Best Burgers{Top 25} In SF And Oakland

Sure. Some people only want a burger if it comes from a diner or a drive-thru. But many of us have learned the virtues of the $12 or $15 or $20 restaurant burger, especially if we keep our burger indulgences to a minimum and don’t mind the splurge when there’s going to be a nice cocktail alongside it. When you crave something a little bigger, better “sourced,” and dressed up than an In-N-Out Double Double (which is still really good, I know), you can refer to this list below, which admittedly leans toward the San Francisco 2.0 end of the burger spectrum. And you all know you shouldn’t be eating beef when you don’t know where it comes from or how many cows are in that one patty, right?

 

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(Photo: Becky Berry)

4505 Burgers & BBQ
The 4505 burger was perfected over years by chef and butcher Ryan Farr, and now it has its own restaurant, where it stars on the menu alongside some very solid BBQ. It’s delicious, well seasoned and well sauced, made with grass-feed beef, and served on a crisp, griddled and butter bun with lettuce, onion, and gruyere. It’s dubbed the Best Damn Cheeseburger for a reason, and you won’t be disappointed. (And not that anyone’s arteries need this, but you might also, at least once, want to try theoff-menu “Big Mac,” which is two cheesy burger patties sandwiched around their fried mac-and-cheese patty that has hot-dog bits in it.) —Jay Barmann
705 Divisadero (at Grove) and Thursdays and Saturdays at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market

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ABV’s pimento cheese burgerErin B. via Yelp

ABV
ABV’s food guru Kevin Cimino hails from Greensboro, N.C, a place where pimento is the proper cheese with which to smear a burger bun. (Preferably, as in this case, that comes with your grandmother’s recipe.) Perfectly paired to ABV’s cocktail lineup, this $9 burger is humble in size alone and served on a sweet potato roll. The beef, topped with just a few briny pickles and onions, is 12 percent aged beef fat. Thanks to that fact, you may need a couple napkins (read: burger is juicy). — Caleb Pershan
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Biergarten
The obvious answer to where to go on a sunny Wednesday if you get out of work early (or if you’re funemployed) and you’re near Hayes Valley, is Biergarten. And Wednesday is the one day a week they serve burgers. The toppings on which change every week (the one pictured above featured a pile of crispy shallots, sweet peppers, and smoked blue cheese), but the thing is always made with a half pound of Prather Ranch beef. It is seriously goddamn good, and absolutely a good reason you should be leaving work early today. — Jay Barmann
424 Octavia Street at Fell

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Black Sands burger via Tumblr

Black Sands
Lower Haight brewpub-and-more Black Sands is already abuzz most nights, and one hot item so far has been the “smashed double double” burger. But don’t confuse this two patty creation (topped with tomato, grilled onions, and “special sauce”) with its In-N-Out’s inspiration. This is the one that’s $12, and you won’t be getting a chocolate shake — try a black IPA instead. —Caleb Pershan
701 Haight Street at Pierce

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Photo: Georg Lester

Bourbon Steak
Among the high-end burgers in town, where you’ll be plunking down more than $20 for your meat fix, I have some very high praise for the hand-ground steak burger at Michael Mina’s Union Square steakhouse, which is served primarily in the bar. It is dripping with flavor but not overly fatty, and more than (almost) any other burger in town, it will remind you what beef is supposed to taste like. It comes topped with Nicasio cheese and caramelized onions, along with some excellent duck-fat french fries, and if you’re looking to treat yourself some night and you’re wandering by, this is how to do it. — Jay Barmann
335 Powell Street at the Westin St. Francis

Burritt Room + Tavern
In addition to having a fancier steak-and-chop-house situation in the Tavern dining room, the Burritt Room bar serves a great, satisfying Burritt Burger ($15) with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and onion jam. It goes terrifically well with a cocktail, and is a great, under-the-radar option when you need to grab food next to Union Square. — Jay Barmann
417 Stockton Street

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Cafe du Nord burgervia Facebook

Cafe du Nord/Viking Room
Cafe du Nord’s reopening with the addition/subdivision of the Viking Room — in a new configuration that isn’t quite as amenable to live music — was met with arched eyebrows. But the food menu from Chef Thomas McNaughton — specifically the cioppino, the Parker House rolls, and the big bad Burger du Nord ($16.50) with melty cheddar — has assuaged all fears. This one’s a solid contender for your late night drunk meal, too, as the full kitchen is open until 1:30 a.m. — Caleb Pershan
2170 Market Street at Sanchez

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Photo: Facebook

Causwells
To create their memorable, addictive Americana burger ($15.75), Causwells took a cue from fast food, and simply dressed up the ingredients a bit for the SF palate. You’ve got two juicy, dry-aged patties layered with American cheese, topped with special sauce (in this case house-made Worcestershire mixed with house-made Thousand Island), with lacto-fermented pickles and crispy onions on a griddled bun. It’s some drippy, delicious stuff served with potato chips. — Jay Barmann
2346 Chestnut Street

