppings tasted better than burger
                                                              -unami flavor tasted like soy

                                                              hopscotch-"first base burger" (14)
                                                              -angus chuck came juicy medium, burger fell apart
                                                              -beef tongue too chewy, not tender
                                                              -chips a hit

                                                              tribune tavern-"tavern burger" (11?)
                                                              -fries not fresh,
                                                              -medium burger had no juice, no red meat, no flavor

                                                              rustic tavern (lafayette)- "tavern burger" (14)
                                                              -1/2# homemade burger, got red meat with a little juice
                                                              -fabulous burger
                                                              -deliz french press "regal" coffee.

                                                              1. From the Trappist newsletter:

                                                                "We've been working on the Trappist Burger for a while now and, well, I'm just going to say it. This is the best burger in the East Bay. Chef Tony will be on the patio grilling these off this Saturday, come let us know what you think!"

                                                                Saturday Sept 14, 4-11pm.

                                                                1. The $15 griddled burger at Jasper's Corner Tap comes on a brioche bun, and is topped with blue cheese, frisee, and a bacon onion marmalade.

                                                                  I wasn't a big fan of this burger, in total or its parts, but I could imagine someone liking it for some of the same reasons I didn't. On the plus side, there was a restrained amount of blue cheese, just enough to add some saltiness and umami. The meat itself was very beefy, and remarkably flat, but I found it too dense and rubbery. The bacon onion marmalade gave a porky edge, which was good, but it lacked the crunch you would get from a slice of bacon. Frisee provides a nice textural contrast to other crunchy things in salads, but the texture combination of its bristles against the soft ground meat here was very unpleasant. The sandwich could have used more acidity to balance out the cheese and marmalade (no ketchup was provided).

                                                                  I really liked the 1/4 pickle spear. Only lightly pickled and bright green.

                                                                  1. I'll make a pitch here for good frozen burgers at Whole Foods. I keep them on hand so if i ever want a burger at home, there it is. Here's a prior post of mine:


                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                                                                      I liked the frozen buffalo burger patties at Trader Joe's but can't find them now. They were lean, flavorful, and quick to cook.

                                                                      1. re: Cynsa

                                                                        You can buy ground buffalo from Bullshead in West Portal. I think Canyon Market sells it too, but it was pricey.

                                                                    2. Black Skillet Kitchen (formerly McGee's Bar and Grill), Alameda.

                                                                      McGee's is around the corner from my house. Over the years I've ordered the burger there twice. The second time I remembered why I hadn't been back after the first time. Simply terrible. All the food there except for the bar appetizers (probably Sysco, but edible) was terrible.

                                                                      But there were rumor about how a real chef had leased the kitchen side of the operation and there was a new menu with better food. Then the local paper ran a review and mentioned a Hatch chile burger so I decided to make a dish of the month visit.

                                                                      Unfortunately the Hatch burger was nowhere to be seen. There are two burgers on the menu :
                                                                      The Basic Burger\Lettuce\Tomato\Onion for 8.5
                                                                      and the
                                                                      Black Skillet Burger\Arugula\Tomato\Onion\Tomme de Savoie\Garlic Aioli for 12

                                                                      I went with the signature burger, but I omitted the tomato and garlic aioli. To be fair, it would undoubtedly have been better with the omitted items. Otherwise, I thought it was just okay. The patty was thinner than I expected (although still pink) and a little bland. Moist but not juicy. Served on a good brioche-style bun that held up well. I actually liked the arugula, but didn't get much bang from the fancy cheese. The included fries were quite good, although they fell short of craveable.

                                                                      I'll be checking out more Alameda burgers this month!

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                        I hit up PS Eatery, a new place on Park St. for its half-pound Black Angus burger.

                                                                        The burger is $9 and comes standard with grilled onions. An extra buck for cheese (choice of several, I got Swiss), and an option to add a half order of fries (regular or sweet potato) for $1.50. It was tasty but kind of weird. The baby greens on it were dressed with a sweetish vinaigrette that added some weird sweet notes to the burger. Served on a plain oval bun and cooked medium well instead of the requested medium rare. Sweet potatoe fries were good, and a half order was about the right amount for me. I think I'll give it another try and request undressed greens and send it back if it's not medium rare.

                                                                        PS (stands for Park St.) Eatery seems promising: reasonably priced comfort food, specializing in mac and cheese in various forms. The dish of mac and cheese I saw on another table was large enough that I think I'd order it with a couple of the veggie sides and share.

                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                          Just to follow-up. I went back to McGee's a few weeks ago and got the "basic" burger with the porkbelly ($2) add on. And I've since been back to get it again. It's really, really good!

                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                            I agree -- and I think that is probably the best thing on the menu. I really want to support the new kitchen at McGee's as I have been wanted non-SISCO food there for a while (it is a common stop for us because of an intra-family need to find a spot with both Bud Light and Blind Pig), but the menu has been uneven. The brussel sprouts have been undercooked every time we ordered them; the same with the pardon peppers. I thought the wings and sliders were serviceable, along with the wedge salad. But I can support with that burger!

                                                                        2. My choice for excellent medium-rare burgers in the southern part of SF and in Daly City:

                                                                          --Dark Horse Inn,Geneva Ave., SF (Excelsior): Nice hand-formed burgers on good buns, house-made potato chips -- also a very good tap beer selection.

                                                                          --Hall of Flame, Parkmerced Shopping Center, SF (OMI): Excellent burgers, some nice taps, very good fries.

                                                                          --Boulevard Café, just off John Daly Blvd., Westlake, Daly City: Large burgers, accurately cooked to order, nice side dishes like zucchini cakes with tzatziki or sweet potato fries or a very nice side salad with a house-made dressing.


                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Nancy Berry

                                                                            Yes on Hall of Flame! Under $10, Niman Ranch beef, and delicious. Red onions, too!

                                                                          2. I checked out the new Five Guys in Alameda. I would have to agree that the burgers are a little on the expensive side for what they are (double fast-food style burgers). Still, I like the ability to customize the toppings. I'm not surprised some people claim they are soggy, since it's easy to overload the toppings and end up with a mushy mess. I had a cheeseburger with grilled onions, pickles, ketchup and jalapenos and it was tasty but, as I said, definitely a "fast food" burger. I suspect I'll be dropping in often for the fries, though. Maybe we should do french fries for the dish of the month!

                                                                            1. This week I paid my first-ever visit to Super Duper. I had:

                                                                              - cheeseburger w/ everything, minus the raw onion, and plus the grilled onion.
                                                                              - regular fries
                                                                              - lemonade
                                                                              - pickles

                                                                              We took everything to go, and ate it in the park. Service was fast. The branch I went to was the one at Moscone Center, off of Mission St. between 3rd and 4th.

                                                                              Things I liked:

                                                                              Almost everything! The burger was a bit greasy, but really tasty. It had two patties, melty cheese, and a good amount of special sauce. I did not have to add any ketchup to it. This is probably one of the best burgers I've eaten in SF. Fries were also great—crispy, nice amount of salt. Pickles are free and unlimited. They are homemade and bit more sour than I prefer, but still quite good.

                                                                              Things I didn't like:

                                                                              The lemonade. It wasn't bad, but it's made w/ brown (turbinado?) sugar so it has a molasses-ey taste. I guess some people enjoy this in lemonade, but I am not one of them. Next time I go, I will get a shake or an iced tea and will be happy.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Dave MP

                                                                                I really like that location of Super Duper, and the nearby one on Market....really good for what they are, and much better than the Shake Shack rip off I was expecting...I haven't had the same luck at other locations, so I'll stick to those two stores for now.

