Category Archives: Burgers

Excellent Burgers – Taylor’s Automatic Refresher

THE DISH: BACON CHEESEBURGER

Taylor’s Automatic refresher makes really terrific burgers. There’s probably no weekend time that they don’t have a line of 10 to 30 people waiting to get one. THey use hormone-free beef from Niman Ranch, and grill up a nicely sized portion on bakery-fresh, toasted egg buns that are soft outside and a bit crunchy inside. Their special sauce is like a healthy version of McDonald’s wickedly addictive Big Mac sauce, which works well with iceberg lettuce slivers. The good melt of cheddar cheese plus pickles and bacon, if you get it, that’s crisply cooked. I just wish they were a bit less expensive but they’re a great option when you’re walking to the Ferry Building, around the Embarcadero, or nearby.

Bacon Cheeseburger - Taylor's Automatic Refresher

Bacon Cheeseburger – Taylor’s Automatic Refresher

Taylor's Automatic Refresher SF - The Ferry Building

Taylor’s Automatic Refresher SF – The Ferry Building

THE SPOT: TAYLOR’S AUTOMATIC REFRESHER

Cool, open interior that has a 1950s Americana feeling without being dreadfully cheesy (like Mel’s Diner, ugh). Bit of a challenge at times because doors are open and flies like to buzz about the entrance. Wait staff is young, friendly, attentive.  The one downer of eating outside at Taylor’s Automatic Refresher is the uninvited, bothersome pigeon patrols. You can try to relax on the great picnic tables outside, but you might feel more like Tippi Hedren in a Hitchock film. More spikes on the ledges, Taylor’s, please.

Pigeons like Taylor's Refresher burgers just like you do

Pigeons like Taylor’s Refresher burgers just like you do

THE GRADE: EXCELLENT!

THE DAMAGE: $8.99

THE SKINNY: TAYLOR’S AUTOMATIC REFRESHER

1 Ferry Building (go to the far left of the building)
San Francisco, CA 94111

Phone: (866) 328-3663

Great Burger (Ford’s Filling Station)

Great Burger – Ford’s Filling Station

Great Burger: Ford's Filling Station, Culver City CA
Great Burger: Ford's Filling Station, Culver City CA

Pub Burger – Ford’s Filling Station – Culver City CA

Ford’s Filling Station in Culver City serves up one of the better burgers in the Los Angeles area. Made with organic Niman Ranch chuck, the beef patty is great and properly cooked to order. Ford’s ‘pub burger’ is topped with Maytag blue cheese from Maytag Farms in Iowa and is capped with a Yosemite-sized dome of caramelized onions. The Maytag blue cheese is a great topping on burgers, and the amount feels right. I like caramelized onions but the sizing here was generous;  you’ll want to scrape half the onions off to maintain the burger’s balance and taste the meat. The lettuce comes shredded, and the tomatoes are peeled, which feel like stylistic (not culinary) touches. The buns are excellent and slightly toasted inside with full flavor throughout.  

The pub burger comes with a monster pile of onion rings which are crispy and very good. (They’re a bit greasier than one would like, but still very tasty and grease-reparable with an extra napkin or two.) 

The extra red onion slice will sit, lonely and purple, since you have a plate of caramelized and fried onions…overall, a great burger, despite the onion fetish.

The Grade: Great

The Damage: $16

The Skinny: Ford’s Filling Station

9531 Culver Blvd, Culver City CA

Phone: (310) 202-1470

Website: http://www.fordsfillingstation.net

Truffle Burger

Truffle Burger

Truffle Burger, Lark Creek Steak, SF
Truffle Burger, Lark Creek Steak, SF

Burgers are prime candidates for creative culinary additions: cheeses, pickles, tomatoes, relish, aioli, sauce, condiments, and bacon (of course). Truffles are inherently additives to dishes, due to their seasonal availability, a continual scarcity that makes them cost-prohibitive as anything but a topping. 

But if you love the taste of truffles, you’ll love this truffled steakburger from Lark Creek Steak. It’s got truffled brie cheese, frisee, truffle vinaigrette, and house-made onion marmalade atop the LCS standard steakburger, my favorite burger on the West Coast. It’s not a truffle flavor overkill like some truffle-inspired dishes, but a good balance of that earthy, sexy flavor that will satisfy your truffle urges without piercing your bank account. (Well, it’s a small piercing, like a nose ring.) Another excellent burger from Chef John Ledbetter and company at Lark Creek Steak. 

