wes burger 'n more in the mission....burger and spice and that nice stuff
Just what everyone's post holiday days need is more burger time, since you were probably drunk and either didn't get one, don't remember actually having one or had a hot dog instead. I'm here to take care of that oversight with a dive into old-school burger time. These days it seems more pop-ups are finding their brick and mortar legs as permanent spots continue to open up around town. One of the latest in this line is Wes Rowe's Wes Burger 'N More in the Mission.
He used to do his pop-ups at Mojo Bicycle Cafe and while I'd heard about it, I'd never really gotten my lazy bum over there to try it. Now with the new space (and my irregular work schedule) I found it easy to pop-over a couple times and check them out. Walking in, the place reminds me of a throw back burger shop from a 60's mod time machine by way of New Mexico.
Yeah, kind of funky and different and perfect for San Francisco and the Mission District. I hit them up sort of mid-afternoons for the very reason you see in the photo, I knew not many folks would be there between lunch and dinner. I'd have the place to myself and could get a picture like a did. I also figured (hoped) I get something hot and made to order without a long wait too. It's the simple joys people. They have some different things on the menu like a burrito, fried chicken and a couple interesting sandwiches, but it's a burger joint and I didn't see a reason to get anything else first time out.
And that's what I did. I went in for the special burger of the day (which changes) the mushroom burger. Originally I was gonna skip the bacon add on and get tater tots but the tots ACTUALLY COME WITH IT AS A SIDE! NO EXTRA CHARGE! After I recovered my composure, I said, "well then, add some bacon on that burger!" It's $11 for the burgers with tater tot side and $2 for the bacon totaling $13. Sadly or not, outside of Super Duper Burger, that is kind of a burger bargain in SF.
It's a 6 ounce, coarsely ground, brisket burger with caramelized mushrooms, Swiss cheese, arugula and dijonnaise on a toasted brioche bun--and that bacon. All together, that is a lot on a bun and it is a pretty nice handful of a burger. I cut it in half to make it easier to eat. It comes out cooked to a medium-ish with a hint of pink. Their cast iron skillet cooking method adds a nice little crust on the outside too. It is a juicy mouthful of meat and will take you several napkins to get through. You get plenty of shrooms and bacon to be able to taste them all. I'm more of a mayo purist and could have done without the dijonnaise, but it is more of a light touch and doesn't really take away from the deliciousness of the burger.
As for the tater tots, THEIR TATER TOTS! All you have to do is not burn them to a crisp to have a childhood treat. These are deep fried, hot and crispy--more than enough to satisfy one's craving for them. Should you want more however, you can also get them with cheese or and even more covered and suped up version that changes weekly. And in case you missed it--burger good, tots good, all good.
While I was there, I noticed they had fried chicken on the menu along with some kind of Southern sides. Since I was full already, I made the decision to come back and try their version of this ubiquitous dish.
The chicken is offered up in regular or spicy and sandwich or plate. I went all in for the spicy plate and got mac and cheese and collard greens for sides which will run you $13. It was a coupled pieces of buttermilk battered white meat chicken deep fried to a super extra crispiness. It is almost like a shell around the outside of the chicken making for a crunchy eating experience.
At first it seemed odd, but I got the Nashville hot which was dipped in their super spicy hot sauce (you can see the red pepper oil gathering in the pic above) and if you are going to sauce up fried chicken you need the extra crisp so it doesn't get all soggy from the sauce. On that point they have succeeded. Sometimes the crust comes right off instead of being attached to the chicken causing it to be a bit of work to get it all together. The chicken inside is tender and juicy.
When you get the crust, chicken and sauce in one bite it truly has some kick. I don't mean just a little, I mean like the entire Kentucky Derby line up kicked you in the mouth while their hooves were on fire. It's hot baby! If spice ain't your thang, this ain't for you. Not just hot, super spicy hot. While they don't serve milk here (YOU SHOULD!) you may have to get a milkshake to to quelch the heat, otherwise, you will feel the burn. I could taste just the slightest undertone of sweetness too, though you might not catch it since your taste buds will already have been incapacitated. I like spice and even use sriracha to ratchet things up, but this did make my nose run and eyes water. Don't take that as a bad thing though, it is tasty and for those who love the heat, this will surely satisfy your palette. This is just a know before you go kind of thing. If it is not your thing, stick to the regular, non sauced version, your sensitive throat and stomach will thank you.
The mac and cheese was more in the baked casserole variety instead of milky creamy. I liked this version of it. It had plenty of cheese and the texture reminded me of cottage cheese, thick and chunky with nice sharp flavor. You get your own individually baked ramekin with a baked cheesy layer on top and some crunchy, buttery breadcrumbs to bring it all together. They should add some ground beef (and bacon) to this and served it as it's own cheeseburger mac and cheese dish. Just and idea.
The collard greens were stewed with small chunks of tomato and red bell peppers. It too had a spicy kick to it, not burn the roof your mouth like the chicken, but a decent little punch to get noticed. They were cooked well and had a tang like vinegar, something I personally like in my greens.
It was definitely an appetizing plate of food and makes for a nice change from a burger option for folks who may not be in a meat or bun mood. Just remember, in this case spicy really does mean HOT!
Wes Burger 'N More is the kind of place I wish we had in our SOMA hood, nothing against Umami Burger (well, yes I do, their prices are too high) but I'd be nice to have these burger and chicken options within walking distance instead of Muni then Bart or ugh, bus distance. The food is good and the prices won't necessarily break you budget for the occasional visit. And isn't that something we all want in a neighborhood restaurant? The answer to that is yes and right now Wes Burger is on fire! Or at least my tongue still is.