The burger at Garaje....I'm going double meat down on this
Burgers, they are a dime a dozen in this town. Every restaurant from high end to casual to greasy spoon has one on their menu. There are even innumerable spots in SF alone that are solely dedicated to them. There are also lists galore espousing on who has or which one is the best burger in town. From my stand point, I've read all those lists and over the years, have tried to get around to trying as many of those burgers as my stomach can handle. While I eat my fair share of chicken and fish, about the only time I do read meat these days is in burger form.
The quest to see if any of these burgers are good is what brought me back to Garaje. I'd been there before and loved their loaded taquitos and been back on a couple occasions for some of their other offerings. Though each time I sort of eschewed their burger in favor of something different. Since they have been open though, their burger seems to have gotten noticed and seems to always show up on those "best of" lists for burgers. Well, I finally broke down and decided to just suck it up and try the burger, new year's resolutions be damned!!
It's their famous drive-in style burger and comes in either a single or a double. Well, if I'm gonna try one I may as well go all in with a double, which is exactly what I did. The single will run you $10, the double $13 and then it is $3 more for a side of fries with it. I'll talk about cost in a bit.
That's two six ounce patties cooked to roughly medium-ish with four slices of American cheese, chopped lettuce, pickles, tomato, grilled onions and 1000 island dressing on a toasted Acme bun. It's a decent sized burger and adding that extra patty makes it even more so. To be honest, price is one of the things that kept me from trying this before. I mean, I rail against $10 or more sandwiches and I feel the same about that for burgers--with no sides!! Yet, here I was plunking down $13 for a double and then coughing up the extra $3 for some fries (I probably didn't need). I guess in the scheme of burgers in this town it is like paying $16 for a burger entree at a sit down restaurant. Not only that, but you could upgrade it with even further costs with bacon $2, fried egg $1, aged cheddar $1 or even guacamole $3. Yikes, with tax that would be close to $25! Still, it just feels a bit different paying that at a spot which is more like a bar. An unfair assessment for sure so I really wanted to keep an open mind when trying it.
When you cut it open, the above is what you get. You see it is a lot of meat going on and the toppings are plentiful from the onions to the lettuce. Plus they did cook it up perfectly with just a hint of pink running through the middle. Each is made to order so it does come hot, juicy and full of melty cheese. It is a big bite I have to say, I liked very much. Super meaty and cheesy and served on a soft toasted brioche bun, it all works from first bite to last. They call it a drive-in burger but to me, it was more a riff on a Big Mac especially with the two patties and the 1000 island. Except here, the meat is real, not frozen and much more plentiful than you will ever get at a fast food joint. From the tang of the dressing to the sweetness of the onions to the crunch of lettuce, it is a flavorful old school burger bite I did find both satisfying and filling.
Beyond the cost of it, I could totally understand why this shows up on all those lists--it stands up to most all the other ones around town. If I did a list of best burgers in town I would definitely put it on there. (Hey wait, that is a great idea for a post! Eventually.) This is two handed hunk of meat, bread and toppings that is messy in all the right burger ways. While not sure I would go all in on the double again, I would still be more than up for having the single patty version again. It would help save room for.......
the side of french fries I got with it. I was there on a sort of busy mid-week lunch time and fries were being cooked to order as well. I got a nice portion size which was golden and crispy with just the right amount of salt sprinkle. I think just as a side, price and taste made them worth it.
What can I say, I've succumbed to burger aficionados (snobs) in this town and actually like something they rate so highly, even at crazy sandwich prices. I know I shouldn't be so harsh, but with my cheapness and slim wallet, it's hard people. If you are looking to round out your own list of "where to get a burger in SF" you should add Garaje's to your places to check out. It has all the hallmarks of a good burger--perfectly cooked fresh meat, lots of cheese, fun tasty toppings and a soft toasted bun from a local bakery. Sure, a bit pricey to have everyday, but then you shouldn't be eating that much red meat anyway. But when you live or work down SOMA way, it is definitely worth your time and money to pop in and give it a try with a side of fries and taste why it is so "best of" list approved.