                                                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                  Dave, just be careful eating in that park as some of those birds are fierce and will come and steal your fries!
                                                                                  After that happened to me twice, i realized that i don't really like the fries at superduper anyway, and so now i just go wtih the burgers and lemonade.

                                                                                  1. re: jupiter

                                                                                    Funny you should say that because there *was* a pigeon trying to steal my food! They have no fear.

                                                                              2. Has anyone had a Cow Palace Burger at 7 mile House in Brisbane?
                                                                                COW PALACE BURGER
                                                                                Double Angus patty(1 pound), onion rings, bacon, sauteed onions, tomato, lettuce, mayo with BBQ sauce and a side of fries

                                                                                54 Replies
                                                                                1. re: wolfe

                                                                                  7 mile house? That sounds like it should be in Alaska.

                                                                                  1. re: Windy

                                                                                    Actually my home in Detroit was between 7 Mile and Eminem's 8 Mile Road but this one claims a 150+ year local history. I am not sure what it is 7 miles from.

                                                                                    1. re: wolfe

                                                                                      There's a "16 Mile House" in Millbrae. I think the mile markers were on the highway that originally followed El Camino Real.

                                                                                      1. re: srr

                                                                                        What was the starting point, 7 or 16 miles from where?

                                                                                        1. re: wolfe

                                                                                          A Rich and Notorious History

                                                                                          7 Mile House was built circa 1853 as a stagecoach stop 7 miles from the San Francisco Ferry Building. It is proudly the Bay Area’s last ‘mile house’ left standing in its original location. Mile Houses, established in the mid 1800s, served as local post offices and old stagecoach stops where horses rested and were exchanged. Later, Mile Houses evolved into popular neighborhood watering holes, a Pony Express route, a hotel and, in some cases, even a brothel.


                                                                                          1. re: drewskiSF

                                                                                            Which Ferry Building?
                                                                                            "The San Francisco Ferry Building was designed by American architect A. Page Brown in the Beaux Arts style in 1892, the ferry building was completed in 1898."

                                                                                            1. re: wolfe

                                                                                              Getting a little off topic, but apparently, the current Ferry Building replaced an older Union Depot & Ferry House.

                                                                                              This site has a picture alledgedly from 1868.

                                                                                              I didn't find when it was originally built.

                                                                                              1. re: drewskiSF

                                                                                                I was just wondering about the changing shoreline as the Bay was filled in as they buried those gold rush ships. Has anyone ever had even the 1/2 pound burger at 7 Mile?

                                                                                            2. re: drewskiSF

                                                                                              Seriously doubt the distance was the based on the Ferry Building that didn't exist. More likely Mission Dolores.
                                                                                              Even with today's much improved network of streets and roads, the Ferry Building is over 7 miles away whereas Mission Dolores is not.

                                                                                              Most sources I have seen date the Union Depot and Ferry House to 1877 as in "The wood-frame, 350-foot-long structure was built by the Central Pacific Railroad as the western terminus of its transcontinental line in 1877."

                                                                                              Back to burgers: In spite of the flurry of good restaurant burgers, Mo's in North Beach is still the best when they have a cook who knows how to cook them right, which isn't always, unfortunately. But when perfectly cooked, they beat out any $15 restaurant burger not to mention jokes like Gott's.

                                                                                                1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                  Mo's quality of meat has a ceiling, no matter how it's cooked, but it's a decent burger for those who like a classic one, without fuss or fancy touches. I'd put it in the Burgermiester category.

                                                                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                    Mo's meat quality is quite adequate, but what makes it stand out is that if cooked right, it's among the juiciest burgers you can find. And by "cooked right" I don't just mean cooked to order but how the patty is flattened and where it's placed on the grill. (Burgermeister doesn't hold a candle.) There are numerous restaurant burgers that no matter how fancy the meat may be still come across as gimmicky and over engineered. Case in point, I had the Black Truffle Cheese Burger at Bix the other day for $28. It was very tasty, In fact, it was so flavorful that I doubt that I would want to have one of those more than once every several months. And it wasn't nearly as juicy as a Mo's burger done right.

                                                                                                    In contrast, I tried another Bruce Hill burger tonight at Fog City. It had a much more modest thin patty that they cook medium. Still, while arguably overpriced at $14 (w/o fries), it worked pretty well with the combination of the cheese, bun, aioli, onion, tomato, etc. A nicely composed burger that I could easily eat many times a week unlike the truffle burger at Bix.

                                                                                                    1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                      >modest thin patty that they cook medium ... $14 (w/o fries)<

                                                                                                      Thanks for the warning. No new Fog City for me unless I hear/read better reports.

                                                                                                      1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                                                                                                        I'm with you! $14 for a "modest thin patty" and no fries is ridiculous!

                                                                                                      2. re: nocharge

                                                                                                        Your description would give the sense Mo's is grill flattened, which might mislead some people who love that style burger (I'm not one of them). Mo's also uses an open flame char grill, so I'm not sure what you mean about grill placement either.

                                                                                                        What Mo's has going for it is that it's a traditional burger. Iceburg lettuce, the pale beefsteak tomato slice,a traditional bun. There's something to be said for that. You can also order all the goofy theme burger trimmings, which I suspect makes up for the mediocre meat. I'm also not looking for a burger I'd could easily eat many times a week. I don't find it as juicy or flavorful as you do unfortunately, but I suspect we just have different burger ideals, which is cool.

                                                                                                        1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                          How juicy a Mo's burger is depends primarily on three factors, the thickness of the patty, the grill temperature, and the grill time, The placement on the grill affects the temperature since not all areas are equally hot. Over the years, I've seen plenty of cases where the grill guy has flattened out the patty when placing it on the grill and grilling for a relatively short time on relatively high heat resulting in a not so juicy burger. Maybe you've been a victim of that. Sadly, Mo's is noticeable inconsistent depending on who is working the grill.

                                                                                                          1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                            For those reading, it's important to note that we're not talking about a standard diner grill but one that rotates.

                                                                                                            The way a burger is cooked can effect the meat, I agree, but mediocre quality beef is just that. Mo's doesn't have a magic spot on their grill to make the meat juicier, and truth be told, I've never known them to cook a burger properly to begin with despite the char (unevenly/undercooked, etc.). As I said, I think we just have different standards/preferences.

                                                                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                              That is exactly the point, the variables that combine to determine how juicy the burger is (patty thickness, grill placement, grill time) are judgement calls and if the person who works the grill doesn't know how to do it right, the result is not that great. (The level of sophistication of the grill people at Mo's has gone downhill in the last decade, in my experience.)

                                                                                                              The meat quality is adequate and contains enough fat for a really juicy burger if cooked right. (I don't know what kind of meat you are looking for in a burger. Dry aged? Mixed with truffles and foie gras?)

                                                                                                              As for burgers not being cooked precisely to order, that certainly happens at Mo's, but it's a pretty universal problem even with fancy restaurant burgers at expensive places. My $28 truffle burger at Bix the other day was overcooked, but not to a degree that would have warranted a complaint. And you would think that an upscale steakhouse that charges $25 for a burger should be able to cook it to order, but that's not always the case:
                                                                                                              "This burger would be among the city’s finest were it not for the fact that my patty, requested medium, was cooked beyond recognition. I mean, cooked. Cooked hard."

                                                                                                              1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                "I don't know what kind of meat you are looking for in a burger. Dry aged? Mixed with truffles and foie gras?"

