Looking at this photo takes me way back. Well, back to 2009, and my second visit to Hodad’s. A few days earlier, I had my mind blown by my first-ever Hodad’s cheeseburger and was already craving another fix. I was visiting San Diego to see my first love, over a decade after we connected on IRC as angst-filled suburban teenagers (and then reconnected on Facebook as mostly responsible adults).
This relatively new restaurant in the heart of Hillcrest has a screaming lunch deal: a burger, drink, and house-made chips for $5.
Aussie-style burgers with “the lot” (i.e.: pickled beets, cheese, pineapple, a fried egg, aioli, and smoky tomato chutney) can be yours at three restaurants in San Diego (all of which share the same owners): Queenstown Public House in Little Italy, Bareback Grill in Pacific Beach, and Raglan Public House in Ocean Beach. Check out my review on AHT for a closer look at this magical mess of a burger.
The bacon cheeseburger at the Marriott Marquis and Marina (downtown, beside the Convention Center) won’t change your life, but spending an hour sitting among towering palm trees and looking out on the sparkling pool just might. There’s also churros.
This stylish new spot in the Gaslamp Quarter serves an awesome upscale burger that’s totally worth the investment at full price ($14, including fries), but if you go during lunchtime, you can order it as a prix-fixe “power lunch” with an appetizer and a Bellini for $20. I think you know what to do.
Seafood restaurants don’t need to have a burger on their menu (let alone put extra effort into making it better than average), but the ones that do have a special place in my fish-averse heart. Spike Africa’s is one of those places.
Salt & Cleaver’s ribeye sausage burger is intense, unusual, and damn delicious. It’s made with the same filling that goes into the ribeye sausages, minus the casing: ground ribeye, puréed roasted onion and fennel, black pepper, chipotle, Worcestershire sauce, and pork fat for extra flavor.
This BLT/burger collision comes stacked with six slices of crisp, salty bacon under a half-pound beef patty, with sliced tomato, crisp lettuce, and mayo on toasted sourdough bread.
The hache burger, a Monday-only special from Cafe Chloe, deserves to be at the top of your to-eat list. Made with the same sirloin steak as the steak tartare, it’s robust and aggressively beefy.
Bub’s doesn’t make mind-blowing, destination-worthy burgers, but for the price, the all-brisket cheeseburger is a great deal. If you’re looking for a TV-plastered, sports bar steps from Petco Park with good grub, you really can’t do much better.