You don’t have to travel very far to find a great burger in the East Bay — though “great,” of course, is in the eye of the beholder. From East Bay neighborhood spots to the trendy areas in Oakland and Berkeley, you can find all kinds — classic diner burgers that’ll fill you up for around $7, smash burgers that eschew maximal juiciness to offer the greatest amount of crunch, and classic burgers from pedigreed chefs. There’s even a game-changing veggie burger or two. All of them have their charms.Read More
18 Top-Notch Burgers in the East Bay
Where to go when you’re craving a juicy beef patty or two
Phila Burger Station
This little diner-style burger joint in Richmond’s 23rd Street corridor specializes in two things: solid, simply dressed burgers and (also quite excellent) cheesesteaks, all dished out with some of the friendliest service in the East Bay.
Also featured in:
How you feel about 310 Eatery depends in part on how you feel about monstrously tall extreme burgers — one outrageously decadent ingredient stacked on top of another, and then another. The popular Albany brunch and burger spot specializes in “Los Angeles–style” street food, with a dash of Asian dishes in the mix as well. Even if you aren’t into burgers that come overloaded with dozens of toppings (we see you 405 Traffic Jam, with your bacon-short rib patty, portobello mushroom, crispy onions, and pastrami), the more “standard” burgers are also excellent — especially 310’s Street Burger, which comes smothered in bacon jam.
As its name indicates, the “Good Burger” is quite good — a classic with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheddar, aioli, and burger sauce — a little like the well-charred burger you might get off someone’s backyard grill. But the Mexi Cali burger might be even better, subbing in avocado, pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, and elote crema to create a spicy, drippy delight. Eat it with a local beer and a side of crinkle-cut fries.
Simple, juicy patties — made in the crisp-edged “smash burger” style — are the draw at this fast-food style Oakland mini-chain, which has already become a local institution since its first location (on Grand Avenue) opened in 2010. The milkshakes are excellent, and so are the ballpark-style garlic fries.
Clove And Hoof
This restaurant is also a butcher shop, meaning that every meaty morsel that comes out of the kitchen was processed in house, often from whole animals. If you’re looking for a slightly fancier, cheffy burger that’s still deeply satisfying, the C&H Cheeseburger is tough to beat: It’s two four-ounce patties with caramelized onion jam, pimento cheese, romaine lettuce, bread and butter pickles, and pickle mayo on a sesame seed brioche bun. Add beef tallow fries, and it’s game on.
Also featured in:
Perle Wine Bar
At his Montclair wine bar, chef Rob Lam serves an umami-packed mashup of a burger. Dubbed the French Onion Dip Angus Burger, it stars a thick charred patty, havarti, jammy onions, and a toasted milk bun. It’s a great burger on its own, but then you dip it — French dip style — in a side of French onion soup for even more flavor.
The former food truck is known for serving some of the most decadent-looking veggie burgers you can find in the East Bay — no timid little sprout-topped bean patties here. Instead, Malibu’s offers original plant-based creations like the Ghost Town Burger (two Impossible patties, American “cheese,” onion rings, lettuce, tomato, and BBQ sauce).
It’s an unobvious spot for a stellar burger, given that Occitania is located inside the Kissel Uptown Oakland hotel, but the French Burger a la Cafe Midi is one to chase. The burger is a recreation of a childhood favorite of chef Paul Canales from his hometown of Fresno, and it was so good that the chef sought to recreate it at his own spot in Oakland. The trick to making it? Gruyere, mushrooms, and caramelized onions that push the burger to the next level.
After a stint at the Lodge in Oakland, this East Bay pop-up has landed in its new home at Two Pitchers Brewing Company, sharing an outdoor patio made perfectly for a burger and a brew. The burgers all feature Stemple Creek beef, and the tried and true Original Fried Onion burger is the way to go if you’re looking for a more classic burger, but if you’re in the mood, the Chili Willy comes with, well, chili, along with onions and a pickled jalapeno, perfect after a day of day drinking beers.
This popular beer garden is an Oakland institution by this point, known for its lively outdoor patio, its boozy slushies, and, not for nothing, its nicely charred burgers and sausage sandwiches. Those looking for a particularly decadent burger experience can opt for the “5150,” which has a patty that’s half beef, half ground-up bacon. Even vegetarians have multiple — well, two — burger options: an Impossible burger and one featuring a chipotle black bean patty.
The hamburger is always a staple at this Lake Merritt cocktail destination. It succeeds in its simplicity: a beefy Niman Ranch patty (cooked to your desired level of doneness), lettuce, and pickles on a soft bun slathered with chipotle-spiked Thousand Island dressing. Well-seasoned and well-executed, it comes with a side of fries or salad and needs nothing else.
Also featured in:
Park Burger serves a variety of beef burgers topped with everything from bacon, cheddar, and cheese to fried shallots and chili. The lamb burger is also an excellent choice, covered with in-house tzatziki sauce, and arugula. Vegetarians can get in on the action here too, with black bean patties, Impossible patties, or a fried portobello in place of meat.
This tiki-inspired bar’s burger is the perfect accompaniment to a bucket of rum or two. The burger features two Cream Co. beef patties with pineapple-Maui onion jam, American cheese, Kewpie mayo, and pickles on a potato roll. Don’t forget to add crispy Spam on top.
Even as this Jack London restaurant’s menu has evolved over the years, its classic burger has largely stayed the same. In its current incarnation, a Cream Co. beef patty comes topped with bacon, tomato, and garlic aioli. If you’re feeling really sassy, there are options to add Fiscalini cheddar, Pt. Reyes blue cheese, or cowboy onions.
Also featured in:
Smish Smash at Neptune's
One of the East Bay’s most exciting new pop-ups, Smish Smash is one Los Angeles transplant’s take on the “smash burger” trend — the style of burger in which balls of raw beef are flattened on the griddle with the goal of creating the maximum amount of well-charred, crispy bits. The Bay Area has plenty of smash burger specialists, but perhaps none smashing their patties quite as thin and crispy as Smish Smash — nor with topping combinations as novel as, say, a burger topped with uni and shiso leaves, or another flavored like McDonald’s elusive McRib. Every burger comes on a toasted Martin’s potato roll. Check ahead via the Smish Smash Instagram to see their latest pop-up hours.
One of a very small number of solid dining options located in close proximity to the Oakland airport, this family-run spot is known for its very hefty and juicy burgers — the double is a real whopper of a meal — and its garlic fries. Not in the mood for a burger? The teriyaki plates are a crowd favorite as well.
This Hayward institution serves the Platonic ideal of an old-school diner burger — just beautifully charred meat on a bun, served without fuss or adornment, apart from maybe some relish or grilled onions. Get it with a malt on the side. Don’t forget to bring cash.
As its name suggests, this family-owned strip mall burger joint in San Lorenzo, tucked between a dental office and a tax-preparation operation, sticks to the classics: just simple, well-executed, inexpensive burgers. The loftiest item on the item is probably also the most popular: the signature Classic Burger, which comes topped with pastrami and cheese.