San Francisco may be best known for its gorgeous seasonal produce and plethora of plant-based dining options, but this is still a city with an affinity for a great burger. Because as much as we might love a plate of peak-season summer tomatoes or impossibly sweet Brentwood corn, sometimes the day calls for a hefty stack of double beef patties or a lacy-edged smash burger with a side of crispy tater tots. There are legendary burgers to be found at Michelin Guide-listed restaurants and iconic drive-ins with throwback pricing that will make you do a double-take. Whatever genre of burger you crave, let this map guide you to the finest specimens in town.Read More
17 Places for Stand Out Burgers in San Francisco
All the best burgers across the city’s seven hills
Causwells’s award-winning burger is a true phenomenon in the Marina. The sizable patty has been likened to a souped-up In-N-Out Double-Double, with its char-grilled patties and perfectly melted cheese. The house sauce and crispy onions are a particularly nice finish to this very messy endeavor.
Of all the burgers on the list, Sam’s is likely to be held closest to San Franciscans’ hearts. Sam’s first opened its doors in 1966 and has been serving comfort food — until the wee morning hours — ever since. This no-frills burger stars a chuck blend with cheese, lettuce, and tomato on a sesame bun. These days they’re flipping patties right off Columbus Avenue until midnight seven days a week.
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Gott’s Roadside specializes in your typical all-American-style burgers — but with a little more heft. The 1/3-pound patties are made from a proprietary blend of Niman Ranch beef, and the extra-soft egg buns are sourced from Panorama Bakery. As for the secret sauce...it's a secret. But if you want something to shake-up your burger routine, the restaurant also offers variations topped with kimchi, onion rings, and more.
Pearl’s Deluxe Burger
Pearl’s is a family-run diner, named after the owner’s grandmother, that’s been around for nearly 20 years. The burgers stack up grass-fed beef, turkey, and bison, and the “deluxe” is a serious half pound, while the “mini deluxe” is a more moderate quarter pound. The Bula burger is the crowd favorite, topped with Swiss, bacon, pineapple, and teriyaki.
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Spruce may be on the fancier side, but its burger is accessible to all at lunch or at the bar. The patty is made with a blend of brisket, short rib, and sirloin, and served on a housemade English muffin. Spruce’s fancy restaurant touches can be found throughout, like in the turmeric-pickled zucchini, the pickled red onion, the beefsteak tomato, and thrice-cooked fries that come on the side.
Red's Java House
There is no singular moment that can take the place of enjoying a sunny, windy lunch at Red’s, where time has stood still since 1955. There, the burgers (and hot dogs) are served on crusty sourdough rolls, topped with mustard, mayonnaise, pickles, and onions (no ketchup), and best enjoyed with a frosty beer. It’s particularly hopping before and after Giants games, when team spirit is at an all-time high.
Garaje's Drive-In Burger is a nostalgic, juicy classic. Served with a single or double patty, for those with particularly large appetites, this one's gone from off the radar, in terms of burger acclaim, to full-on hype.
After an extended pandemic closure, a change of ownership, and a remodel, this SoMa favorite is back — burger and all. Chef Jennifer Puccio created a meaty masterpiece using a six-ounce ground beef and lamb mix, chargrilled and topped with cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, horseradish aioli, bacon, and shredded lettuce, all on an Acme bun. The lamb adds a subtle earthiness, while the horseradish brings it all alive.
4505 Burgers & BBQ
“Burger” is right there in the name so it only makes sense that this Divisadero Street stalwart, a meaty destination known for barbecue and ample outdoor seating, knows how to do them right. The burger here means a hefty quarter-pounder topped with iceberg lettuce, onions, gruyere cheese, and secret sauce. The bun, meanwhile, gets a boost from sesame seeds and scallions.
There is perhaps no better late-night burger in San Francisco than the one at Nopa — the restaurant usually serves 29,000 a year, which is certainly proof of its popularity. This one is smokey and wood-grilled, topped with pickled onions, little gem lettuce, and cheddar cheese if you so choose.
Yes, the chicken is famous but don’t overlook the burger at this Market Street icon that’s been open for more than four decades. The recipe starts with grass-fed beef that’s well-salted and then grilled over coals before being draped in your choice of cheddar or bleu cheese (or none if that’s your preference) and layered with house-made pickles and aioli. Instead of a traditional bun, Zuni uses house-made rosemary focaccia. Shoestring potatoes (read: fries) on the side seal the deal.
Cole Valley Tavern
Cole Valley Tavern’s smash burger might cause fans of extra-thin patties to complain, but don’t let that deter you from giving it a shot. The blend of ground brisket and chuck still tastes absolutely delicious, especially when topped with caramelized onions, crisp lettuce, and zesty kimchi Thousand Island on a sweet potato bun.
ABV chef Collin Hilton created a burger masterpiece: a 1/3-pound, grass-fed beef patty with white cheddar cheese, raw red onion, shredded lettuce pickles, and a tangy special sauce, all on a Japanese sweet potato bun — and originally dubbed it the “fuckin’ burger with spicy-ass chips,” though these days it’s just called the ABV burger. Thinly sliced jalapeño chips are served on the side, for a total of $15. Bonus: The kitchen doesn’t close until midnight.
WesBurger 'n' More
Originally from Texas, Wes Rowe broke loose on the burger scene in 2013, running a wildly popular pop-up for a few years before moving into a prime spot on Mission at 18th. Then he threw out half of the menu and started mastering the art of the smash burger: thin, crispy patties on a pillowy potato bun. The single is a 3-ounce patty, inspired by the McDonald’s quarter pounder with cheese, and only costs $8.25. The double adds on shaved red onions and special sauce for $11.25.
Without getting into an existential argument about whether a burger is a sandwich and a patty melt a burger, we’ll just acknowledge that a patty melt is not the same thing as a burger. Nevertheless, True Laurel’s patty melt is a thing of beauty and well worth seeking out. A dry-aged beef patty is grilled to crispy-edged perfection before being layered with cheese, caramelized onions, and pickles, and sandwiched between two thin slices of toasted pain de mie. But here’s the kicker: that fluffy pain de mie gets griddled in beef fat, elevating this melt to decadent heights.
Hi-Way Burger & Fry
The residents of Noe Valley must have their burgers, and Hi-Way is usually hopping on the weekends. The cute corner burger shop flips a good grass-fed patty on the flat top, along with griddled hot dogs, sweet potato fries, and Straus chocolate milkshakes. A North Beach outpost debuted in spring 2022 bringing the classic menu to the other side of town.
Dating back to 1962, Beep’s is a space-age throwback. Pull up to the drive-in for the Angus-beef quarter-pound patty, with secret sauce (a mix of mayo, ketchup, paprika, and cayenne), leafy lettuce, and melted cheddar on a soft Semifreddi’s bun. Juicy, messy, hand-shaped Niman Ranch beef for only $8. The old-school burger joint is also great for crispy onion rings and Twinkie milkshakes.