Described on the menu: Perigord black truffle steakburger – 8oz – truffled brie cheese, frisee, truffle vinaigrette, caramelized onion marmalade

The Grade: Excellent

The Damage: $24.95

The Skinny: Lark Creek Steak

Westfield® San Francisco Centre
845 Market Street, 4th Floor, Ste 402
San Francisco, CA 94103

Phone: (415) 593-4100

Reservations: http://www.larkcreek.com/larkcreek_steak/index.html

Lunch:
Mon.-Fri. 11:30 am – 2:00 pm
Sat. & Sun. 12:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Dinner:
Mon.-Thurs. 5:30 pm – 9 pm
Fri. 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Sat. 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Sun. 5:00 pm – 9 pm

Lark Creek Steak on Urbanspoon

Mushroom Burger (Lark Creek Steak)

Best Mushroom Burger – Lark Creek Steak

Awesome Mushroom Burger, Lark Creek Steak
Awesome Mushroom Burger, Lark Creek Steak

My favorite mushroom burger of 2009 (to date) is Lark Creek Steak’s mushroom steakburger. Their beef preparation should be copied by others: they use an open, wood-fire grill to cook their burgers. Their top-quality ingredients are evident by taste, and they precisely cut the portions of lettuce, pickle, and onion so that they actually fit within the burger’s radius. Hearty, healthy, high-minded ingredients all make this steakburger a great one. The fat-cut fries are really good, too.

Why Lark Creek Steak’s burgers are so good: 

MEAT

  • meat is not ground chuck (typical, low-cost burger meat)
  • meat is trimmed from regular Lark Creek Steak steaks (filet mignon, New York strips, sirloin, etc.)
  • meat is double-ground, making it extremely soft and tender
  • meat is ground fresh, sometimes 3 or 4 times daily (depending upon demand)

COOKING METHOD

  • burgers are grilled over open wood fire for slightly smoked, healthier grill flavors (not over flat surface that accumulates grease and fat)

OTHER INGREDIENTS

  • button mushrooms are roasted and semi-sweet, perfect in flavor
  • quality Swiss cheese, well-melted over the burger & mushrooms
  • terrific buns; toasted on the inside slightly (so condiments don’t make bun soft inside) and served warm
  • burger accoutrements are perfectly proportioned and flavorful (butter lettuce has more flavor than typical iceberg lettuce; pickles are crisp and long-sliced to fit flat across burger;  red onion is also well-sliced and grilled to mildly caramelize flavors)

The Grade: Awesome  (highest grade)

The Damage: $14.95

The Skinny: Lark Creek Steak

Westfield® San Francisco Centre
845 Market Street, 4th Floor, Ste 402
San Francisco, CA 94103

Phone: (415) 593-4100

Reservations: http://www.larkcreek.com/larkcreek_steak/index.html

Lunch:
Mon.-Fri. 11:30 am – 2:00 pm
Sat. & Sun. 12:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Dinner:
Mon.-Thurs. 5:30 pm – 9 pm
Fri. 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Sat. 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Sun. 5:00 pm – 9 pm

Best BBQ Burger (Lark Creek Steak’s “Cowboy Burger”)

Cowboy (bacon & cheese BBQ) Burger

Best Bacon Cheeseburger: Lark Creek Steak's Cowboy Burger
Best Bacon Cheeseburger: Lark Creek Steak's Cowboy Burger

I love bacon cheeseburgers with BBQ sauce. It’s a combination of hearty flavors that seems quite natural and, while each of the flavors of bacon, BBQ sauce, sharp cheddar, and onion are individually powerful and can overwhelm any dish, within a burger context they somehow seem to play well together. When the burger is done properly, that is. Everyone and their mother has a bacon cheeseburger, but very few places make one that stands out as strongly as the cowboy burger from Lark Creek Steak.

The Best BBQ Bacon-Cheeseburger on the West Coast

Of the 40+ burgers I’ve tried in the past 6 – 8 months, the “cowboy burger” at Lark Creek Steak is far and away the best BBQ burger or the best bacon-cheeseburger of them all. So (at least for now) I can confidently proclaim Lark Creek Steak’s cowboy burger as the best bacon-cheeseburger on the West Coast. Nothing else has come close over the past year. 

Described on menu: Cowboy Steakburger (8 0z.) – bacon, cheddar, barbecue sauce, crispy onions

Cowboy Burger, detail with crispy fried onions

Cowboy Burger, detail with crispy fried onions

Why Lark Creek Steak’s burgers are so good: 

MEAT

  • meat is not ground chuck (typical, low-cost burger meat)
  • meat is trimmed from regular Lark Creek Steak steaks (filet mignon, New York strips, sirloin, etc.)
  • meat is double-ground, making it extremely soft and tender
  • meat is ground fresh, sometimes 3 or 4 times daily (depending upon demand)
  • bacon is perfectly crisp, and sustainable ranch-grown 

COOKING METHOD

  • burgers are grilled over open wood fire for slightly smoked, healthier grill flavors (not over flat surface that accumulates grease and fat)

