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The SF Burger Topic


Kathy Kobata
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Gonna bump this thread out of frustration.

[rant]

I'll admit, I'm a bit picky about burgers, or as I like to put it, the burger triumvirate.

I want three things, and don't understand why I can't get them all at the same place.

I want a decent grilled juicy third pound of meat. Preferably Niman Ranch, Grass Fed, or equivalent.

Second I want a chocolate malt. Vanilla Ice Cream, Milk, Chocolate Syrup, and Malt. No soft serve, no chocolate ice cream. If no malted are available, I want a lemonade which involved lemons at some point in the relatively recent past or maybe a tasty micro-brew. Porter is just about the same as a chocolate malt...

Third I want decent fries made from fresh potatoes. Not frozen from a bag, not re-cooked baked potatoes, and most importantly no goddamn coating.

[/rant]

Burger Joint, good burgers, no malteds (good lemonade), mediocre fries.

Wolfe's Diner, bad burger, no malteds, best fries in San Francisco (IMHO).

Chow, good burger, good (if small) malted, french style frites (close, no cigar).

Taylor's Refresher, good burgers, chocolate ice cream in malteds (bad lemonade), coated fries (yuck!).

Back Burner Roadhouse (used to be Stix), Good Burgers (not Niman Ranch or Grass Fed, tho), haven't tried their malts, inconsistent fries.

etc.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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This is not a rec, but a remembrance that Mel's Drive In on Lombard has the whole shake/malt thing going. I only ate there many moons ago and can't recall quality from then and don't know where it is now... Comments?

I do like Zuni's burger and string fries. but this may not be the type of joint you have in mind. Maybe you could get them to whip up a fresh lemonade or at the very least a fresh lime juice margarita...

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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This is not a rec, but a remembrance that  Mel's Drive In on Lombard has the whole shake/malt thing going.  I only ate there many moons ago and can't recall quality from then and don't know where it is now... Comments?

I do like Zuni's burger and string fries. but this may not be the type of joint you have in mind.  Maybe you could get them to whip up a fresh lemonade or at the very least a fresh lime juice margarita...

I'm in the same boat on Mel's. I think I was there years ago. Don't remember anything particular about the food and/or beverages. Though, in a high volume tourist operation like that, I would imagine most everything comes straight from the food service supply company.

For some reason, I've never been to Zuni's. We used to live a few blocks from it, so I think it might be some sort of blind spot thing. Do need to get there one of these days. I did see Judy Rodgers go over her burger procedure once on Martha and have the cookbook. However, since I don't have a meat grinder, I probably won't be experimenting with it any time soon.

Must also give Big Mouth a try. I frequently transfer from BART at 24th, so it is practically on my way home.

fiftydollars, do you mean Original Joe's, Joe's Cable Car, Westlake Joe's or some other Joe's?

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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East bay - Val's Burgers in Hayward. (castro valley side) Been there for years. Still the place to go.

Charles a food and wine addict - "Just as magic can be black or white, so can addictions be good, bad or neither. As long as a habit enslaves it makes the grade, it need not be sinful as well." - Victor Mollo

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  • 3 weeks later...

Harry's Bar on Fillmore has quite a decent burger. The price is great and they serve until 2 in the morning! (This is new--it used to be 11)

The best part is that it is a thick burger so you can get it rare or medium rare. As a matter of fact they have a tendency to undercook them. The fries are good, too, but no malteds.

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Oscar's in Berkeley always had tasty burgers, according to friends. I always had their veggie burger and it was fab! I love the way that place smells as I walk by, mmmmm.....

East bay - Val's Burgers in Hayward. (castro valley side) Been there for years.  Still the place to go.

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The trouble with this thread is that whenever i read this i start making a list of burger places to try when i'm next in s.f. and then if i read it once too many times, i have to go out and buy the ingredients to make my own.

i really make very good burgers.

thickness is the key, and meatiness. all meat. unless i'm feeling oniony. and also, condiments, its all in the condiments for me at least. tonights burgers were served on mini-baguettes. fresh. hot. crisp. burger thick. juicy.

i'm sooooooo full now.

marlena

Marlena the spieler

www.marlenaspieler.com

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  • 1 month later...

I had a burger at The Magnolia Pub on Haight last night and was quite pleasantly suprised at the quality of the burger and sides. Half pound (a little big for me) of very fresh Niman Ranch meat, nicely grilled, butter lettuce and a ripe tomato. Very good Fries as well. As a special bonus, they serve all their sandwiches with Gus' New York style barrel pickles. I don't think they have malts; but, the cask conditioned ales I tried were pretty tasty.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I worked on Haight St and lived in Cole Valley for many years so know the Pork Store, Burgermeister, Magnolia very well. They're all...meh, strangely salty and/or too thick. I'm not an overstuffed-sandwich person in general, and prefer a higher bun-meat ratio than many. My last Mel's burger last month was a disaster -- greasy, crumbly. The Home Burger had a stale bun and, at $8.95, was not a bargain. Bill's on Clement was another ...meh.

Al's, a sliver of a place on Irving between 8th and 9th, has a surprisingly tasty burger for just a few bucks. Fries are good, too. Burger Joint (both Haight and Mission locations) has a nice, simple, Niman-Ranch burger I like. Juicy, not too thick, and nice milkshakes. Tony's Cable Car on Geary has a decent burger.

My winner is...don't scream...In-N-Out. Any location. I mean, please. A burger there is, what?, $1.59? Not that the price is the point, but it sure doesn't hurt. And I truly prefer these burgers to the others in taste. I think it's hard, in these troubled times, to believe in a tasty burger, widely available, that's CHEAPER than the multitude of inferior burgers being pawned off on innocents every day.

