Where is the best hamburger in San Francisco? A good burger should be simple and classic, like Burger Meister. They should be under $10 and only cooked to be medium rare or less. If that’s not an option, I’m not interested. “Gourmet” burgers are ok under certain circumstances, but in my opinion, the point of a hamburger is to be delicious without being gourmet.
In addition to Burger Meister, another one of my favorites (partially for nostalgia reasons) is Five Guys. Often put in the same category as In-N-Out, Five Guys is a Mid-Atlantic staple. Like In-N-Out, they’re only a couple steps above fast food in price, but leaps beyond any fast food in quality. My only question is: why does everyone have to pick a side when both places are mentioned together? It’s your classic east coast, west coast rivalry I guess. Like everything in this world though, both places have their strengths and their weaknesses. And trust me, if you eat at one you will not be banned from the other.
Another place that's up there on my list of top-notch burger spots in San Francisco is Pearl’s Deluxe Burgers. When I first moved here they were located only a few blocks from my apartment and I would frequent that small, cramped room for burgers and shakes on a weekly basis. It was one of the places I took the visiting out of towners because the burgers live in that happy place where you can have unconventional toppings, but don’t cross the line into gourmet. Maybe it’s the atmosphere, maybe it’s the grease, I don’t know, I’m sure it’s a combination of a lot of variables. Some how Pearl’s can get away with adding pineapple, teriyaki, and bacon, and still feel like an old school diner. They’re now located on Market St. with Super Duper near by giving them some good competition.
The only burger that I can really say is perfect is the one grilled up in someone’s backyard or in the park with good friends and beer. As a city dweller, finding the space to do this is not always an easy task. One place that can provide a very close substitute however, is Zeitgeist. They provide lots of beer, lots of out door seating and very good burgers. This is another place I take visitors to frequently because it is such a great place to start your night.