A Sampling of Some of SF's Best Burgers
While most people think of San Franciscans as pretty healthy, we do like our burgers. Luckily, there are options to satisfy just about any kind of craving. There are so many excellent hamburgers out there it is impossible to list them all, but here are a few of the stars.
Great Burgers from Burger Joints
When it comes cooking anything in this town, the natives want the finest ingredients possible. That’s why many of the best burgers in the city are joints that got their start in the city, because they chefs and owners know what hits the mark in this town.
Places like Super Duper Burger where the name delivers. Adriano Paganini, who also runs Starbelly and Beretta in San Francisco, uses local meats like Niman beef, Petaluma chickens, as well as Strauss cream. The burgers, fries, and shakes (and soft-serve cones) are deliciously decadent. They are well known for their garlic fries—but make sure your entire party eats them, they are potent! Free homemade pickles are a bonus, too!
Deluxe may be in the name at Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers, but they have burgers in all sizes, including a popular mini burger. After you make your burger decision, you’ll struggle with the fries as they offer a full fry and onion-ring menu as well. For a real treat, try the Spicy Sly created by Korean American owner Sylvia Park. It’s got sautéed red and green peppers, caramelized onions, cheese, a little mayo, and a Spicy Sly sauce, which has habenero chilies and ground pumpkin seeds—irresistible!
Gott’s Roadhouse may have got it start in Napa, but it has found its real home in the Ferry Building. Classic Niman beef burger and other organic ingredients make this spot a must-try. Lines don’t lie and there is always one here. If you are lucky, they will appease your wait with samples of their Strauss farm soft-serve ice cream. One taste and it will have you reconsidering your order to fit in dessert. However, don’t skip out on the main star—any one of the burgers on the menu, including the highly regarded ahi burger, are well worth the wait.
For years the city’s only southern invader was In-N-Out Burgerm whose double-double or animal version hamburger keeps many a crowd at Fisherman’s Wharf satisfied, but for a local, you've got to really want that burger to brave the tourist zone! However, in the last several months we have seen the openings of two other LA-based burger giants: Umami and Smashburger.
Umami came first with Umami Union in Union Square. They have the classic Umami offerings, decadent burgers meant to hit every taste bud on the tongue. And their specialty burger just for this location—the bacon-wrapped scallop burger with a hand-chopped scallop patty with crispy pork belly, sweet chili sauce, and yuzu-garlic aioli—is something to behold, particularly if you don’t eat meat. Go with a friend to try it without missing out on a beef burger—order both and split them so you can enjoy the full range of burger possibilities!
Smashburger made its debut in Portrero Hill. They came into town with their smashed, seared, and seasoned-to-order beef burgers and proclaimed themselves to be a burger joint with a soul. Like Umami, they offer a uniquely local spin to their menu including the Bay Burger with arugula, sautéed portobello mushrooms, aged swiss cheese, and truffle mayo on a ciabatta bun. They also do a darn good milk shake.
Awesome Burgers on Regular Menus
There is no shortage of amazing restaurants in San Francisco, so it should be no surprise that many of them have really awesome burgers.
Spiced pickled onions and the housemade ketchup seal the deal on the burger at Nopa, a hard to get into spot near Alamo Square known for its rustic food. This is an upscale spot with impeccable service, so you can have your grassfed hamburger in style with one of the city’s best wine menus.
There is no shame in ordering a burger at a steak place. Especially at Epic Roasthouse, where they use a half-pound of wagyu beef ground fresh daily. There may be nothing better than eating a hamburger with a view of the Bay Bridge at night.
With caramelized onions, horseradish aioli, bacon, and cheddar, Marlowe’s burger is consistently on many of the city’s top 10 lists. Skip the fries and go for the fried brussels spouts, and then wash it all down with a brew from their beer menu.
This is just a small sampling—the quarter-pound version—of what San Francisco has to offer when it comes to hamburgers. No matter what the mood, classic joint or refined surroundings, simple or piled high, there is a burger in this city with your name on it—and probably some fries and a shake, too.