Tag Archives: Burgers

Excellent Burgers – Taylor’s Automatic Refresher


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


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




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

Phone: (866) 328-3663


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 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 


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


  • 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

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

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)



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


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


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)



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


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


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


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

Burger (The Famous Ambrosiaburger, Nepenthe, Big Sur CA)

The Vibe: Nepenthe is the legendary Big Sur dining spot with a vast view, family-owned since 1949. There’s a large outdoor patio in front, a smaller patio in back that faces the ocean (through many tall trees), and indoor seating with tall wooden beams above, a semi-circular bar to the right, and an old fireplace to the left. It’s a neat little place that exemplifies the Big Sur energy, homey and pioneering and funky and cool.

What most people don’t know is that Nepenthe’s got an incredible wine list, so it’s a great place to go for a salad or burger or sandwich paired with a really top-flight bottle of wine. You’re on vacation; why not?

The AmbosiaBurger at Nepenthe, Big Sur, CA
The AmbosiaBurger at Nepenthe, Big Sur, CA

The DIsh: “The Famous Ambrosiaburger” (with Cheddar Cheese)

Despite the fact that Nepenthe undercooks their burgers on purpose—and you may be too hungry to care to send it back—the flavor and juiciness of this burger makes it really a delight. If you visit, be kind and mindful and remind your waiter you really do want it medium or medium-well instead of waiting for it coming back a bit bloody, no matter what level of grill time you request. The meat’s great and it comes on a great bun with great sauce (the ambrosia, which is like a home-style thousand island dressing). But there’s something more: a charcoal or dirty grill flavor to the burger that reminds you of being a kid, having a home-cooked burger, that makes their burger really flavorful and enjoyable. The immense, relaxing, and romantic environment probably have an affect on the senses as well, turning a hungry memory into something larger than it should be. But good meals are like that.

The beef is actually chopped steak, and the slightly sweet French roll is fantastic, with gooey cheddar pulling it all together. It’s one of the best burgers I ate in 2008.

The homemade slaw was somewhat bland and disappointing, so I recommend you opt for another side selection. The service can be slow, but if you’re down in Big Sur, you should start slowing down, too. Be sure to review the wine list! You’ll be as gaga as Wine Spectator was over it.

The Grade: Excellent / Exceptional (4 out of 5)

The Damage: $13.50 (yikes…oh yeah, chopped steak), plus $1.50 for cheese (a must)

The Skinny: Nepenthe Restaurant

Highway 1, Big Sur CA 94920

Phone: (831) 667-2345

Website: http://www.nepenthebigsur.com/

Serving lunch and dinner, 11:30 am to 10:00 pm daily

Nepenthe on Urbanspoon

Burger (Burger Meister, San Francisco CA)

The Dish: Mushroom & Onion Burger

The “Meisterburgers” begin with great meat, and a substantial amount of it: half a pound of Niman Ranch beef. (If you prefer turkey, they have 1/3 pound turkey burgers as an option.) Your burger comes paired with a generous topping pile: a flag of green lettuce, blushing tomato slice, red onion, and crisp pickles. You also get a choice of coleslaw, salad mix, or fries. While the slaw was decent, I’d recommend the salad or the fries instead. I’d bolster up with some cheese (cheddar, Monterey Jack, pepper jack, Swiss, or blue cheese) for just 0.75 more.

Mushroom & Onion Burger, BurgerMeister, SF
Mushroom & Onion Burger, BurgerMeister, SF

Since burgers at Burger Meister are totally customizable, I was tempted to add some blue cheese to my mushroom & onion burger. It was a very good burger, bordering on great. But because Burger Meister provides free toppings that include red onion (not grilled), I felt that ordering a burger with onion was redundant. My poor big, free red onion sat alone and uneaten, whilst the grilled red onion got all my love and attention. Ugh, guilt over onions.

So next time, I’ll opt for another burger and leverage the onions that came to the dance.

One more note about sauciness and customization: everyone likes to make a burger to their taste, and at BurgerMeister, every counter and table has a cardboard beer bottle holder with six bottles of hot sauces, steak sauces, and condiments ready for the spillage. BurgerMeister is actually that place where you can have it–it being a memorable burger–your way. Kudos to that.

The Grade: Very Good (2 out of 5) (Other burgers would probably merit higher grades, but those will be judged individually)

The Damage: $8.75; Add 0.75 for your choice of cheese

The Spot: Burger Meister is a Bay Area favorite, for good reason. They make a pretty mean burger. From this basic American mouth-melter, they’ve built a small chain of five chop-beef-shops. This review is of the little Burger Meister in the Castro, on Church Street.

Burger Meister and Punk, San Francisco
Burger Meister and Punk, San Francisco

The Skinny: Burger Meister, Bay Area (5 Locations)

138 Church Street, SF CA 94114

11 am to 11 pm, 7 days a week

Website: http://www.burgermeistersf.com/

Burger list: http://www.burgermeistersf.com/menu.php

Burgermeister on Urbanspoon

Burger (Kobe Beef Burger, Alice’s Restaurant, Woodside, CA)



We happened across Alice’s Restaurant by accident, en route to the lighthouse out at Pigeon Point. The place, made famous by the eponymous Arlo Guthrie song, is an old wooden roadhouse at a crossroads, where Highways 84 and 35 meet. On sunny California days, it’s a nice place to grab some grub on the outdoor deck, and it’s got live music Thursday nights starting at 7pm.


Alice's Restaurant, made famous by Woodie Guthrie



Alice’s Restaurant has 19 burgers, typically built with a third-pound of sirloin and your typical lettuce, tomato, onion, and mayo. Alice’s burger combos are named after motorcycle makers: BMW, Moto Guzzi, Harley, Indian, etc.

Coming in hungry, I opted for the Kobe Beef Burger, made with a full half-pound of Japanese Kobe Beef. While it was very good, it doesn’t warrant Alice’s Restaurant’s propitious claim that it’s “home to the best specialty burgers in the world.” A burger, after all, is not just about great meat…

Perhaps some of the other burger options would make a better grade, like the Indian (bacon, grilled onions, and Swiss cheese) or the Jalopy burger (BBQ sauce, grilled onions, and jack cheese).

Burger list: http://www.alicesrestaurant.com/index-2_Burgers.html

Detailed Menu: http://www.alicesrestaurant.com/PDF/AliceDay.pdf

THE GRADE: GREAT (3 out of 5)

THE DAMAGE: $10.95 (most of the other burgers are either $8.50 or $8.95; you can upgrade any burger to Kobe Beef for $3.50)


17288 Skyline Blvd
, Woodside CA 94062

Telephone:  (650) 851 0303

Website: www.alicesrestaurant.com