                                                                                                                No. Just good meat that rises about the jumbo bulk packs from a Lucky's.

                                                                                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                  If I recall correctly, Mo's uses house ground chuck, corn fed, 80/20, precisely the right formula for making a traditional hamburger if cooked correctly. No bulk frozen standard-size patties from Lucky's.

                                                                                                                  BTW, I have nothing against fancy restaurant burgers and I eat a lot of them. I just find that they are often gimmicky or "we, too, have a fancy overpriced burger on our menu" but that's not to say that there aren't some that are very good.

                                                                                                                  1. re: nocharge

                                                                                                                    Count me in as a fan of Mo's. Best burger under $10 in the City , IMO. Good beef, good bun, cooked to order. What more do you need?

                                                                                                                    1. re: Civil Bear

                                                                                                                      My medium-rare burger at Mo's was cooked just as ordered and was a delicious and very juicy six-napkin burger. Makes me happy every time and it's at the top of my 'regular burger' list, followed closely by the Hall of Flame burger.
                                                                                                                      On the other side of that coin, my burger at Slow Club didn't wow me - ordered medium-rare, it came well-done and as dry and tasteless as a hockey puck. The cooks, happy and joking, laughing and flirting with the ladies — too distracted to watch a burger on the grill, can do better.
                                                                                                                      I have tried relentlessly to admire the Mission Bowling Club burger, on two occasions - plus its original incantation at Duc Loi Market - that's 3 times I have walked away with doubt. The last time was the clincher because my burger was cold and congealed not in a tasty way; I nearly went behind the bar to collect it myself as it sat forgotten at lunch time. It wasn't busy with only one other bar stool occupied and two behind the bar.
                                                                                                                      The Kronner Burger fared better but didn't set off any ringing bells because the burger is small and just o.k. - drinks from the bar are 'great'.
                                                                                                                      Service at Starbelly was attentive and friendly; burger was juicy and o.k. I think the ketchup is housemade and good.
                                                                                                                      Bullshead, Super Duper, Pearl's are all consistently pleasing. Jack and Margaret at KK are beloved in the neighborhood at Haight & Divis - so we get the 'good value' veggie burger and the burger/fries.
                                                                                                                      My burger quest has been random at best and probably more mood-centric at its worst. Next is Nopa, then Art's on Irving.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Cynsa

                                                                                                                        Cysna (or anyone else): do you think the Starbelly (prather ranch) burger is enough better than the Super Duper (Niman Ranch) burger to justify the extra expense?

                                                                                                                        1. re: hyperbowler

                                                                                                                          Prather Ranch beef is pastured/grass fed and significantly better than Niman Ranch if you care about how the animals are treated, what they eat, etc. Niman used to be better but went downhill after the founder sold the company a few years ago. I also like the taste of Prather Ranch meats. To me the expense is justified.

                                                                                                                          1. re: waluso

                                                                                                                            Prather is much better, but it's a more difficult burger meat to work with, and easy to get a dried out burger that loses the benefit. I find it pretty difficult to get a properly cooked burger at places using Prather.

                                                                                                                            I was never a fan of Niman's meat, which always seemed like hype to me, but it's just fine for a fast food diner style burger. Starbelly is going for a more substantial, all around better product with a thicker restaurant/pub style burger.

                                                                                                                            1. re: waluso

                                                                                                                              Note that while Prather Ranch cattle do not eat corn, they are finished on grain and not strictly grass.

                                                                                                                              "Our animals are born and raised on certified organic pastures. For organic pasture production, no synthetic herbicide and pesticides have been applied to the pasture for a minimum of three years. The cattle are finished on a diet of chopped forage, barley and rice. We never feed corn to the cattle. "

                                                                                                                            2. re: hyperbowler

                                                                                                                              Haven't been to either, but if the goals are tender and juicy meat with a beefy flavor then I would expect the answer to be no.

                                                                                                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                  Based on there is nothing in the Prather Ranch cattle that would make its ground meat inherently more tender, more juicy, or more beefy in flavor to justify a steeper price at Starbelley than the Niman Ranch cattle.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Civil Bear

                                                                                                                                    Steeper price? It's $12.

                                                                                                                                    A restaurant burger, cooked to order with one of the top local meat providers as their source should in theory be far superior.
                                                                                                                                    Some burgers are juicier than others, more tender than others, and better in beefy flavor than others. They're not all equal.

                                                                                                                                    Check out photos and description here:

                                                                                                                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                      >Steeper price? It's $12.

                                                                                                                                      And at Super Duper it is $6.75. I would say that is a considerable difference.

                                                                                                                                      >A restaurant burger, cooked to order with one of the top local meat providers as their source should in theory be far superior.

                                                                                                                                      This would contradict your earlier comment about Prather Ranch beef drying out more easily, and it sounds like from the link you provided that the Starbelly burger was not cooked to order. But I otherwise would agree with your theory

                                                                                                                                      >Some burgers are juicier than others, more tender than others, and better in beefy flavor than others. They're not all equal.

                                                                                                                                      On this we agree. Apparently where we diverge is what it takes to get there.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Civil Bear

                                                                                                                                        The price question is interesting. I've started realizing I'm often paying more for the atmosphere than the burger, I guess. If I go to Zuni and get a burger, they still have to cover all the overhead so can't price it at $6, that would be crazy. So I'm happy if the burger is in-line (but cheaper than more complicated dishes).

                                                                                                                                        So, yes, I think it's fair to compare Super Duper's $7 with Slow Club's $12 (or whatever). They are still both burgers. [ And I haven't had super dupers ].

                                                                                                                                        1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                          100% agree, which is why I started with a caveat.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                            "And I haven't had super dupers"

                                                                                                                                            I think it's clear both of you need to try a Super Duper, or even look at pictures, before doing the value comparison.

                                                                                                                                            The better value is usually the restaurant serving a chef made burger for a few bucks more. This idea that a burger is just a burger is baffling to me.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                              I didn't make a value comparison.

                                                                                                                                              I simply said I don't bother with value comparisons anymore, when it comes to hamburgers. I used to think - OMG! $14 for a hamburger! but I've become blase, when faced with michelin starred burgers and similar.

                                                                                                                                              A "fancy burger" (like a sit down hamburger in a nice place, like Hillstone yesterday) seems to cost about $20/$25 out-the-door with fries and a drink.

                                                                                                                                              More bare bones places charge a lot less - you can get out for maybe $12 to $15.

                                                                                                                                              You're paying for all the amenities.

                                                                                                                                              With that kind of spread, I call THE PRICE about the same and start thinking mostly about the quality of the burger.

                                                                                                                                              [ That being said, SuperDuper can certainly be on the list. I have never commented on the quality of the burgers. ]

                                                                                                                                              1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                                In some cases you're paying for the quality of the burger more so than the amenities. A Prather Ranch burger on a Pinkie bun for $12 is more about getting people through the door. There's profit, but they'll hope to really make their larger margins on extras or drinks, or just someone else seated at the same table.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: Civil Bear

                                                                                                                                            I said Prather burger meat was harder to work, and it is. Starbelly are using superior ingredients though. Why would you read into my comments as otherwise?

                                                                                                                                            Once you order fries a Super Duper is about $.9.25 for a much smaller burger. $3 is not a considerable increase for a restaurant over fast food.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                              Why is Prather burger meat harder to work?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Civil Bear

                                                                                                                                                Grassfed or partially Grassfed, typically needs to be cooked differently than conventional factory beef, and it's easy to overcook.

