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September 21, 2011 Slideshows » Dining

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The Top 25 Burgers in San Francisco 

San Francisco is known for a number of foods -- cioppino, sourdough bread, Rice-a-Roni -- but in 2011, there's no food more popular here than the once-humble hamburger. Practically every upscale restaurant has a burger these days; the offerings have never been better. We chewed a lot of grass-fed beef to bring you our list of the Top 25 Burgers in San Francisco (which are not ranked in order). Hope you enjoy looking at them as much as we enjoyed eating them.
Albert Law
NOPA
Grassfed Marin Sun Farms chuck is ground in-house to produce this well-balanced burger on grilled brioche. Don't leave the pickled red onions on the side; they're the perfect topping.
Albert Law
Spruce
Sit at the bar at Spruce; you can't get the burger in the dining room. The bar service makes you feel special, and the burger itself -- plump with Niman Ranch beef on a housemade bun with house-pickled zucchini and red onion -- is pretty special too.
Albert Law
Lark Creek Steak
The steakburgers are all aged beef, ground in-house, and often include scraps chopped away while butchering more expensive cuts of meat, like rib eyes and Wagyu filets. The cowboy-style burger tacks on bacon and crispy onions.
Albert Law

Beijing Restaurant's "Chinese hamburger" is made with chopped duck, cilantro and jalapeno. It's great texturally, with bits of crispy skin and the jalapeno giving crunch, and the greens enliven the sumptuous duck. A non-traditional winner.
Albert Law
Citizens' Band
Citizens' Band excellent burger -- Snake River wagyu beef, thanks for asking -- is smothered in roasted tomatoes, not ketchup. Locals' tip: the same burger is cheaper at lunchtime.
Albert Law
Spork
While the Valencia St. restaurant has finally added a "normal" burger, we prefer the innovative inside-out burger: Two 4 oz. Marin Sun Farms patties on the outside encase the house-baked bun. It also comes with all the trimmings, as you can see, and the smashed new-potato fries are not to be missed. How do you eat it? With a knife and spork. Obviously.
Albert Law
Chow
The crusty baguette gives this burger an unusual cylindrical shape, begging the question of why exactly round became the standard for burgers. For a small American-food restaurant chain, it feels very French -- and that's not a bad thing at all.
Albert Law
In-N-Out
Food & Wine magazine called In-N-Out's Double Double Animal Style (grilled in mustard, extra spread, with grilled onions) one of the top 25 burgers in the entire country. We don't know if we'd go that far, but it's the best burger we can find in this town for under $5 (albeit before tax). And if you want to feel slow and inefficient, stand by the counter and watch the crew work.
Albert Law
Le Truc
Don't let the healthy slaw on top fool you. This food truck's burger is studded with cooked bacon, making it so juicy that it tends to drip all over. Avoid the temptation to eat standing up; take a seat inside the Le Truc bus and keep the burger in front of you.
Albert Law
Broken Record
Broken Record's burger looks like your basic pub patty, but when you bite in you realize: there's bacon in that beef. Ground in with the chuck, in fact. Yes, it's as good as you imagine.
Albert Law
Plant Cafe
Yeah, Plant Cafe's savory veggie burger is red -- the color of beets, not blood. It's also made with lentils, mushrooms, cashews and bulgur wheat, and is the finest veggie burger in town.
Albert Law
Mo's Grill
Mo's makes its seven-ounce burgers out of Angus beef, then grills them over volcanic rock. Volcanic rock! That's far more exciting than mesquite chips or cold, unforgiving iron.
Albert Law
Burger Joint
Burger Joint takes the basic fast-food burger concept and grills each one to order. The company claims to source humanely, sustainably raised beef. We spend 75 cents more for grilled onions (not shown).
Albert Law
Wayfare Tavern
Save room from Wayfare Tavern's famous free popovers for this mammoth burger made with grass-fed beef, smoked bacon and Mt. Tam cheese. The grilled red onions are as tasty as they are pretty.
Albert Law
Liverpool Lil's

Liverpool Lil's makes 'em thick: Eight ounces of Angus beef. Grilled onions, cola-colored and sweet. Melted cheese dripping down the sides. What more do you want out of a burger?
Albert Law
Roam Artisan Burgers
Roam's meaty burgers are made with grass-fed beef from Pacific Pastures, and are a cheap-for-this-town $6, sans cheese. Aged white cheddar adds a salty, umami-rich flavor well worth the extra buck.
Albert Law
4505 Meats
Artisan butcher Ryan Farr's burger often sounds like the least-interesting thing on the menu at his Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market stand. Don't be fooled -- Farr buys a whole steer once a month, and each week his burger varies depending on which parts he has left. So it's not just a delicious burger; it's an adventure.
Albert Law
Namu
Who needs catsup? Namu's burger can be slathered in kimchi relish. The soy-glazed onions add a balancing sweetness. Can't decide between a burger or Korean food? Have both.
Albert Law
Mission Beach Cafe
Go to weekend brunch at this popular spot for it and you'll notice an unusually large number of people having burgers before noon. That's because this grass-fed Prather Ranch burger on a Panorama potato-pepper bun is so delectable. Gouda cheese, caramelized onions, heirloom tomatoes and little gem lettuce complete the package.
Albert Law
SuperDuper
Super Duper's basic burger may be cheap for this town at $6.50 ($7 with cheese), but it's made with Niman Ranch beef and topped with house-made pickles. Try it with an organic egg.
Albert Law
Slow Club
Made from grass-fed Prather Ranch beef, this juicy burger tastes as farm-fresh as the tomatoes in the photo. Caramelized balsamic red onions add both sweetness and sourness, while a smear of horseradish adds a balancing tang.
Albert Law
Marlowe
Jennifer Puccio adds in a little lamb to her signature burger for extra credit. It's so juicy that you should beware of wearing the Giants' home whites to eat one before the game. The aioli smeared on the bun adds welcome hits of salt and garlic.
Albert Law
Serpentine
Serpentine's juicy Prather Ranch patty with housemade pickles and fresh vegetables almost qualifies as healthy. Order it during heirloom tomato season and it might be slightly different every day, depending on what's fresh.
Albert Law
Fifth Floor
Well-aged beef, a toasted brioche bun -- this is a burger you want to order rare. It's made from ground short rib, chuck and skirt steak. It's a little secret bargain from this pricey hotel restaurant -- you can get this burger at the bar with fries, a shot of Bourbon and a beer for $25.
Courtesy of Bix
Bix
The huge slice of grilled onion isn't the reason this burger, at $28, might be the most expensive in town. It's studded with black truffles, and if you're a fan, that's all you need to know. Even looking at the photo makes us crave a good Pinot Noir.
1/25
Albert Law
NOPA
Grassfed Marin Sun Farms chuck is ground in-house to produce this well-balanced burger on grilled brioche. Don't leave the pickled red onions on the side; they're the perfect topping.
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