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Photo: Georg Lester

Epic Steak
Epic calls their offering a “Bacon-Cheddar Wagyu Burger,” but for those averse to either they’re happy to offer it plain, they tell us today. For your $17, you get a coarsely-ground patty made with house-ground American Wagyu raised by former Silicon Valley-er Clydene Bultman on Thompson River Ranch in Marion, Montana. Beware: The burger is only offered on their brunch and lunch menus, and when asked if they’d let you order it at dinner, we got an “ummm” followed by silence. But for the “kind of steakhouse burger that all steakhouses should have, but sadly don’t” (as Jay Barmann put it) a trip during the day might be worthwhile. — Eve Batey
369 The Embarcadero

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Photo: Courtesy of Fog City

Fog City
Fog City serves classic American cheeseburger realness, if you are willing to accept “house-made American cheese” and “smoked tomato aioli” as classic. On top, you’ll find the standard dill pickles, tomato, and onion, making for a haute big mac with beef you actually want to eat. — Eve Batey
1300 Battery Street at the Embarcadero

Gott’s Roadside
Another very humble, basic, American burger (which here comes in a few varieties) can be found here at this Ferry Building spot, where people flock day after day to get their fix of the best fast-food-like burger this side of In-N-Out. In addition to a basic American-cheese-secret-sauce burger, you can opt for the Western Blue, which comes topped with a fat onion ring and blue cheese. — Jay Barmann
Ferry Building

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Photo: Food GPS

Heirloom Cafe
What began as an “off-menu” item at this wine-centric Mission bistro is now a well known, clearly announced option upon arrival, though it’s true that it does not appear on the printed menu. The delicious, red-wine-friendly masterpiece is made with mildly stinky Epoisses cheese mixed into the patty (with no cheese on top). It’s an incredibly juicy, uniquely flavorful burger that tastes redolently of cheese, and I can’t wait to have one again. — Jay Barmann
2500 Folsom Street

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The Hi Tops burger pictured here in a form known mostly to the carb-conscious, with a salad instead of fries. Photo: A.W./Flickr

Hi Tops
Probably the best burger in the Castro is the bacon-beef burger at Hi Tops ($12), in which you have a classic combo of beef and bacon, but the bacon’s always crisp and the patty is always juicy. The burger comes topped with Gruyere unless you say otherwise, as well as onion jam and aioli, and suffice it to say it is one of the ultimate hangover meals in the ‘hood. — Jay Barmann
2247 Market Street between Noe and Sanchez

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A KronnerBurger double. Courtesy of KronnerBurger

Kronnerburger
Salty, rare, and practically bone marrow sweet even without the addition of bone marrow (which is an option) the Kronnerburger ($12) might well be the Bay Area’s foremost beef treat. Meat pilgrims have followed the eponymous Chris Kronner as he popped up here and there, but now Oakland is the place to get your fix. Everything up to the lettuce — pure iceberg — has been carefully calculated, so don’t ask for “well-done.” And, if it’s not meat you seek, their veggie burger is its own kind of marvel. —Caleb Pershan
4063 Piedmont Avenue between Glen Ave & 41st Street, Oakland

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Photo: Jay Barmann/SFist

Maven
It’s one of those “why aren’t more people doing this?” situations: The secret to Maven’s delicious and uniquely spiced burger ($13) is a few dashes of Angostura bitters, which goes right into the meat. The bottle actually says it’s great with meat, but those bitters are typically always trapped on the booze shelf. Anyway, it’s one of the tastiest bets in town, topped with Muenster cheese and house pickles, and it’s been a hit since this place opened in 2012. — Jay Barmann
598 Haight Street at Steiner

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(Photo: Brian Smeets)

Mission Bowling Club
Bowling and burgers go together like bowling and burgers, and the granulated burger patty technique that chefs Danny Bowien and Anthony Myint perfected at Mission Street Food is used to great effect at SF’s answer to your suburban alley. Cooked in a shallow pool of beef tallow to form a perfect crust, the patty is nearly subsumed by Monterey Jack cheese, caramelized onions, and caper aioli, all within a bun that’s been toasted to perfection. Best of all, a buck from this $15 burger goes to benefit local non-profits, so you’re doing good even as you stuff your face. — Eve Batey
3176 17th Street at South Van Ness

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The Marlowe Burger: Adele F./Yelp

Marlowe/Park Tavern/The Cavalier
You can find the Marlowe Burger at two of Anna Weinberg’s area restaurants, Park Tavern and Marlowe, which means Chron critic Michael Bauer doesn’t have to travel far to score the Niman Ranch and lamb patty over which he regularly rhapsodizes. Drenched in horseradish aioli and topped with caramelized onions, cheddar cheese and bacon, it’s accompanied by some of our favorite SF french fries, making this can’t-miss lunch or dinner. — Eve Batey
Marlowe: 500 Brannan Street at 4th Street; Park Tavern: 1652 Stockton Street at Filbert Street; The Cavalier: 360 Jessie Street at 5th

