Chef Ryan Farr is a genius with his meats. His burger starts with Magruder Ranch Beef -100% grass-fed dry-aged beef. For each batch, he grinds different cuts of meat with some fat. Some days you get sirloin, some days you get short rib. All this is done just the night before to ensure freshness. The bun is a scallion-sesame bun which he uses to pile on the grilled beef, tomato, lettuce, and a mezzo secco (partially dry) jack from Vella Cheese Co. in Sonoma. All this makes for one of the best burgers in town.
Gott’s Roadside, formerly known as Taylor’s Automatic Refresher, makes sure their patties come from grass-fed cows from local farms and contain no antibiotics or hormones. Their classic cheeseburger is outstanding: American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles & secret sauce on a toasted egg bun with that great shade of yellow. Order a side of fries and a shake and enjoy the scenes of the water and ferry boats in the distance.
In-N-Out has a limited menu: hamburgers, cheeseburgers, or double doubles (2 meat patties and 2 slices of cheeses) and French fries, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that’s ALL you can order. First off, their burgers are made to order and are topped with spread, lettuce, and tomato. Make it “animal style” to add pickles, mustard, extra spread, and grilled onions! Shhh, it’s on a “not so secret” menu. Hint: you can make any item “animal style.” Truly a California treat.
This tasty, half-pound burger goes great with a pint of one of the many beers served at the gastropub in the Haight District. The beef comes from Prather Ranch – they are very particular about where they get their meat. The basic burger is delicious itself, but why stop there? Top it with chedder, blue, or Gruyere and Hobbs bacon. The magic comes from the fantastic caramelized onions they serve on the side. Wash it down with a hoppy bitter like their Billy Sunday.
Enter the doors of Slow Club and you feel as if you were part of a secret society. This space used to house a garage. This burger is incredible because of all the great things that go in it: Prather Ranch dry-aged ground beef, tomatoes, greens, balsamic onions, Dijon mustard, aioli & cheese. This burger will literally melt in your mouth. The onions add some sweetness and the aioli and Dijon lend a little bite. Such a well-rounded burger that will disintegrate effortlessly as you eat it. The fries that come with it are addicting as well.
These “Shibuya Sliders” are a bit different. Not only are they made with American Kobe beef from Masami Ranch, but they are served on mini steamed buns. This is a perfect example of an East-“meats”-West burger from the pickled cucumbers, spicy aioli, and fried shallots. Best believe one won’t be enough. They’re perfect with a cocktail during Umami’s “sumo hour.”
Ask any San Franciscan to give you a “quintessential” San Francisco restaurant and they will direct you to Zuni Café. This establishment in Hayes Valley serves some of the best food from their mesquite grill – their burger being one. The beef is house-ground and is served on grilled rosemary focaccia rather than the customary bun. Garden lettuces, aioli, and Zuni’s house pickles finish off the plate. Not awfully traditional, but it is made with care resulting in a flavorful dish.
Joanne Boston is a food blogger from San Francisco who is always on the lookout for great food. She loves hosting twEAT-ups with fellow foodies and enjoys learning about the restaurant scene in any city she visits. Catch her on her blog www.jobostonisafoodie.blogspot.com and on Twitter @joanneisafoodie.