The SOMA part of town (near the baseball park) is a hit or miss 'hood when it comes to food. It's kind of a hodge podge of ballpark catering low end joints and some really high end (expensive) stuff. For those of us who live down here it doesn't feel like there are many choices, particularly on weekends and evenings when a number of the places, that seem to cater or draw the start-up lunch crowd, are closed, leaving residents with few options. A handful of places have even come and gone recently like the outpost of Burger Joint, which scaled back their operations to the original location and the ones at the SFO only, supposedly due to financial issues of late. The space they were in didn't stay vacant long, and while I had hopes for something more interesting, it was snapped up by Umami Burger. A seemingly affordable burger place replaced by a moderately less affordable burger place--ahhh...only in San Francisco. This is the second location in SF for this emerging California mini-chain and I'd already been to and reviewed the original Union Street location. Because of pricing I wasn't overwhelmed, but because the SO hadn't tried the place so we decided to go and check them out since they are just down the street.

The space has been made over to be the same wood, steel, darkness kind of thing like the other and pretty much every other new lofty looking restaurant opening in this town. The high ceilings do make it feel big though. The menus (and sadly the prices) are the same though they were introducing a new burger here called the caprese (like the salad) and the SO and I decided to give that one a try first.

Their signature 6 ounce patty with basil almond pesto, heirloom tomatoes, burrata cheese, arugula, basil, a truffle reduction on a toasted bun. The meat is cooked medium rare (closer to rare) and they do a good job on the grilling with a nice char on the outside and juicy inside. The pesto was nutty and bright which was nice but it did sort of hide the taste of the creamy burrata--a cheese I'm a big fan of. The tomato had a pleasant sweetness highlighted by the balsamic and a great compliment to the arugula. Though what the burger missed a bit was some texture, which I guess can be a personal choice, but it had no crunch. Everything was soft and melded together, though the big plus is that the flavors do work quite well together. Not wanting to stop at just one next up was the manly burger.

The standard patty with beer infused cheddar, bacon lardons, smoked-salt onion strings, house made ketchup, mustard spread on a toasted bun. Again, for me a good job on the meat cooking, though do note they err on the side closer to rare and have on both my visits so if you like it a little more done then make sure to request it. This was a real bar type burger. You could taste the beer, but not too strongly, the bacon was nice and smoky and the fried onions gave it some good crispy saltiness. Though the whole burger has a kind of saltiness which helps with their special ketchup which is on the sweeter side of ketchups. Again they've done a good job of blending layers of flavors. I liked both burgers and so did the SO, though he leaned more toward the caprese.

If nothing else, Umami does make some tasty burgers, I don't begrudge them that. My issues solely seem to come down to the fact that they aren't the biggest burgers around. While they are not slider small, they still fit in the palm of my hand and the caprese is $15 and the manly is $12--and no that does not include sides--just the burger. We did split some sweet potato fries for $4 which were done crisply though a bit under salted, but that was easily fixed. I guess in the end I would recommend Umami if you don't mind paying high end prices for what amounts to a round sandwich. Though I guess when you compare it to what you'd pay at the ballpark it's a wash. And if they want to be another place down here that caters to highly paid techies and non-local baseball fans then so be it. For me, I'll just wait and hope that eventually some places will open down here that realize some of us live here full time and will cater us, cause if it's good, we'll support them.

Umami Burger on Urbanspoon