                                                                                                                                                It's not injected full of extras that create "juiciness".
                                                                                                                                                The fat content is unique.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                                  >Grassfed or partially Grassfed, typically needs to be cooked differently than conventional factory beef, and it's easy to overcook.

                                                                                                                                                  So you are saying Prather Ranch beef drys out more easily if not cooked "differently"?

                                                                                                                                                  Can you provide any evidence that 80/20 ground beef from Prather Ranch cooks differently than 80/20 ground beef from Niman Ranch? I ask because I have ground and cooked briskets from Niman Ranch, Snake River, Creekstone, and Meyer and haven't noticed a difference.

                                                                                                                                                  >It's not injected full of extras that create "juiciness".
                                                                                                                                                  The fat content is unique.

                                                                                                                                                  Just to be clear, Niman Ranch (beef used at Super Duper) doesn't use any hormones or antibiotics either.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Civil Bear

                                                                                                                                                    "So you are saying Prather Ranch beef drys out more easily if not cooked "differently"?"

                                                                                                                                                    As in, the cook times, and handling are different. It helps to know how to work with the product.

                                                                                                                                                    If you want to believe that all beef tastes the same without distinction, wether dry aged, grassfed, cornfed, or otherwise, or that all beef cooks up the same - I'm not interested in convincing you otherwise.

                                                                                                                                                    Here's an old discussion about Prather (both pro and con) circa 2007 if you need an introduction: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/432633

                                                                                                                                                    Just so you're clear, Bill Niman would disagree with you:

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                                      >>As in, the cook times, and handling are different. It helps to know how to work with the product.

                                                                                                                                                      Again, can you provide any evidence of this?

                                                                                                                                                      >>If you want to believe that all beef tastes the same without distinction, wether dry aged, grassfed, cornfed, or otherwise, or that all beef cooks up the same - I'm not interested in convincing you otherwise.

                                                                                                                                                      Not only did I not say that all beef tastes the same, it's not relevant to our discussion. What is relevant is if 80/20 ground meat from Prather is moister, juicier, and beefier in taste than 80/20 ground meat from places like Niman Ranch.

                                                                                                                                                      Thanks to your link to a previous Chowhound thread I see that Prather ages their beef in-house. This intensifies the flavor of the meat, but it does not add to its juiciness, and after grinding, does not appreciably aid in tenderness. Since it is doubtful that Super Duper is aging their beef, perhaps the added price is at Starbelly is justified or those that enjoy a more intense flavor of grass-fed beef.

                                                                                                                                                      Regarding Niman Ranch's use of hormones and antibiotics, you may want to re-read your own link as well as Niman Ranch's website:


                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Civil Bear

                                                                                                                                                        I'd believe Bill Niman over the Niman Ranch marketing dept. claims.

                                                                                                                                                        One is a fast food burger.
                                                                                                                                                        One is from a restaurant.
                                                                                                                                                        Different styles.

                                                                                                                                                        The price difference is less than $3. Why keep mentioning it?

                                                                                                                                                        Pretty sure you mentioned having been to neither of these places.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: hyperbowler

                                                                                                                                    in reply to hyperbowler: my cooked-to-order Starbelly burger was better than my Super Duper burger but not twice as good at twice the price.
                                                                                                                                    We have the burger under $10 and the burger over $10 - can't compare, can we? Throw into the mix: condiments, service, and ambience.
                                                                                                                                    Truthfully, I don't remember. I'll crave a burger and find disappointment between the bun. Meh at best. I still like my Mo's burger on Grant.
                                                                                                                                    The best plain-and-simple burger in my memory was in Houston, TX where beef tastes like beef.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: hyperbowler

                                                                                                                                      Having now had both Super Duper and Starbelly burgers, I can offer another data point. If I were to get a half-pound burger, I think I'd go for Starbelly: the nicer atmosphere, better bun and garnishes, better control over doneness, and better choice of beverages justifies the increment in price. (Not sure I can tell the difference in the meat.) But I often don't want that much, or don't want to linger, or want a more casual experience, and the SD quarter-pound option is good.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Prabhakar Ragde

                                                                                                                                        Finally got to Super Duper and I can understand the hype. Really well executed burger, especially considering the quantities that are being cranked out each day. Patties were well seasoned, juicy, and cooked to medium as stated on the menu. The double patties really work too, as it they added even more flavor.

                                                                                                                                        At $7.25 with a same-day movie ticket for a half pound cheese burger with grilled onions and jalapenos, an order of fries, and all the house made pickles you can eat was a true steal. Beer selection wasn't bad either.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: Cynsa

                                                                                                                                      >Bullshead, Super Duper, Pearl's are all consistently pleasing.<

                                                                                                                                      Never been to Bullshead. Super Duper is fine if you like your burgers pretty much well done, and also made large by using two thinner patties. Pearl's (MIll Valley) cooks your burger the way you want, with one patty instead of two, which makes Pearls way above Super Duper for me.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                                                                                                                                        If you like Pearl's you might really enjoy Bill's or even Mel's Diner.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                                                                                                                                          Two patties would mean more caramelization. I could see how that could be more pleasing to some.

                                                                                                                                  3. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                    That's just slander.

                                                                                                                                    Mo's may not be mixing short-rib beef into their burger (noticed that about the NOLA Palo Alto burger I had yesterday, yum), but Mo's has a thick hand formed patty.

                                                                                                                                    Using actual charcoal counts for a _LOT_, and I have trouble with "fancy pants burgers" that are griddled. Take BurgerJoint, which certainly is a thin patty with average meat, and the fact that it's on live coals gives the place staying power. And those nice frozen Sysco fries that Thomas Keller likes, too.

                                                                                                                                    Same thing with Clarke's and Kirk's in Palo Alto / Mountain View. Coals.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                      Folks, we've had to remove quite a few posts about the proper meat to use in burgers. Not only is that off topic for a regional board, but it seems the participants are becoming quite testy. Please, let's try to keep the discussion focused.

                                                                                                          2. re: wolfe

                                                                                                            Photo of the $13 Cow Palace Burger at 7 mile House in Brisbane:

                                                                                                          3. First time at Sparrow on Haight, I got the burger. There were nice grill marks on the very juicy Marin Sun Farms burger. Great flavor and texture. Toppings, watercress, tomato, and roasted onions complemented but didn't overwhelm the meat. Bun was a little dry. For the neighborhood, I liked this burger much better than the ones at Magnolia or Kezar.

                                                                                                            We also got the Brussels sprout with bacon, which were supposed to be shredded or shaved, but were halved instead. They were a little overlooked. Luckily bacon heals most wounds.

                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: hyperbowler

                                                                                                                What about what appear to be avocado and cheese on this burger? Personally, that's way too much stuff on a burger.

                                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                  I don't recall anything about the cheese, but the avocado had its place-- on a salad, which is precisely where I tossed it after snapping the photo :-)

                                                                                                                  The placement of the tomato gave the sandwich a much taller appearance than it actually was.

                                                                                                            1. Art's Cafe (Irving St & 9th Ave)
                                                                                                              My favorite place for breakfast, but their burgers and sandwiches are delicious as well. My favorite burger is their California burger: half pound with cheddar, avocado, and bacon on a French roll. Not the fanciest burger (nor the fanciest restaurant) by any means, but it's one of the best diner burgers I've had. My boyfriend's dad said the beef was great and the way the patty was formed reminded him of ranch-style beef. This coming from a man who grew up on a cattle ranch in Idaho. And it's $7, can't complain about that.

