Food & Drink

The 9 Best Under-the-Radar Burgers in SF Right Now

Published On 02/12/2015 Published On 02/12/2015
Wes Rowe
Daisy Barringer/Thrillist
Daisy Barringer/Thrillist
Bartlett Hall 
The Monk's Kettle
Hog and Rocks
Daisy Barringer/Thrillist
Absinthe Brasserie & Bar
Zazie
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1. Lookout 3600 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94114 (The Castro)

This huge spot on 16th St houses one of SF's best-known gay bars. With great outdoor space (they're rocking a killer outdoor, wrap-around balcony), you should definitely be on the Lookout for their crazy parties year-round.

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2. Causwells Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA 94123 (The Marina)

This casual bistro from Alvin Garcia (Delarosa, Lolinda, Don Pisto's) and Tom Patella (California Wine Merchant) boasts classic American fare, like a deviled egg trio and pork belly confit, but the real star of the show is the the American Burger. The two patties have dry-aged fat in the mix, and are topped with American cheese, secret sauce (it's a mixture of Thousand Island and Worcestershire), and pickles. If that burger isn't enough to get you to the Marina, though, plan your meal around a visit to the Presidio Theater, which is located next door.

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3. Balboa Cafe 3199 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123 (Cow Hollow)

Open since 1913 in Cow Hollow, Balboa Cafe is one of the oldest restaurants in San Francisco. It's managed to maintain most of the original decor, including the moldings and black & white photos. The restaurant is split between a casual front area with a younger crowd and a white table-clothed dining room filled with an older crowd, but everyone is there for the same thing: the Balboa Burger. Served on a baguette with house-made pickles, it's one of the best in the city.

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4. Bartlett Hall 242 O'Farrell St, San Francisco, CA 94102 (Union Square)

Upscale bar bites and classic American fare are served with house-brewed beers and barrel-aged cocktails at this Union Square establishment. The butter burger, with with cheddar, stout rarebit, crispy onions, and Kennebec fries is the must-try item on the menu.

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5. Monk’s Kettle 3141 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

At this gastropub in The Mission, beer is the total focus. Their specialty is Belgian beers, though the list has 200 rotating beers for every palate. Monk’s Kettle has coolers set at 45, 50, and 55 degrees to ensure your brew is served at the right temperature, and the entire keg system is cleaned every two weeks so the beer always tastes its best. Food includes everything from bar bites like chile- and honey-roasted hazelnuts, to more substantial fare like dry-aged beef loin with blue cheese potato gratin. Not sure what to order? The staff is knowledgeable and friendly and totally willing to help you figure it out. We’d also be remiss if we didn’t point out that the seasonally driven pub fare is quite tasty.

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6. Hog & Rocks 3431 19th St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

What's better than an oyster bar? A ham and oyster bar! The team behind Maverick and blessed SF with this delicious double-threat, a rustic slate-walled joint sporting a dark walnut bar, a streetside patio, and, oh yeah, so much ham and oysters! Hit happy hour weekdays from 5-6:30pm for select dollar oysters and $7 cocktails like smoked margaritas and whiskey sours.

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7. Burger Bar 251 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94102 (Union Square)

Obviously you need to try every burger on the menu here, but if you have to pick one, go with the Hangover Burger: the Certified Angus beef patty comes with chopped lettuce (so good), and a toasted sesame bun (also so good), but it’s the magical “hangover sauce” that makes this a bread-meat-bread situation you’ll want to eat again and again. Fast food style, but with amazing ingredients that won’t make you feel gross afterwards. Welcome to burger perfection.

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8. Absinthe Brasserie & Bar 398 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102 (Hayes Valley)

French and Mediterranean cuisine meet top-notch cocktails at Absinthe Brasserie & Bar. Don't worry, you'll find plenty of the green fairy mixed into those cocktails and even in a special mimosa!

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9. Zazie 941 Cole St., San Francisco, CA 94117 (Cole Valley)

Since 1992, this petite French bistro has been a San Francisco brunch institution, where locals and tourists alike have gathered to enjoy awesome dishes in an intimate and quaint setting. It's a Cole Valley neighborhood gem that has countless meals worth lingering over; from its multi-level back porch/garden to its dog-friendliness to the awesome Croque Monsieur, Zazie is a spot that has added permanent character and charm to the city.

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