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Nopa’s Burger via Facebook

Nopa
Nopa’s relatively highbrow offering in the burger category still packs them in. For $16.50 expect a lean but formidable grass-fed patty grilled over wood, topped with house-pickled onions, homemade ketchup, and set beside some of the better fries in town. Lushes are advised to keep the Nopa burger in mind as a late(r) night option: The kitchen keeps cooking and the bar keeps pouring those drinks until 1 a.m. — Caleb Pershan
560 Divisadero Street at Hayes Street

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1/2 pound Plum Bar burger via Facebook

Plum Bar
A burger from the Daniel Patterson Group? If that foodie cred alone doesn’t sell you, the genuine article itself is sure to at Oakland’s Plum Bar. You’re going in for a1/2 pound cheeseburger ($14) with bread and butter pickles, lettuce, and caramelized onion. Yes, you would like smoked fries with that, so pony up for the world’s most expensive “happy meal” ($25) — which is true to the McDonald’s original in terms of value: It comes with bourbon and a beer. —Caleb Pershan
2216 Broadway between Franklin Street and Grand Avenue, Oakland

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Photo courtesy of Prospect

Prospect
Prospect’s burger feels even more exclusive when you try to order it for dinner and hear, nope, it’s only available on their bar and lunch menus. A patty of house-ground Brandt Family Beef dressed in little gem lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, pickles, and “special sauce” between two slices of housemade bun, the simple, perfectly made burger comes on its own to you for $12.50. Toss on some Wagon Wheel cheddar for $2 more, bacon for an extra $3, and/or add fries for $5 to get yourself a real party. — Eve Batey
300 Spear Street at Folsom

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Photo: Facebook

Serpentine
This OG Dogpatch spot has probably remained as popular over the years as it has in large part because of its burger. It is a well-worth-it, $15 affair made with Prather Ranch beef, and topped with pickled onions and heirloom tomato, and you can add some optional cheese which in my book is never optional. They also make some solid fries, and the burger’s available all day. (The bar, however, opens at 5 p.m.)— Jay Barmann
2495 3rd Street

Trick Dog
A damn good burger can be found at this fancy cocktail joint, featuring a house blend of ground chuck, sirloin, and brisket, special sauce, pickles, onions, and an elongated, sesame-seed hot dog bun — thus: trick dog. It’s modeled loosely on something they used to serve out at the Olympic Club snack stand that co-owner Josh Harris used to love as a kid, but, obviously, improved. — Jay Barmann
3010 20th Street at Florida

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Photo: Facebook

Umami Burger
This Los Angeles-based chain took SF by storm a couple years back, and while the raves for their burgers haven’t flowed with abandon here the way they did when this place debuted in SoCal, they still make damn good burgers with a lot of creative toppings and various. Each location has a slightly different menu — I like the Manly, available at most, with beer cheddar cheese, bacon lardons, and smoked salt onion strings — and they feature out-of-the-box versions of classics, like the Throwback: two 3.5-oz seared beef patties with white cheddar cheese, miso mustard, Umami house ketchup, soy pickles, and McDonalds-style minced onions. — Jay Barmann
242 King Street and 2184 Union Street, SF; 2100 Franklin Street, Oakland

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Photo: Brian Smeets

Wayfare Tavern
Tyler Florence made sure there was a top-notch burger ($22) on his tavern’s menu from the get-go, and though some of the rest of the menu has changed since Wayfare’s 2010 opening, the burger hasn’t. It’s served on a delicious brioche bun and made with a proprietary, grass-fed beef mix and comes topped with Nicasio cheese, red onion marmalade, bacon, and an optional (I’d say mandatory) fried egg. It’s a sloppy, satisfying mess to eat, and continues to be a top seller for the FiDi crowds. — Jay Barmann
558 Sacramento Street near Montgomery

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(Photo: Wes Burger)

The Wes Burger
We’ve been following burger maven Wes Rowe since his riff on a stoner favorite from Jack in the Box back in 2013, but his Wednesday pop-ups at Mojo Bicycle Café have proven that he’s the real deal. Wes’ patties are ground brisket, salted and seared on cast-iron before getting hit with a variety of fantastic toppings (last night it was a “jalapeno popper burger” with fried jalapenos, cream cheese, sliced onion, and ranch, for example). Keep an eye on his Twitteror Facebook for what’s on the burger agenda this week, and hit the charger and the ATM before you go: Mojo is cash-only and has “No WiFi, No outlets” as it “is not an internet cafe.” You have been warned! — Eve Batey
Wednesdays from 6-10 p.m. 639 Divisadero Street at Grove Street

BY JAY BARMANN

Honorable Mentions:

900 Grayson (Berkeley)

Double Decker (465 Grove Street)

Rickybobby (400 Haight Street at Webster)

Sam’s (a classic, 618 Broadway)

Spruce (3640 Sacramento Street)

Starbelly (3583 16th Street)

Super Duper (Various locations)

Trueburger (146 Grand Avenue, Oakland)

The Whole Beast (for their excellent Lamb Burger served at The Hall)

Zuni Cafe (for a focaccia-topped version, at brunch)

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