                                                                                                              Although the restaurant is teeny (it seats about 15 people along a single counter), the service is very attentive and accomodating. The cook/owner is also a marvel to watch during service.

                                                                                                              1. Redford in the tenderloin is more of a bar that has food than a food destination itself, so I got the $13 burger. It has the standards on top--- lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, all haphazardly chopped and stacked so that you practically have to sit on the bun to get it to compress. The griddled burger is roundish and fat and tastes about the same as a standard burger you can fry up at home.

                                                                                                                Vegetarian entrees are limited to a smoked cheese pizza with a not so great crust, a basic cheese plate with an awesome marmalade, and a really enjoyable kale salad with peanut dressing.

                                                                                                                1. Not a new discovery, but still one of my faves: Chop Bar.

                                                                                                                  It's not for purists:
                                                                                                                  yes, they use a lovely Acme Kaiser roll. And, yes, there is the avocado. And instead of fries, they serve it with a green salad. Last nite, it came with a really great arugula salad.

                                                                                                                  The meat is perfect. The thick bacon, truly fabulous. Oh, and did I mention it comes de facto with aioli (Grey Elf, are you shuddering with horror and fright?...)

                                                                                                                  And btw, the house margarita is still a winner.

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: escargot3

                                                                                                                    I like their burger, but the salad (arugula too) was awful (mid-summer). The dressing was just oily, bland, and the greens were soggy.

                                                                                                                    The patty was juicy. The tomato was probably my favorite part. Super ripe. Best restaurant tomato in a while.

                                                                                                                    1. re: drewskiSF

                                                                                                                      That's interesting. Last nite, the greens were perfect.

                                                                                                                  2. my favorite burger is the one at boulevard in sf, lunch only.

                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Dustin_E

                                                                                                                      the hamburgers from the shack near the driving range at the olympic club golf course are also very good -- served on hot dog buns (i was skeptical at first.)

                                                                                                                      sadly, it's members only (which i'm not, so i've tried them only once.)

                                                                                                                      1. re: Dustin_E

                                                                                                                        Until we were talking about venues nearby during the US Open last year, I was unaware of Hot Dog Bill's burger.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                          Forgot all about that one. They were quite tasty!

                                                                                                                    2. Had the burger for lunch today at El Garaje. See this discussion for more about this newish place in SOMA: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/905579

                                                                                                                      It was really good! The single patty cheeseburger was cooked medium (this is the default, and I didn't have to specify), and I got mine w/ everything: american cheese, special sauce, sweet pickle, grilled onion, tomato, shredded lettuce. I also added bacon for an additional dollar.

                                                                                                                      I thought the overall taste was pretty similar to the burger at SuperDuper, but this burger felt less greasy and less heavy. The meat itself also tasted a bit better (maybe because it was cooked medium in this case).

                                                                                                                      The fries were OK but texturally not amazing. I like the thinner fries at SuperDuper better.

                                                                                                                      Definitely would recommend El Garaje in general though, since they have a full menu w/ fish tacos, fish and chips, and other sandwiches.

                                                                                                                      1. A reminder that tomorrow, September 18, is National Cheeseburger Day. Start planning your burger observance now. :)

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                          "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today" replaces Wimpy's "Cook me up a hamburger. I'll pay you Thursday."

                                                                                                                        2. hhc beat me to the writeup on SP2 (nicely done!) so I may as well post my burger in here.

                                                                                                                          It's a really nice looking burger. It needed some rearranging, as the bacon and avocado had slid to the back. Patty was perhaps a little under seasoned, but otherwise fine (if not outstanding). Bacon was lovely. Bun was properly robust but not dry, and held up all the way to the end. Decent enough side of fries that I polished off.

                                                                                                                          *edit* pic uploaded but no thumbnail shows, so I've removed it. Will try again later.


                                                                                                                          72 N. Almaden Ave, San Jose 95110

                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                          1. re: stravaigint

                                                                                                                            Photo of pretty burger and heap of fries attached.

                                                                                                                          2. My favorite place for burgers by far in the SF or peninsula area is Bistro SF Grill in lower pac heights. They have grass fed beef, venison, buffalo, chicken, boar, alligator, and I think some others. It's a bit pricey but very good.


                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: waluso

                                                                                                                              We walked by there on Sunday. I'll have to try the buffalo.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Windy

                                                                                                                                I'll join you, it's been too long since my last burger at Bistro SF Grill (it's near b.patisserie on California & Divis)

                                                                                                                            2. Waiheke Island Yacht Club . . . 100% NZ Beef and Lamb Burger was my target for this month's dish of the month. Ordered "medium", the 60:40 beef to lamb blend was barely moist enough. On the lean side, cooked any more done and it would have been too dry. Complete description here,

                                                                                                                              1. We went to Jack's Prime in San Mateo over the weekend. I wouldn't recommend it. DH's cheeseburger was well done, despite being requested at medium rare. He liked it ok but wouldn't return. My turkey burger was salty, dense, and flat tasting, though a step up from Umami's tuna burger in terms of non-beef offerings (which is to say, the Umami tuna burger was one of the worst things I've eaten in years).

                                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: artemis

                                                                                                                                  I agree, Jack's Prime should be better. But did you get fried pickles with your burgers? The best part.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                    fried pickle? never heard of such a thing!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: escargot3

                                                                                                                                      Lots of old posts on the board about fried pickles, aka frickles or English wallys, if you do a search.

                                                                                                                                      I had the ones at Jack's Prime when cucumber pickles were dish of the month. The things folks were reporting were so inside the box, I wanted to shake things up. Here's the post,

                                                                                                                                      1. re: escargot3

                                                                                                                                        Fried pickles are wonderful! I didn't know they existed in the Bay Area (though they really should be served as a side, not a condiment, to get the full effect). Slices are better than spears, though I'll take either.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                        Nope, didn't get fried pickles. I got regular fries and he got the garlic fries. He really liked the garlic fries. I thought the regular fries strangely didn't taste very much like potato, so I didn't end up eating most of mine. They are thicker cut than The Counter, and they did have skin on them, which I prefer.

                                                                                                                                      3. re: artemis

                                                                                                                                        Jack's is a bit of a conundrum. I think I've stopped by 4 or so times. Good venue: lots of booths, the communal tables. Trumer Pils is cheap.

                                                                                                                                        I've not had a poorly cooked burger in that way, at least.

                                                                                                                                        But I always want more. The burgers are .... OK.

                                                                                                                                      4. Two burger joints in the piece by Molly Gore in this week's East Bay Express on where chefs eat:

                                                                                                                                        Paul Canales (Duende) labels Smokehouse's Special Double Burger the "'best bad burger in town.'"

                                                                                                                                        Trueburger gets two nods--one from Dominica Rice's (Coseca) daughter and the second from Canales ("the 'best old-school hamburger standburger'").

                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: sundeck sue

                                                                                                                                          It's hard to refute the smokehouse quote.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                            The Smokehouse has been there forever. I think it was already an institution when my parents were at Cal.

                                                                                                                                        2. I don't think Hillstone has been mentioned. It's the spot that was Houston's for so long.

                                                                                                                                          Lunch menu is burger-heavy. They also have a veg burger and ahi burger. Topping is long on some slaw-like substance (that's not exactly slaw), and a big tomato slice, and well melted drippy cheese. Bun soft and brioche-like. A strong contender, and there's not that many good lunch spots for a few blocks.

