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17 Standout Burgers in San Francisco

From the crispiest smashed patties to the most decadent wagyu beef, don’t miss these burgers

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Is there a food as beloved as the hamburger? It's a great American pastime, a symbol of summer barbecues, and all-around icon of fun. San Francisco loves a good burger just as much as the next city, and chefs around town have spent considerable time and effort on stacking up the most crave-able versions possible, resulting in a constellation of star burgers that reflect the tastes of our fair city by the bay.

From humble quarter pounders with just the pickles to wagyu and bison patties, this list covers it all. Here are the juiciest, crispiest burgers in San Francisco.

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A burger for breakfast? Sure, why not? That’s a more-than-respectable breakfast choice at Abaca, the modern Filipino restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf where the brunch menu includes an excellent chorizo burger. It’s a hefty, smoky sausage patty stacked with tender leaf lettuce, tomato, and a layer of garlic aioli. If that’s not tempting enough, we’ll note that it’s all smashed between a Dutch crunch pandesal bun and served alongside thick batons of fried potatoes.

An overhead view of a burger on a black-and-white table top. Lauren Saria

Causwells

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Causwells’ 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.

Maybeck's

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The Marina already lays claim to a number of San Francisco’s most beloved burgers, but a new contender has officially entered the fray. Maybeck’s made its return earlier this year, with a boost from the husband-and-wife culinary team behind the now-closed Baker & Banker. The menu now includes a solid smashburger, served on a squishy potato bun. It’s a double-stacked patty shrouded in melted American cheese and dressed with thinly sliced onions, pickle coins, and special sauce.  

A burger with fries, aioli, and ketchup. Lauren Saria

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 up comfort food — until the wee morning hours — ever since. It's a chuck blend with cheese, lettuce, and tomato on a sesame bun. These days they’re flipping patties until midnight seven days a week.

A burger on a white paper plate. Lauren Saria

Gott’s Roadside

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Gott’s Roadside burger is your typical all-American-style patty, but with a little more heft. These 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.

Gott’s via Gott’s

Pearl’s Deluxe Burger

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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.

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 proprietary blend of brisket, short rib, and sirloin, and served on a housemade English muffin. Spruce touches can be seen throughout, like in the turmeric-pickled zucchini, the pickled red onion, beefsteak tomato, and thrice-cooked fries that come on the side.

The Spruce burger Spruce

Red's Java House

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There is no other 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 hefty sourdough rolls, topped with mustard, mayonnaise, pickles, and onions (no ketchup), and best enjoyed with a frosty Anchor Steam. It’s particularly hopping before and after a Giants game, when team spirit is at an all-time high.

A burger with fries, onion rings, and a beer. Lauren Saria

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, so get after it quick.

Marlowe

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After an extended pandemic closure and following a change of ownership and fresh 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.

The newly refreshed bar at Marlowe. Photos courtesy Drew Altizer Photography

Automat

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Pickle lovers, stand up. It would be easy to assume the Cheezy Buddy at Automat is just another solid smash but the goodness is in the details here including tart dill-pickled onions, garlicky melted cheddar cheese, and an airy milk bread bun baked fresh on-site. Don’t sleep on the fries either; they’re tinged green with a dusting of pleasantly pungent dill pickle flavoring. 

A burger with fries and a side of sauce. Lauren Saria

There is no better late-night burger than the one at Nopa — the restaurant usually serves 29,000 a year, which is certainly proof. This one is wood-grilled and comes with pickled onions, little gem lettuce, and cheddar cheese if you so choose. It's the perfect barstool meal.

Originally called the "fuckin’ burger with spicy-ass chips," ABV chef Collin Hilton created 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. Thinly-sliced jalapeño chips are served on the side, for a total of $15.

WesBurger 'n' More

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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. Last year, 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. The double adds on shaved red onions and special sauce for $11.

Smashburger from Wesburger Wes Rowe

True Laurel

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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 when you’re craving a meaty meal. A dry-aged beef patty is grilled to crispy-edged perfection before being layered with cheese, caramelized onions, pickles, and sandwiched between two thin slices of pain de mie. But here’s the kicker: that fluffy pain de mie gets griddled in beef fat, elevating this melt to decadent heights. 

Patty melt at True Laurel Lauren Saria

Hi-Way Burger & Fry

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The small children and tech millionaires of Noe Valley must have their burgers, and Hi-Way is usually hopping on the weekends (Friday night at 5 p.m. gets wild). 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 milk shakes. A North Beach outpost debuted in spring 2022 bringing the classic menu to the other side of town.

Burger and fries at Hi-Way Caleb Pershan

Beep's Burgers

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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.

Patricia Chang

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Abacá

An overhead view of a burger on a black-and-white table top. Lauren Saria

A burger for breakfast? Sure, why not? That’s a more-than-respectable breakfast choice at Abaca, the modern Filipino restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf where the brunch menu includes an excellent chorizo burger. It’s a hefty, smoky sausage patty stacked with tender leaf lettuce, tomato, and a layer of garlic aioli. If that’s not tempting enough, we’ll note that it’s all smashed between a Dutch crunch pandesal bun and served alongside thick batons of fried potatoes.

An overhead view of a burger on a black-and-white table top. Lauren Saria

Causwells

Causwells’ 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.

Maybeck's

A burger with fries, aioli, and ketchup. Lauren Saria

The Marina already lays claim to a number of San Francisco’s most beloved burgers, but a new contender has officially entered the fray. Maybeck’s made its return earlier this year, with a boost from the husband-and-wife culinary team behind the now-closed Baker & Banker. The menu now includes a solid smashburger, served on a squishy potato bun. It’s a double-stacked patty shrouded in melted American cheese and dressed with thinly sliced onions, pickle coins, and special sauce.  

A burger with fries, aioli, and ketchup. Lauren Saria

Sam's

A burger on a white paper plate. Lauren Saria

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 up comfort food — until the wee morning hours — ever since. It's a chuck blend with cheese, lettuce, and tomato on a sesame bun. These days they’re flipping patties until midnight seven days a week.

A burger on a white paper plate. Lauren Saria

Gott’s Roadside

Gott’s via Gott’s

Gott’s Roadside burger is your typical all-American-style patty, but with a little more heft. These 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.

Gott’s via Gott’s

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.

Spruce

The Spruce burger Spruce

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 proprietary blend of brisket, short rib, and sirloin, and served on a housemade English muffin. Spruce touches can be seen throughout, like in the turmeric-pickled zucchini, the pickled red onion, beefsteak tomato, and thrice-cooked fries that come on the side.

The Spruce burger Spruce

Red's Java House

A burger with fries, onion rings, and a beer. Lauren Saria

There is no other 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 hefty sourdough rolls, topped with mustard, mayonnaise, pickles, and onions (no ketchup), and best enjoyed with a frosty Anchor Steam. It’s particularly hopping before and after a Giants game, when team spirit is at an all-time high.

A burger with fries, onion rings, and a beer. Lauren Saria

Garaje

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, so get after it quick.

Marlowe

The newly refreshed bar at Marlowe. Photos courtesy Drew Altizer Photography

After an extended pandemic closure and following a change of ownership and fresh 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.

The newly refreshed bar at Marlowe. Photos courtesy Drew Altizer Photography

Automat

A burger with fries and a side of sauce. Lauren Saria

Pickle lovers, stand up. It would be easy to assume the Cheezy Buddy at Automat is just another solid smash but the goodness is in the details here including tart dill-pickled onions, garlicky melted cheddar cheese, and an airy milk bread bun baked fresh on-site. Don’t sleep on the fries either; they’re tinged green with a dusting of pleasantly pungent dill pickle flavoring.