Food & Drink

San Diego's 7 Best Under-the-Radar Burgers

Published On 04/16/2014 Published On 04/16/2014
Under the radar burgers SD
Sara Norris

Ask anybody in San Diego where to get the tastiest burgers in town and they will probably be startlingly attractive, but that doesn't mean they won't be able to rattle off all the go-to local favorites like Slater’s 50/50, Bareback, Hodad’s, Rocky’s, etc. But what about those hidden gems that aren't on everyone's "best burger" list? Because you can never have too many great burgers in your repertoire, here are seven you've probably been missing out on.

Sara Norris

The Texas Burger

BABS (address and info)
Kearny Mesa
The last thing you’d expect to find amongst the Korean BBQ and noodle shops on Convoy Street is a burger joint -- much less one that's reliably turning out some of the best burgers in the city. The Texas Burger is stuffed with oozing cheddar cheese (as are all of their burgers), then stacked high with bacon, LTO, and onion rings, along with a liberal (not like, politically) layer of BBQ sauce.

Sara Norris

Flying Cheeseburger

Doods Foods (address and info
Banker's Hill
If you’re into live music and plenty of cold canned beer, then you should definitely be hanging out at the Tin Can Ale House -- but if that’s not reason enough for you, try the Flying Cheeseburger from Doods Foods, stacked with double meat, double cheese, double bacon, lettuce, tomato, and chipotle buttermilk sauce. It'll turn you into a regular -- at Tin Can and at your cardiologist.

Sara Norris

Le Beast! Burger

Beaumont’s (address and info)
La Jolla
Chef George Morris’s Le Beast! Burger more than lives up to its name (even the exclamation point). The 1/2lb patty is a blend of wild boar, elk, and bison covered in melted Cambozola, smoked green chili marmalade, and beer-battered onion rings, all tucked in the middle of a pretzel bun. This bad boy checks in at $18.50. It's worth it.

Sara Norris

Twist Burger

Twist Sandwiches & More (address and info)
North Park
Open since last Fall, Twist's already holding its own against the best beef in the city. They killed it during Burger Week, and customers keep coming back for more. This Twist Burger is unsurprisingly a favorite, topped with goat cheese, prosciutto, arugula, Twist sauce, balsamic syrup, and onions caramelized in Coke.

Sara Norris

Burger Special

Soda & Swine (address and info)
North Park
While they might be known for their meatball-focused menu, Soda & Swine also has some standout impressive burgers. They’ve taken The Bovine to the next level by turning it into a meatball hamburger patty and topping it with fried jalapeños, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and chipotle mayo to make their Burger Special -- don’t let the name fool you, it's on the menu to stay.


​WNL Burger

Whisknladle (address and info)
La Jolla
Whoever said a burger isn't a breakfast food obviously never tried Whisknladle’s burger with caramelized onions, applewood bacon, Gruyere, romaine, and tomato layered on a patty and topped with a fried egg; making it acceptable fare pretty much any time of day. Though if you want to eat any of these other burgers for breakfast, no one should stop you.

Kevin Andrew Falk

The Moroccan Spiced Lamb Burger

Great Maple (address and info)
Newport Beach
It's not all that surprising that a restaurant from the Hash House people would serve a standout hamburger -- or lamb burger, for that matter. The North African spices provide a welcome kick that plays tastily with a shmear of creamy, tangy goat cheese. It wouldn't hurt you to give the poor cows a break once in a while, right?

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1. BABS 4646 Convoy St, San Diego, CA 92111 (Kearny Mesa)

BABS, or Bao's Awesome Burgers & Sandwiches, sits among a bunch of Korean BBQ and noodle shops on Convoy, but inside are some of the best burgers in the city (and inside those burgers is a bunch of cheddar cheese!). Try the Texas Burger, covered in BBQ sauce and stacked high with bacon, LTO, and onion rings.

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2. Doods Foods 1863 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92101

While delivering White Russians is still outlawed in Cali, the Doods are now delivering Bankers Hill a weekly rotating menu ranging from the Dood Burger with special “Doods sauce” to a fried egg/ cheese/ french fry-loaded roll called The Short Bus, which apparently “dates back 70 years” to a time when riding it meant... you enjoy delicious sandwiches!

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3. Beaumont's 5662 La Jolla Blvd, La Jolla, CA 92037 (La Jolla)

Beaumont’s is a Bird Rock gathering place with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus live music and a full bar. This versatile venue buzzes incessantly with locals here for the modern comfort food and warm ambience. Expect fusion iterations of American diner food like carne asada eggs Benedict with avocado and cilantro Hollandaise; a house burger loaded with sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic glazed onions, feta, and basil aioli; and wedge salad with fried chicken, bacon, and blue cheese. Cocktails are varied but familiar in flavor too, like the Narcissist with rye, ginger, and honey.

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4. Twist Sandwiches & More 2041 University Ave, San Diego, CA 92104 (North Park)

Twist has delicious fries, savory sandwiches, and huge wings -- but you're obviously there for the burgers. The namesake burger is topped with goat cheese, prosciutto, arugula, Twist sauce, balsamic syrup, and onions caramelized in Coke.

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5. Soda & Swine 2943 Adams Ave, North Park, CA 92116 (North Park)

Soda & Swine does meatballs in a way that you might not expect, assuming that the word "meatball" conjures up images of spaghetti all covered with cheese. Sure, they've got spaghetti and meatballs too, but this place gives you the ability to choose your mix and match your meat, creating anything from a meatball slider to meatballs a la carte. There's a wild bevy of sodas to choose from as well, so there's really no excuse for you to be anywhere other than here.

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6. Whisknladle 1044 Wall St, La Jolla, CA 92037 (La Jolla)

Built around the need for a restaurant using farm-fresh ingredients and cooking from scratch, Whisknladle delivers delicious apps and entrees alongside a creative cocktail list.

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7. Great Maple 1451 Washington St, San Diego, CA 92103 (University Heights)

Not just a common compliment among syrup makers, Great Maple's a fancied-up '60s diner with a bit of European flair, coming at you from the guys who brought you Hash House a-Go-Go and The Tractor Room. This East Village spot offers extensive menu lineups, from brunch through dinner. Make a reservation if you can, because this place is constantly busy.



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