                                                                                                                                          Annoyingly, they only seat complete parties, even when they have the table available. Very nice bar area. After all these years, I had never been inside (thinking it a little chain-ish), and it's quite tolerable.

                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                            Same ownership, just a name change since San Francisco is so anti-chain, I believe. I've not been to Hillstone either, but one big attraction is free corkage.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                              Their restroom is lovely, very zen like .. check it out. I've always enjoyed my meals at Hillstone. They have live jazz, not my preference, so I try to sit away from the music. Great baby back ribs, sometimes they have the most wonderful Maryland lump crab crabcakes, and they (at times) have great key lime pie .. all made in house.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                Yes, I'm quite anti-chain myself, and the place has the external look of chain-ness. Internally had more soul than I was expecting.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                                  Closer to you, Los Altos Grill is part of the same chain/restaurant group. And in Napa Valley, Rutherford Grill.

                                                                                                                                            2. Went back to Marin Joe's this past weekend and their charbroiled med-rare cheeseburger on sourdough is even better than OJ's! It's still my vote for number one in the Bay Area!

                                                                                                                                              1. Tried the bacon cheeseburger at Stacks on Octavia today. Not a bad offering at all. Not fancy, but very tender and very juicy, and cooked to medium rare as ordered. Could have maybe used a little more seasoning in order to stand up to the sharp cheddar, but a good burger nonetheless. The bun held up nicely too.

                                                                                                                                                With shoestring fries and a salad for just under $11.

                                                                                                                                                1. Had Super Duper Burger for the first time last night at the Castro location. I'd put it above In-N-Out, way above 5 Guys, but below Shake Shack or this type of burger. Fries were undercooked, but the garlic fries had a nice flavor, not the acrid bitterness of the ballpark garlic fries. Love the soft serve ice cream but the "chocolate" dip had zero chocolate flavor - like eating plastic. Free pickles were very good.

                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunnyside

                                                                                                                                                    That Castro location could use a little more training, from my experience. I've also had undercooked and soggy fries, and everything lacked salt.. Better results at other locations.

                                                                                                                                                  2. Dempsey's Restaurant and Brewery in Petaluma

                                                                                                                                                    Slid in three minutes before the kitchen closes, and the staff did not waiver in welcoming me to have a bite. I quickly ordered at the hostess stand --- cheeseburger ($11.50 including fries), medium rare, and a house-brewed root beer ($3).

                                                                                                                                                    Red onion and a leaf of Romaine were on the side for garnishes, but no tomato. The thick hand-formed patty was medium-rare as ordered with perfect char-grill markings. So juicy and deep in flavor. Served on a grilled Franco-American poppy seed bun with no mayo, butter or other dressing, the one small ding would be that the Clover jack cheese was softened but not really melted on top. Perhaps this is the price of ordering my burger rarer than usual. Very good hand-cut Kennebec fries, and the housemade bread and butter pickles were especially excellent. Very crisp with a hint of cumin and not candy-sweet, these "Best darn pickles", $7/pint, are available to take home.

                                                                                                                                                    * * * *
                                                                                                                                                    For those who had opinions about retaining display of usernames in the last reply date stamp after the last site redesign, the subject has resurfaced here,

                                                                                                                                                    "Last Person Posting?" on Site Talk

                                                                                                                                                    1. Have had friends in from NJ all week. Thursday we were in Napa Valley, left it up to our friends where to go for lunch.
                                                                                                                                                      They chose The Hydro Bar and Grill in Calistoga.

                                                                                                                                                      All but one of us had their burger, voted "best" by a local paper. Overall not bad, cooked medium as requested. Menu said 1/2 pound, seemed a bit less but plenty for lunch. Not the best burger I've had but good for lunch. I believe it was $7.95 with added items extra.

                                                                                                                                                      1. DH took us to Nopa last night after several failed burger encounters (see re: Umami, Jack's Prime, that place in HMB). The Nopa burger was fantastic, cooked medium rare with a nice char, picked onions, a great grilled bun, and fantastic fries. Nopa FTW.

                                                                                                                                                          1. Anyone try the offerings at the OTG burger pod? http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2...

                                                                                                                                                            I have enjoyed the Fiveten's grass-fed cheeseburger lately; it is sort of straight ahead home-style. Have not tried their garlic fries or truffled tater-tots. http://www.fivetenburger.com/

                                                                                                                                                            Doc's of the Bay is also a straight ahead home-style burger that is good, and their fries have a tasty seasoned-salt.

                                                                                                                                                            1. A day late, but I thought I'd report on the Alameda Grill, which claims to have the best burgers in town.

                                                                                                                                                              They may be right, at least for a burger in the nongourmet category. I got the giant (1/2 lb) cheeseburger (choice of american, american, swiss, cheddar, jack and pepper jack cheese) for a bargain price of $5.50 (add $2.75 to any burger for a fries and drink combo) and no upcharge for the grilled onions. The burger was cooked more medium than medium rare, and was juicy and meaty tasting, although since I ordered it without mayo or mustard, it could have used salt. The bun was a decent if standard burger bun, slightly toasted on the flat top. The lettuce was a nice piece of leaf lettuce.

                                                                                                                                                              Their fries are steak fries and were nicely crisped and not tough. The also serve real ice cream milk shakes for $3.25 with a small upcharge for adding malt.

                                                                                                                                                              Apparently the thing to get here is the Deluxe Korean BBQ Burger -- sauteed mushroom, grilled onion, mayo, lettuce, tomato, jalapeno, pepper jack cheese with house teriyaki glaze and special KBBQ sauce (hot and spicy), but I was more than satisfied with my cheeseburger. I also love that my eat-in order came wrapped in the traditional way, with the burger sticking out of a folder-paper pocket for easy handling, and placed in a red plastic basket. They take pride in their work: there's actually a video of them cooking burgers on their website.


                                                                                                                                                              It's a tiny place with a couple of mismatched tables outside tucked at the back of the Alameda Bike Shop parking area. The bad part: they're only open until 6 p,m. and closed on Sundays.

                                                                                                                                                              Alameda Grill
                                                                                                                                                              1520 Park St. (at Webb)

                                                                                                                                                              1. Stopping into Hi-Lo BBQ last night, I learned that they do a burger on Wednesday nights. The menu has changed format, so it's now small plates with meat entrees that don't come with sides. There's lots of interesting competition on their menu, but their use of aged beef was appealing enough to order it.

                                                                                                                                                                The preparation, a 1/2 lb. burger topped with pork belly, a bit of cheese, and chicharrónes sounds and looked like overkill, but the beef was strongly flavored enough to put the pork products into the background. I don't know enough about meat aging to tell whether the flavor was from spicing or aging, but the depth of the flavor was reminiscent of the aged 4505 burger. At the same time, it was a bit like the Nopa burger-- the rare burger had coarsely ground meat, decent height, and a loose but sturdy texture.

                                                                                                                                                                The burger came with a cumin spiced cole slaw. Not my thing. I can't remember the price, but with a jar of excellent pickles, beef tartare, smoked potato salad, and a dessert the very filling meal came to $63 w/ tax and tip.

                                                                                                                                                                1. I hope this is an appropriate post for this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                  I've read through three Chowhound threads on the topic of 'best burgers in the Bay Area', and my head is spinning. There are so many recommendations!

                                                                                                                                                                  I live in the Sac area and am trying to find a 'Top 5 [or so]' list of N Cal burger joints.

