Bay Area burger bonanza
Who doesn't love a good burger?!! Anyone who has eaten around this town and its outer cities knows burgers are the thing. You can talk all you want about brunch, but if you notice those brunch menus, they all have a burger on them. It may be non-traditional, but it is there. I have eaten my fair share of burgers and all its accoutrements (bacon, cheese, fries, lettuce, tomato, etc.) I feel I have a taste for what there is on offer. Over these past years I never really thought about doing one of those wraps ups about the best burger as there seem to be so many of them in most every review site. But then I was scrolling through my food photos and thought, well why not do one.
Now, everyone has their own ideas of what is a good burger and they use innumerable judgements to make their lists. Mine is pretty simple, did it taste good. Sometimes I'm like, did it taste good and how much did it cost me, but mostly, it really does just come down to taste. Since I have a tendency to go outside the norm for food, I figured I would do a couple posts of some off beat spots both inside and outside the city, who's burgers I've had and liked well enough to say you should probably give them a try.
Reaching way back and down south a bit was this mushroom burger from JoAnn's Cafe in South San Francisco. They have that 50's diner vibe and the prices are so not city ones. It is an out of the way spot, but the burgers are cooked to order and you get massive amounts of fries and toppings. Worth the trip down there? Eh, maybe, but if you are in the area then definitely an off the beaten track spot to chow down.
Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe in Emeryville (Oakland) is another of those 50's themed diners with breakfast for days and burgers by the bun load. I do think their prices are bit high, but they do a real fine job on a thick slab of burger which also comes with some double crispy fries hot out of the fryer.
Old Brooklyn Cafe and Bakery in downtown Oakland (I do get around for a burger!) is your basic no frills spot with sandwiches, baked goods, some breakfast thingys and of course a selection of burgers. I went in for the feta cheese and bacon because it was different and they serve them up on brioche buns with some old school fries on the side. It ran $14, the price you seem to pay these days for bacon, but it was cooked well and satisfied they craving we were having.
Holy Grill in the Design District area is a favorite go to when I wanna order in a burger. They are big, affordable and usually come still hot and juicy for delivery. I have had more than three but less than ten or so from them and each time has not disappointed. You can also get some mean onion rings and hot dogs from the too.
Here's a spot most people don't know about (still!), the Pin Up All Star Diner at Yerba Buena. It is in the back above the ice skating rink. With all the construction going on down there, I know it seems you can't get to them or would be a hassle but it isn't. I did like their burger and most definitely the waffle fries. I did ding them a bit for their prices, though they have a "diner special" which includes a burger, side and soda, but that will still set you back about $18. Still, if you want an out of the way spot to show what a local you are, this is probably it.
Okay, so this place is pretty much a chain but sometimes you don't want to think too hard about what you are getting. You just want a burger in a wrapper and sit down at a laminated table to eat it and mind your own business. As an alternative to the other big boys you all know, Smashburger is a decent alternative. You get you choice of cheese and toppings, not to mention sauces. Plus, instead of fries they have a veggie frites options. And the above will only set you back about $10 including a drink. Sometimes that is all you want and this place fits that bill.
Wanna totally go off your diet and the rails? Then you can't do any worse, or better, than this donut bacon cheeseburger from Straw in Hayes Valley. The whole menu is carnival themed and this is a gem on the menu. A Krispy Kreme like donut glazed to perfection and inside a juicy patty with copious melted cheddar cheese and several slices of bacon. It was a real savory sweet treat which hit all my taste spots. It isn't something you can eat every week, but for something fun and funky, think birthday or special occasion, it is a super tasty treat.
That is enough meat for now, but I have a handful of other places where I think the burgers are some of the best you will find in San Francisco. Those choices, like the above, may not jibe with what others think but who cares! Burgers are a lot like pizza, everyone has an opinion and really likes to share it. Now you can add my burger voice to all the other ones out there--just not all the same burgers.