Calvin Trillin said that he doesn't trust a bbq place that uses plates. My theory in regard to burgers is that good burgers -- honest, ungussied, foie-free burgers -- are ordered at a counter. It's not a foolproof theory but as CT also says, sometimes you have to play the odds.

Edited by ingridsf (log)

My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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SeaCrotty and I had burgers at Joe's Cable Car this weekend, and were suitably impressed. Any place that can get a 4-oz patty to be truly medium-rare is worthy of praise in my book. The fries were OK, not stunning... but at least they weren't coated.

~A

Anita Crotty travel writer & mexican-food addictwww.marriedwithdinner.com

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Tried the Chez Maman burger the other night and wasn't over impressed. To me it was over seasoned, a little small and kind of lost in its over size hard roll type bun. Very good frites, though.

However, perhaps I will grow to love them, as they are opening a second restaurant up the street from me on Cortland Avenue, (sadly where Palatino used to be,) in the near future.

-Erik

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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My favorite burgers in San Francisco:

Zuni

Balboa Cafe

Slow Club

Pork Store

Have not tried Burgermeister but they recently opened just down the hill in North Beach, so we will try it soon. (It is conveniently located in the heart of my Saturday routine: North Beach Library, Graffeo Coffee, and XOX Truffles!)

"The smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us...."

Marcel Proust

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I peeked at this thread because I am planning a trip back to SF after moving from there about a year ago. I am already planning my visit to Absinthe for their burger--by far the best I have ever had. I always get it with the spicy onions and gorgonzola option. It's Niman Ranch beef and doesn't come with any sides despite the $10 price. Absinthe has great shoe-string fries and fried chickpeas, both good with the burger. By the way, I think the burger only appears on their Cafe menu.

Oh, I am getting hungry for my Absinthe burger! I urge all great burger seekers to try it (although a sazerac will have to substitute for the milkshake).

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I remember a place on Albion and 16th that had good juicy burgers and satisfying crispy spicy potato wedges. It was only open six months when I left in 2003, but it became a weekly staple for grease fix. Name? Still open?

Edited by raxelita (log)

Drink maker, heart taker!

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I remember a place on Albion and 16th that had good juicy burgers and satisfying crispy spicy potato wedges.  It was only open six months when I left in 2003, but I became a weekly staple for grease fix. Name? Still open?

I think that must be Kelly's Burgers? I don't know if it's still open or not but they did (do?) have a great burger.

"The smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us...."

Marcel Proust

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I remember a place on Albion and 16th that had good juicy burgers and satisfying crispy spicy potato wedges.  It was only open six months when I left in 2003, but I became a weekly staple for grease fix. Name? Still open?

I think that must be Kelly's Burgers? I don't know if it's still open or not but they did (do?) have a great burger.

Kelly's Burger is still around, they offer a good grease fix in the middle of the night but I wouldn't compare their burger to Absinthe or Zuni.

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FYI, in the lastest issue of GQ, Alan Richman rates burgers from around the country and cites Burger Joint as one of the favorites on his list.

Went to Burger Joint this evening, and was pleasantly surprised.

gallery_2_1391_3122.jpg

As you can see, the menu is minimalist and it is IMPOSSIBLE to order a meal without fries. FRIES ARE MANDATORY. You vill haf fries! Obey!

gallery_2_1391_11859.jpg

The counter.

gallery_2_1391_31476.jpg

Zee flame grilled burger, with mandatory, but excellent fries, which have skin on them. Perfectly medium rare as ordered, I may add.

My only complaint about this place is that they use Hunt's ketchup in the squirt bottles, which I have to say is about the worst possible choice you can have in a ketchup. Even Del Monte would be better.

gallery_2_1391_42375.jpg

A view of the griddle and grill.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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As you can see, the menu is minimalist and it is IMPOSSIBLE to order a meal without fries. FRIES ARE MANDATORY. You vill haf fries! Obey!

What I like best about that menu is that even though you have to order fries with your burger, you can also get fries on the side. In case you wanted, you know, more fries. :rolleyes:

Anita Crotty travel writer & mexican-food addictwww.marriedwithdinner.com

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...My only complaint about this place is that they use Hunt's ketchup in the squirt bottles, which I have to say is about the worst possible choice you can have in a ketchup. Even Del Monte would be better.

Hunts!

That’s really bothersome.

I lack your obvious expertise on the subject, but I share your dislike of the Hunt’s.

Last year, a local burger place got a little political and stopped featuring my favorite ketchup because apparently it was too blue for the owner’s liking. It really pissed me off and I haven’t been back since. Politics is one thing, serving fries with bad ketchup is entirely another.

A local burger chain, Nation’s, uses Miracle Whip instead of mayonnaise. I find that revolting. But that’s a whole other subject.

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Last year, a local burger place got a little political and stopped featuring my favorite ketchup because apparently it was too blue for the owner’s liking. It really pissed me off and I haven’t been back since. Politics is one thing, serving fries with bad ketchup is entirely another.

The thought had occurred to me that might have been Burger Joint's motivation as well.

Irregardless of the company's ties to Kerry and the Democratic party, I happen to really like Heinz products. Heinz recently released an Organic ketchup which I tried a few weeks ago for the first time at a local Legal Seafood back home in NJ -- I happen to like the taste of it better than their regular product because it doesn't contain HFCS, it uses organic sugar as a sweetner, in addition to organic tomatoes.

At around $2 per 15oz bottle its a bit more expensive than the regular stuff, but its good.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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