                                                                                                                                                                  From the Chowhound threads, these seem to be recommended by multiple Chowhounders:

                                                                                                                                                                  Zuni Cafe, SF

                                                                                                                                                                  Eccolo, Berkeley

                                                                                                                                                                  Mike's At The Crossroads,Cotati.

                                                                                                                                                                  Slow Cub, SF.

                                                                                                                                                                  Burgermeister, SF.

                                                                                                                                                                  Original Joe's, SF

                                                                                                                                                                  Trueburger, Oakland

                                                                                                                                                                  Townhall, SF

                                                                                                                                                                  Is that a reasonable Top 8 List?

                                                                                                                                                                  I'm not asking for complete agreement on such a subjective topic, of course, but there should be a list of joints that Chowhounders would more or less agree is reasonable.

                                                                                                                                                                  Also, for those of you who've tried burgers at Samuel Horne in Folsom, my local favorite, does it rate with those restaurants listed, above?

                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for any guidance.

                                                                                                                                                                  12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: SimSportPlyr

                                                                                                                                                                    The recent burger at Original Joe's (mentioned above) was one of my least favorite in quite some time, and the burger at Zuni doesn't work for me due to the focaccia that doesn't hold up.

                                                                                                                                                                    My top 5 in SF in no particular order:
                                                                                                                                                                    -Mission Beach Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                    -Mission Bowling Club
                                                                                                                                                                    -Slow Club

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: escargot3

                                                                                                                                                                        escargot3, I didn't realize that Eccolo was closed. Thanks for letting me know.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: SimSportPlyr

                                                                                                                                                                        You are missing Nopa on your list, which is my favorite and the favorite of many others.
                                                                                                                                                                        As noted below, Eccolo is closed.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: absc

                                                                                                                                                                          absc, thanks for mentioning Nopa.

                                                                                                                                                                          With the advice I got today, the list looks like:

                                                                                                                                                                          Burgermeister, SF.
                                                                                                                                                                          Mike's At The Crossroads,Cotati.
                                                                                                                                                                          Mission Beach Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                          Mission Bowling ClubMo's
                                                                                                                                                                          Nopa, SF
                                                                                                                                                                          Mo's, SF
                                                                                                                                                                          Slow Cub, SF.
                                                                                                                                                                          Trueburger, Oakland
                                                                                                                                                                          Townhall, SF

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: SimSportPlyr

                                                                                                                                                                            Burgermeister doesn't belong on that list--- it's a basic Niman ranch burger. Not bad, but not worth going out of your way for.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: SimSportPlyr

                                                                                                                                                                              I prefer the burgers at Phyllis' Giant Burgers in San Rafael (on the "Miracle Mile" extension of 3rd and 4th streets) over Mike's At The Crossroads in Cotati. It's a tiny dive-like place but the burgers are the best (also low priced). Grilled onions (free) by request.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: absc

                                                                                                                                                                              Reading up on Nopa, it appears that it's very popular and the wait can be very long.

                                                                                                                                                                              Do you know if it's possible ot get a seat at the counter/bar without a long wait? Also, do you know the non-busy times?


                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: SimSportPlyr

                                                                                                                                                                                It is possible if you go early but the bar packs up quick as well. You'll have luck if you go within the first half to one hour of their opening. Late Sunday afternoons has always been an easy time for a seat at the bar.

                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: SimSportPlyr

                                                                                                                                                                              I think the one burger there's a strong positive consensus for is Nopa.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks very much, sugartoof.

                                                                                                                                                                                I'll move Nopa to the top of my list.

                                                                                                                                                                            4. In lieu of the great prime rib that I've been ordering when we go to the Townhouse (Emeryville), last night (a month late for the purpose of the DOTM) I got the burger.


                                                                                                                                                                              Cooked perfectly. The meat seemed well seasoned.

                                                                                                                                                                              The bun looked to be a good choice re texture, nicely seeded. But the inside was dry and card-board-ish. And that did it in.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. tried acme burgerhaus on divisadero
                                                                                                                                                                                got the regular burger, med. rare (6.95)
                                                                                                                                                                                -meat was reddish but no juice
                                                                                                                                                                                offered upgrade of fries & soda (+1)
                                                                                                                                                                                -steak fries mushy, not crispy

                                                                                                                                                                                condiment bar available, fab service, burger a disappointment.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. For those who listed Kronnerburger, Tablehopper reported today that Chris Kronner is "95% sure" he's got space in Oakland off Piedmont Ave. Thus his planned closure Nov 22nd.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Current KB hours at Bruno's in SF are: Open Sun-Fri for dinner, 6pm-late. 2379 Mission St. at 20th St., 415-656-9871.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. We had the Nopa burgers last night. I ordered mine on the rare side of medium rare, wife ordered hers medium, both came out identically medium. Great beefy salty flavor but I wish mine was juicier – virtually no juice running onto the bun. I don’t know if the pre-salting draws too much moisture out or if it’s the way it was cooked – it was pink in the middle, but no juice man. I think I’m going to always order burgers rare in SF from now on, no-one seems to get medium rare right. Fries are awesome, loved the pickled onion, toasted bun with a little butter and gruyere. Also had great roasted broccoli with anchovy, lemon, breadcrumbs and lardon frisee salad and while waiting for our table had some excellent bar snacks – fish and chips and duck tenders – perfect kid size portions, my daughter had 2 orders of the fish and chips. Excellent cocktail, interesting Greek wine with my burger and a Moonlight Brewing Company herbed ale that tasted entirely of sage. One of the better meals I’ve had at Nopa overall.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunnyside

                                                                                                                                                                                      Equating a messy burger with juices running into the bun with flavor goodness strikes me as strange.

                                                                                                                                                                                      It sounds like your burger was overcooked slightly for your tastes, but a more rare burger would have resulted in a more delicate texture and more pink, not always the grease-fat-blood road spill some of you look for by preference.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sunnyside

                                                                                                                                                                                        Off-topic, I know, but that Moonlight Beer -- Previous Life Herbal Ale -- is very odd, but worth a try. It tastes like drinking stuffing!

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Found a good one last night

                                                                                                                                                                                        San Jose - Cafe Stritch is a largeish coffee house / bar / jazz spot right on South First across from the Alibi in the old "club district". We went down because I had a good feeling about the jazz group that was on, and they have a burger.

                                                                                                                                                                                        First point: it's CHEAP. Compared to all those other burgers I've been eating, I had to check again when the price was $8. That's with cheese and fries. Sure, blue will cost you an extra buck, but for a noteworthy burger at $8 all-included --- nice!

                                                                                                                                                                                        ( The drinks were also quite cheap. A house old fashioned with Bullit was also $8, and a "spiked horchata" (with things like Fireball) was $7. Only consider: this is not a wine place. There is no wine list, and the house malbec was so bad that I simply asked for a beer --- and nicely, they comped me, so I tipped extra).

                                                                                                                                                                                        The place is intimate, for the jazz, but not overly so. It's guys-against-a-brick-wall, but last night was a pretty exceptional group. It's most of the group The Yellowjackets, which has about 20 albums and a boot of grammy nominations. I was worried this guys would be a little "cool" for my taste, but they really spread it around, doing some soulfull loop-inspired bits, but also hitting some solid Monk, way up-tempo. Point is, this place seems to be able to book real jazz --- not sure if this is an aberation or not, these cats happen to live in San Jose.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The cover was $10 for the band, other nights is $15. There seemed to be no trouble with grabbing a burger and beer and not paying the band cover --- certainly wouldn't if you were sitting outside, but there's a lot of room in the back, too (and a darts area).