OTHER INGREDIENTS

  • fried  onions are thin, perfectly crisp, and perfect in flavor
  • terrific buns; toasted on the inside slightly (so condiments don’t make bun soft inside) and served warm
  • burger accoutrements are perfectly proportioned and flavorful (butter lettuce has more flavor than typical iceberg lettuce; pickles are crisp and long-sliced to fit flat across burger;  red onion is also well-sliced and grilled to mildly caramelize flavors)

The Grade: Awesome / Phenomenal (highest grade)

The Damage: $15.95

The Skinny: Lark Creek Steak

Westfield® San Francisco Centre
845 Market Street, 4th Floor, Ste 402
San Francisco, CA 94103

Phone: (415) 593-4100

Reservations: http://www.larkcreek.com/larkcreek_steak/index.html

Lunch:
Mon.-Fri. 11:30 am – 2:00 pm
Sat. & Sun. 12:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Dinner:
Mon.-Thurs. 5:30 pm – 9 pm
Fri. 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Sat. 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Sun. 5:00 pm – 9 pm

Burger (Filet Burger, Frisee Restaurant, SF)

FILET (MIGNON) BURGER

THE SPOT: FRISEE RESTAURANT, SAN FRANCISCO CA

Frisee restaurant is one of those places that you discover, bring friends to, they pass it along, and so on, but it doesn’t get enough good press. So eat there now, whilst you can. The décor is lime-fresh, with a small counter in front of high windows looking out onto Market Street, and seating lined down a long banquette that feels like a groovy lounge.

But it’s not so hipster that you can’t bring your Mom to enjoy a meal there. That’s because Frisee staffs genuinely nice (but not overbearing), professional, and caring servers. Even if you’ve never been there, they make you feel like you’re coming back to a friend’s house. The staff, the food, the cool hidden gem vibe all make Frisee a great find and a great place to chow when you’ve got that burger urge.

Filet Burger with Kinnebec fries, Frisee, SF
Filet Burger with Kinnebec fries, Frisee, SF

THE DISH: FILET BURGER

So we’ve been on a steady burger diet, for the benefit of the people and Mr. Kite, and among San Francisco’s burger purveyors, we’ve got to rank Frisee among the top (so far). One thing that makes Frisee’s burger more enticing from the get-go is its plush menu vocabulary. To wit: All-natural (hormone-free, antibiotic-free), grass-fed, filet mignon hamburger.

Be still my bloody heart.

But there’s more. Point Reyes blue cheese, toasted red onion, tomato relish, butter lettuce, Dijon mustard and mayo on an onion roll. Wow…seriously?

Plus, it comes with crisp, Kennebec fries topped with a balsamic drizzle. Compare the Filet Burger @ Frisee by price and value to other burgs in town, and you’d be hard pressed to eat burgers anywhere else in SF. (Prove me wrong.)

The Filet Burger is available during brunch, lunch, or dinner.

THE GRADE: AWESOME (5 out of 5)

THE DAMAGE: $14 lunch; $15 dinner

THE SKINNY: FRISEE RESTAURANT

2367 Market Street, San Francisco CA

Phone: 415-568-1616

Menus: http://www.friseerestaurant.com/Menu/menu.html

Hours: Mon – Fri Dinner only 5:30pm to 10:00pm

Sat & Sunday Brunch 10:30am to 3:00pm

Sat Dinner 5:30 to 11:00; Sun Dinner 5:30 to 9:00

Frisee Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Burger (“The Burger” at Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant, Big Sur CA)

BURGER (“THE” BURGER)

 

"The Burger" at Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant, Big Sur, CA

THE DISH: “THE” BURGER

When you spend a full page on your website glorifying your burger and you call your burger “The Burger,” you had better deliver something beyond special. Hungry burger lovers are licking lips in anticipation, in a literal way. Despite the great environment, a house-made bun, and 8 ounces of Niman Ranch beef, “The Burger” just doesn’t deliver. (Especially for the high price which, for now, I’ve conveniently forgotten). The condiments, the toppings (typical white onion, tomato, lettuce, pickle), even the fries, meh…

I encourage the great folks at Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant to revise the recipe, up the ante, confound the condiments, shock the vegetables, bustle the hedgerow, whatever it takes to step this up to its reputation. Because every other dish I ate at Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant was rocking. Every one but “The Burger.”

Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant, Big Sur CA
Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant, Big Sur CA

THE SPOT: BIG SUR BAKERY & RESTAURANT, BIG SUR CA

To say I love this restaurant is an understatement; it’s a wonderful, warm place to dine in Big Sur, the chefs are conscious and caring, and the food, on the whole, is great. You know, the burger was OK but at the price, it should be awesome.

THE GRADE: DISAPPOINTING (0 out of 5) 

THE DAMAGE:Expensive for a burger that you will not fall in love with

THE SKINNY: BIG SUR BAKERY & RESTAURANT

Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920

Phone: (831) 667-0520

Website: http://www.bigsurbakery.com/

Brunch, Saturday & Sunday, 10:30 am to 2:45 pm

Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant on Urbanspoon