clock menu more-arrow no yes

San Francisco's 9 Best Old-School Burger Joints

Where to go when you want a classic burger on the cheap.

View as Map

With locally-sourced, high-end burger chains proliferating across San Francisco, you could be forgiven for assuming that the city had no old-school burger joints left. But when you're looking for a simple burger without frills or pretense, these 9 icons, some of which date as far back as the '50s, will fill the bill without costing a lot of bills.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Beep's Burgers

Copy Link
1051 Ocean Ave
San Francisco, CA 94112
(415) 584-2650
Out in Ingleside, this little stand has been serving up burgers since 1962, with picnic tables in the parking lot for hanging out with a cheeseburger and one of their beloved pineapple shakes.

2. Bill's Place

Copy Link
2315 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 221-5262
Visit Website
A Richmond staple for 55 years, this "Home of the Hamburger" is light on the frills (beyond two bizarrely placed crystal chandeliers), but delivers on flavor. All of its burgers are named for San Francisco celebrities, and the meat is ground in-house daily.

3. Bullshead Restaurant

Copy Link
840 Ulloa St
San Francisco, CA 94127
(415) 665-4350
Visit Website
Since 1979, this West Portal spot has devoted itself to serving up bison steaks and bison burgers, and it has a loyal following of neighborhood regulars as a result. If it's been a while since you went to a restaurant with a salad bar and a glass meat display, go give it a spin.

4. Hamburger Haven

Copy Link
800 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 387-3260
This old-school diner has been holding it down on Clement since 1968 with its green vinyl booths and inexpensive menu. The late Robin Williams was a fan, and photos of him with customers are all over the walls.

5. Mo's Grill

Copy Link
1322 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 788-3779
Visit Website
A North Beach favorite, Mo's grinds its beef fresh daily and grills it over a bizarre rotating contraption made of volcanic rock. It totally works, though: the burgers here are juicy and delicious.

6. Red's Java House

Copy Link
551 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 777-5626
Visit Website
There's nothing quite like a burger and a beer at this outdoor spot on the Embarcadero (since 1955), preferably consumed before heading over to the ballpark for a Giants game. It's not to be confused with the similar, equally historic Java House, which is also worth a visit.

7. Sam's

Copy Link
618 Broadway
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 391-1539
North Beach drinkers turn to this glorious dive for booze relief, with old-fashioned burgers and fries served up on paper plates for crazy-reasonable prices. Atmosphere is nil and the specter of drunk shenanigans looms large, but it's the kind of place where those things are less important than sustenance.

8. Tony's Cable Car

Copy Link
2500 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 931-2416
Visit Website
Lebanese immigrant Tony Falloun has been serving burgers since 1972 at this little spot atop the Geary-Masonic tunnel, where the simple, fast-food-style patties and crinkle-cut fries have drawn generations of fans.

9. Whiz Burgers

Copy Link
700 S Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 824-5888
Visit Website
This adorable little stand (since 1955) has somehow survived wave after wave of Mission gentrification, and is still a go-to for simple burgers and shakes to wolf down at the parking-lot picnic tables or on a barstool at a nearby dive.

1. Beep's Burgers

1051 Ocean Ave, San Francisco, CA 94112
Out in Ingleside, this little stand has been serving up burgers since 1962, with picnic tables in the parking lot for hanging out with a cheeseburger and one of their beloved pineapple shakes.
1051 Ocean Ave
San Francisco, CA 94112

2. Bill's Place

2315 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121
A Richmond staple for 55 years, this "Home of the Hamburger" is light on the frills (beyond two bizarrely placed crystal chandeliers), but delivers on flavor. All of its burgers are named for San Francisco celebrities, and the meat is ground in-house daily.
2315 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94121

3. Bullshead Restaurant

840 Ulloa St, San Francisco, CA 94127
Since 1979, this West Portal spot has devoted itself to serving up bison steaks and bison burgers, and it has a loyal following of neighborhood regulars as a result. If it's been a while since you went to a restaurant with a salad bar and a glass meat display, go give it a spin.
840 Ulloa St
San Francisco, CA 94127

4. Hamburger Haven

800 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118
This old-school diner has been holding it down on Clement since 1968 with its green vinyl booths and inexpensive menu. The late Robin Williams was a fan, and photos of him with customers are all over the walls.
800 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94118

5. Mo's Grill

1322 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
A North Beach favorite, Mo's grinds its beef fresh daily and grills it over a bizarre rotating contraption made of volcanic rock. It totally works, though: the burgers here are juicy and delicious.
1322 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

6. Red's Java House

551 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105
There's nothing quite like a burger and a beer at this outdoor spot on the Embarcadero (since 1955), preferably consumed before heading over to the ballpark for a Giants game. It's not to be confused with the similar, equally historic Java House, which is also worth a visit.
551 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105

7. Sam's

618 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133
North Beach drinkers turn to this glorious dive for booze relief, with old-fashioned burgers and fries served up on paper plates for crazy-reasonable prices. Atmosphere is nil and the specter of drunk shenanigans looms large, but it's the kind of place where those things are less important than sustenance.
618 Broadway
San Francisco, CA 94133

8. Tony's Cable Car

2500 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94115
Lebanese immigrant Tony Falloun has been serving burgers since 1972 at this little spot atop the Geary-Masonic tunnel, where the simple, fast-food-style patties and crinkle-cut fries have drawn generations of fans.
2500 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94115

9. Whiz Burgers

700 S Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110
This adorable little stand (since 1955) has somehow survived wave after wave of Mission gentrification, and is still a go-to for simple burgers and shakes to wolf down at the parking-lot picnic tables or on a barstool at a nearby dive.
700 S Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94110

Related Maps