                                                                                                                                                                                        There are a lot of reports of terrible service at this place. We didn't see it. There was a lot of fist-bumping with the bartenders and people came in, seems like a lot of industry people on the late side because you can just grab a drink and not get hassled. The food is ordered at a separate register, with wireless buzzers about when to come pick up. I love that kind of system - faster ordering, faster food.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The burger is noteworthy because it's 1/2 ground beef, 1/2 bacon. You heard me, 1/2 bacon. The patty itself is neither gargantuan nor slim, the bun is an upscale brioche-ish kind of thing. The only downside is the veg, which is pedestrian, and no crazy toppings.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The addition of the bacon makes the burger worth a detour, at very least. They have a default medium-well because of the bacon, and simply take their word for it. The burger stays juicy.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The fries are a bit more like in-n-out than the extra-crispy multi-fried belgian kind. I like 'em this way, with a lot of potato taste, although they start out a little limp and go south quickly.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Rest of the menu is hipster basics, Mac and cheese and similar. However, they feature the Baby Back Ribs, and given the care they place in the Burger, a Ribs fanatic might well check them out.

                                                                                                                                                                                        CLOSED Monday and Tuesday, opens at 4pm, so no chance at a lunch burger if you're nearby at the Tech or something on a weekend. A crying shame, a hangout like this in SJ would be welcome.

                                                                                                                                                                                        One extra logistics note: last night there were two events. Some kind of Gala for the SJ Ballet, and some kind of country / norteno at the SAP center (HP pavilion / shark tank). These started at the same time and downtown was gridlocked. We parked way up by SJ State, where we used our City Bike Share keys to hop the 6 blocks straight down to S first in no time, where there's a bikeshare exactly where we needed it. SWEET.

                                                                                                                                                                                        21 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for the detailed report.

                                                                                                                                                                                          "The burger is noteworthy because it's 1/2 ground beef, 1/2 bacon." You rightly anticipated a double-take. Now if I understand from other details, the bacon is ground or mixed in with the beef, rather than cooked separately and added to the sandwich, right?

                                                                                                                                                                                          (Never before heard of quite such a combo, but it sure ought to taste good, it'll be like 40% fat! 55 or 60% before cooking loss. There's a tradition of "larding" lean roasts with bacon strands to add fat and flavor. Julia Child wrote that when young she once was served a slice of such a roast and guessed that the odd-looking pieces cooked inside were worms, but being a polite girl, she ate it all, and concluded that worms didn't taste half bad.)

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, the bacon is somehow ground in.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I didn't inquire about the prep method (there was a loud jazz band playing at the time), so I don't know if they do a light cook then grind in, or what. The bacon is seamlessly mixed, the bacony taste is well distributed, the smokey taste is apparent but not overwhelming, also meaning they're not adding fat back.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Given how the kitchen works, I suspect the correct orders at Stritch are ones where the cook-time prep is foolproof (also like the baby back ribs).

                                                                                                                                                                                            Given their concern about cooking to medium well, I think they're literally throwing bacon into the grinder. A trip sometime when a more senior guy is there - and when there's no music blowing - would tell the truth.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                                                                              Don Pisto's in North Beach makes a burger with Niman Ranch beef and bacon ground together, though not that high a percentage of bacon. And it's grilled over mesquite.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                                                                                                                FYI: Don Pisto's now only serves the "hamburguesa" on Wednesdays. The owner, and inventer of that dish isn't a fan and would have taken it off the menu if it weren't so popular. To me, it tastes like meatloaf on a bun.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hyperbowler

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Don Pisto's is going through some sort of identity crises since taking over a nearby taco shop location that was supposed to be serving a mini version of the burger.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  They didn't invent the dish, by the way. Also, in Mexico, there's now a tradition of literally putting ham in the hamburgers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks, I meant that the owner of Don Pisto's created the hamburguesa dish on their menu, not the dish in the general sense.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Huh, I didn't know that Nico's had closed. The menu for Pisto's [Tacos] lists them as having a "hamburguesa" taco: http://pistostacos.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: hyperbowler

                                                                                                                                                                                                      You're correct, the owner was essentially the chef for the Don Pisto's menu.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      The second shop has changed concepts a couple times already. At one point, there were reports it would become a private reservation restuarant, but the last I heard, it's a taco shop again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sugartoof

                                                                                                                                                                                                        It was definitely a taco shop when we poked our noses in last Tuesday. I didn't love our meal at Don Pisto's a couple of trips ago but I wouldn't mind giving this place a chance, possibly before hitting Church Key. Though the fellow at CK told me he is going to be starting a pop up there soonish, so maybe I'd just try that :-).

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: grayelf

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Another pop up? Add in Chubby Noodle and that's 4 places within spitting distance.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                                                                                                              Rickybobby also does a bacon and beef blend burger, and I would guess there's dozens of other places doing some version. It's a thing, the same way a brisket blend became a thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Gioia Pizza sometimes has a bacon-beef-brisket blend on their burger night, just to cover all the trendy bases. The packaged potato roll they've started using almost ruins things.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                                                                                                                Baron's Eats in Alameda has also been reported to have a burger called the "5150" Bacon Burger: 50 percent BN Ranch grass-fed ground beef and 50 percent Niman Ranch uncured maple bacon ground right into the patty itself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Someone is having a little joke with that name, "5150" burger --

                                                                                                                                                                                                  In case anyone was unaware of it, in California "5150" is a psychiatric classification codified into law as circumstances that permit involuntary temporary confinement of someone on psychiatic grounds. The term has also been used more widely and informally among local police officers, for decades, as shorthand to describe someone acting loopy in public, for whatever reason.


                                                                                                                                                                                                  -- As if to imply you must be a bit loony to want such a burger!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  ETA: once again, for some reason, CH deletes the final ) in a pinpoint Wikipedia link, so I converted it to a tinyurl alias here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The 5150 was a very important IBM part number, an iconic mainframe terminal. I suspect your etymology is correct.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                                                                                      and an excellent van halen album

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                                                                                        >The 5150 was a very important IBM part number, an iconic mainframe terminal.<

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I wonder if a long-ago IBMer knew that and was having his little joke?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                                                                                                                                                                                                          "I wonder if a long-ago IBMer knew that and was having his little joke?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Had the restaurant been in San Jose rather than Alameda, and the part number a disk memory, then I might have suggested that, Malcom. But "5150" is an everyday term among many Californians for the other reason. Ask any local cop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I meant that maybe the IBMer who gave the 5150 model number to the hardware knew about the cop-meaning of 5150.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Correction: the 3270 was the terminal, the 5150 was the IBM number of the original PC.


                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                                                                                            that's actually really fascinating. when you think of all the options of numbers to use...

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: bbulkow

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for the report.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have a quick note about their hours. Back when Stritch first opened they had lunch service, but ended up dropping it a couple of months later.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: robertee

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I can't complain too much because I'm never in that part of SJ myself during lunch, so I'd never give them my business....

                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. Aged beef makes a very different burger, and I'd imagine some people like it and others don't. Which burger places age their beef to a substantial degree that you can taste it? off the top of my head, these places have delicious burgers that have a distinct flavor due to aging:

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Kronnerburger (SF, soon moving to Oakland)
                                                                                                                                                                                                    4505 Meats (FBFM, soon to be brick and mortar on Divisadero in SF)
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hi-Lo BBQ (SF, only on Wednesdays)

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Cafe Epi is mentioned above. Others?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: hyperbowler

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Can definitely taste the aging in the 4505 meats burger. Very beefy.