There are plenty of spots to grab a burger in San Francisco, but finding the best is a daunting task. Thankfully, we've pulled together a list of the city's top burgers that will not only save you the troublesome hunt, but also assure that you have plenty of options from which to choose. Whether you're a long-time vegan or a meat-loving fool, you're sure to find a burger that's perfect for you.
A popular corner bar and restaurant in SF's Cole Valley district, Kezar has been slipping under the radar for years — a good thing for local residents, who prefer its undeniable neighborhood vibe. While the eatery serves up a selection of nightly entrees ranging from baked salmon to pan-seared gnocchi, it's the burgers that have really captured patrons' hearts: most notably the lamb burger, a thick and juicy patty best topped with caramelized onions and feta cheese and served on a house-baked onion and poppy seed bun. The thick cut fries costs extra, but are they divine.
The original locale of this beloved Bay Area burger chain sits right across Carl Street from Kezar, at the western beginning of SF Muni's Sunset Tunnel. Following a couple short-lived restaurant ventures, owner Paul Mogannam found his groove with BurgerMeister, a bright and casual space offering up customizable burgers made with mouthwatering patties of Marin-sourced Niman Ranch beef. Choose from a variety of cheeses like bleu and pepper jack, or try one of the eatery's tried-and-true menu items, including the Western Burger made with Tillamook cheddar cheese, thick-cut bacon, onion rings, and housemade BBQ sauce. Vegetarian options and gluten-free buns are also available, as are milkshakes, malts, and sweet potato fries.
A favorite late-night haunt among restaurant workers and anyone who appreciates delicious food past SF's notoriously early standard dinner hours, Divisadero Street's Nopa is not only one of the city's perennial top eateries, but it also boasts one of its tastiest burgers to boot. Nopa's wood-grilled burger is a menu standout (and one of its most affordable entrees), a plump patty of grass-fed beef with a salty kick and a topping of pickled onions, lettuce, and optional cheddar cheese, served with a side of fries and housemade ketchup.
Another local chain, Super Duper utilizes locally sourced ingredients — including freshly-ground, vegetarian-fed beef from nearby ranches — and slow food values that keep its growing clientele happy, (as does an endless supply of complimentary housemade pickles). Burgers come in two sizes: mini (one 4 ounce patty) and super (two 4 ounce patties), and are made-to-order with free toppings like grilled onions, tomato, and jalapeños and extras ranging from an organic egg to Cambozola cheese. Order at the counter — where sides of cheddar-topped garlic fries and shakes made from Straus Family’s organic cream make oh-so-fine additions.
Since first opening its SOMA neighborhood doors in 2010, Marlowe's burger has acquired legendary status. This New American bistro is already known for its meat-centric offerings, items like grilled pork chop and Angus ribeye, but it's the Marlow Burger — an earthy and flavorful beef patty blended with 20 percent lamb, then piled high with cheddar, caramelized onions, bacon, shredded lettuce, and horseradish aioli (which adds an extra bite) and served with either salad or fries — that has reached an almost mythological level. It's so good, in fact, that it's also being served at the Big Night Restaurant Group's other SF properties, Park Tavern and The Cavalier.
Texan native Wes Rowe wasn't a restauranteur by any means when he started creating his now famous all-brisket hamburgers, but he knew what people liked: juicy, savory patties that don't skimp on flavor. Today he's the tour de force behind WesBurger 'N' More, a diner-inspired Mission-based eatery serving up a handful of innovate burger offerings: like The Hot Wes, a 6 ounce cast-iron skillet-cooked patty stacked with onion rings, queso, and pickled jalapeños; and the PB&J Burger, smothered with peanut butter, sharp cheddar and jalapeño strawberry jam, then topped off with onion rings. A WesBurger perk is that it's open late-night from 11 p.m. until 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, when the burgers are also available at the adjacent Den, a miniature punch bar that's standing room only. The eatery also serves up free lunchtime tater tots on weekends
Home to one of San Francisco's last old-school wood-fired barbecue pits — a historic brick pit left over from the location's former BBQ shack, Da' Pitt — 4505 Burgers & BBQ draws huge crowds with its smoked meats and sandwiches, including the Best Dam Grass Fed Cheeseburger, a quarter pound patty bursting with juice and made from quality grass-fed beef, topped with lettuce, onion, Gruyere cheese, and secret sauce on a sesame & scallion bun that's both buttered and griddled. Top it off with an egg or a slab of bacon (or both) for the ultimate burger treat. Situated on the corner of Grove and Divisadero streets on NOPA's hoppin' “Divisadero Corridor,” the eatery offers plenty of outdoor and patio seating created from a former shipping container.
For an excess of vegan offerings, nothing beats the Haight-Ashbury's VeganBurg — a counter-service cafe serving up 100 percent plant-based burgers in a clean, bright, garden-inspired setting. Founded in 2010, the franchisable business boasts both gluten-free and soy-free patties as well, and offers up options like the avocado beetroot burger, the smokey BBQ, and the Hawaiian teriyaki, along with sides of everything from seaweed fries topped with loaded 'shrooms to sizzlin' broccoli. It's fast food dining for the sustainable crowd.
Located along the heart of Valencia Street in the city's Mission District, West of Pecos is both a cocktail bar and restaurant in which Southwestern-inspired cuisine reigns supreme. This even extends to its burger, a patty piled high with green chile and queso, then smothered with a special sauce and served with a side of shoestring fries. While beef is the norm, West of Pecos offers an Impossible Burger (known for its meaty flavor but made entirely from plants) option as well.
The city's best burgers don't always come from the places you'd most expect. Namu Gaji is a Mission District neighborhood bistro serving up a bounty of Asian-inspired dishes using locally-sourced ingredients and utilizing Korean Natural Farming techniques. Along with entrees like Wagyu steak and cabbage-filled okonomiyaki, Namu Gaji's menu includes its own version of the burger, delicately stacked with two beef patties, pickled daikon radish, onion, Dijon mustard, and bacon jam and held together with a house made bun, with an egg or cheese if you choose. It comes with either a salad or hand-cut fries on the side. The bistro's open kitchen means you can watch your food made-to-order, including the ever-delicious gamji fries: hand-cut potato fries served up beneath a healthy helping of kimchi relish, gochujang kewpie mayo, and beef bulgogi.
Union Square's always bustling gastropub opened in 2014 and has been drawing crowds into its 3,000-square-foot space since. This vast dining hall is known for its selection of barrel-aged cocktails, constantly rotating microbrews — crafted onsite — as well as an expansive selection of seasonally-driven all-day eats. These include the Bartlett Burger, a patty of delicious Niman Ranch beef beneath layers of caramelized onions, gem lettuce, and chive aioli, all served on a locally-baked Acme bun with a side of fries. If meat isn't your thing, opt for Bartlett Hall's Impossible Burger, made with a plant-based patty topped with lettuce, onion, and vegan aioli.