Eating out in SF can become a wildly expensive endeavor, but if you know where to go, you can easily keep your stomach and your wallet full. To wit: here are 15 of the city’s best burgers you can cram into your face hole for under $10.
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This beloved Mission watering hole boasts an impressive cocktail list, but people come here for the $9 pimento cheese burger. The drool-worthy pimento cheese is made with sharp cheddar, mayonnaise, roasted red peppers, apple cider vinegar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, and sautéed onions (and that’s just in the cheese). Paired with pickle slices on a house-made caramelized sweet potato roll, this perfectly sized quarter-pounder won’t do you wrong.
Who says you have to get tacos at a taqueria? Step outside the box with Garaje’s “Famous Drive In Style Burger.” The single cheeseburger clocks in at a cool $8 and comes with double American cheese, BBQ’d onions, dill pickles, chopped lettuce, tomatoes, and Thousand Island sauce on a toasted Acme bun. Sorry not sorry, Taco Tuesday.
It’s called the “Best Damn Grass Fed Cheeseburger”, which is a very bold claim. And although it’s debatable (argue away about it in the comments), it definitely deserves a top spot on this list. It’s a 1/4lb of grass fed beef, lettuce, onion, Gruyere, and 4505’s secret sauce on a buttery sesame seed and scallion bun. The single patty will only set you back $9.75, and it’s the perfect lunch for a sunny day on the patio.
SF’s favorite punk dive bar (which boasts the “meanest bartenders in the city,” whatever that means) serves up infamous Bloody Marys and backyard BBQ-style burgers (paper plates included) on one of the city’s best patios. This no-frills burger is just $7 ($8 with cheese) and outfitted with only the necessities -- mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles.
Financial District (& other locations)
Get the most bang for your buck at Super Duper -- a local fast food-esque spot with “slow food values” (this means all that fancy sustainability stuff we love so much). The Super Burger features two 4oz Niman Ranch patties with Super Sauce for just $7.75. That means you can add the optional cheese and bacon and your grand total will be just $9.50 (Oh, and don’t forget the free house-made pickles).
Lower Nob Hill
These are not your average under-$10 specialty burgers. They come fresh with sauteed mushrooms and teriyaki, blue cheese and bacon, or BBQ sauce and onion rings. Or you could grab “The Bomb,” an open faced burger smothered in homemade chili, shredded cheddar cheese, and diced red onions. At Pearl’s you can get a ¼ pound for $5.99 or a ½ pound for $8.99 of any of these crazy concoctions. Oh, and their regular (and mini) burgers are even cheaper. Do they come with a side of fries? Naturally.
Lower Pac Heights (& other locations)
DIYers rejoice. Roam allows you to choose from beef, turkey, or veggie patties (or add a few bucks for bison) in a variety of styles and flavors all for under $10. Gluten-free folk can opt for a lettuce wrap or gluten-free bun, while veg-heads will love the meat-free patty. The classic will only set you back $7.99 (sans cheese) but you can also create your own burger with a variety of toppings, sauces, and buns. Mmmm, buns.
Ah, Sam’s... it won Anthony Bourdain’s seal of approval after an all-day booze-fueled tour of SF (he called it one of the three best burgers in the world), and even though we don’t know anyone who has eaten this thing before 1am, we still stand by it. Heck, Sam’s has been serving up burgers from the same hole-in-the-wall since 1966. It’s greasy, cheap (as in $8.99 for a burger, fries, and a coke), open late, and the only thing you’ll need after a long night in Chinatown.
Uncle Boy’s isn’t for the faint of heart. You could go for the “OG” with all the usual suspects for a mere $5.79, but why stop there? Load up with the “Mama-Mia,” a grilled Angus beef patty topped with Jack cheese, lettuce, four fried mozzarella sticks, and zesty marinara sauce. Why would anyone get a side of mozzarella sticks when you could simply have them in your burger?
Need we say more? It’s a California institution, and we dare you to name one road trip that didn’t involve a double double (animal style, duh), fries, and a drink from this quintessential fast food spot (oh yeah, and it’s only $4.60 so you can upgrade that drink to a shake and still coast easily under $10).
Hamburguesa, anyone? Mosto does mezcal, tequila, and tacos right, but the real surprise star here is the $8 burger. It’s straight from Mexico City with melty Oaxaca cheese, spicy rajas (that’s poblano chile strips), and zesty pickled onions. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a flight of tequila to steady you on your walk home.
Step back to the 1950s at this old-school drive-in that’s a slice of Mission history. These no-frills, classic burgers have the nostalgia element down but won’t skimp on toppings. The “Whiz Burger” is a ⅓ pound chuck patty topped with two slices of smoked bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, mustard, and mayo, and is served on a French roll instead of your standard burger bun (don’t worry, purists -- they’ve still got sesame buns here). Make it a meal with fries and a drink and you’ll still breeze by at just $7.18. We hear the shakes are great, too.
You may know Chef Tom Pizzica from his days on The Next Food Network Star for his all pork belly burgers. Maybe you’re rolling your eyes at this statement, but we promise these burgers are anything but gimmicky. Choose from 100% pork belly, ground chicken thigh, or veggie patty (a delicious combination of roasted eggplant, chickpea, fried onion, and shredded carrot, even for meat-eaters), and then pick your style. We like the “All-American” with rosemary mayo, sliced granny smith apple, and sharp cheddar or the “Banh, Baby, Banh” with Vietnamese caramel, hardboiled egg, fresh jalapeño, and cilantro leaves. The best part? They all clock in at $8.95.
OK, so it may look a little sketchy nestled next to the Days Inn in Hayes Valley, but don’t let that fool you. You’ll come back again and again for the signature “Double Decker Burger” -- that’s (you guessed it) two patties, topped with two cheeses (swiss and American), lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, and their specialty mayo on a toasted sesame bun. Pro tip: go in for happy hour when you’ll get deals on chicken wings and beer.
The Fog City burger and fries normally cost a whopping $17.50, but come in any night after 9pm and you’ll get it for just $9 at the bar. That means you get all the fancy extras of an almost-$20 burger at half the price. We’re talking smoked tomato aioli, house-made American cheese, tomato, onion, and dill pickle on a burger under $10. Momma would be proud.
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Eloise Porter is a freelance food and beverage writer who likes her burgers medium rare and considers it a big red flag if you order them “medium” (don’t even get her started on “well done”). Follow her other red flags @eloisepporter.
1. ABV3174 16th St, San Francisco
2. Garaje475 3rd St, San Francisco
3. 4505 Burgers & BBQ705 Divisadero, San Francisco
4. Zeitgeist199 Valencia St, San Francisco
5. Super Duper FiDi721 Market St, San Francisco
6. Pearl's Deluxe Burgers708 Post St, San Francisco
7. Roam Artisan Burgers1923 Fillmore St, San Francisco
8. Sam's618 Broadway St, San Francisco
9. Uncle Boy's245 Balboa St, San Francisco
10. In-N-Out333 Jefferson St, San Francisco
11. Mosto741 Valencia St, San Francisco
12. Whiz Burgers700 S Van Ness Ave, San Francisco
13. Big Chef Tom's Belly Burgers1550 Howard St, San Francisco
14. Double Decker465 Grove St, San Francisco
15. Fog City1300 Battery St, San Francisco
Though ABV is more than just a great whiskey bar, its whiskey menu isn't to be forgotten. You’ll find a surprising and thorough list of rare Scotches, Japanese whiskies, bourbons, ryes, and cask-strength bottles. Its bar snacks are definitely worth writing home about too, and -- it should be mentioned -- it serves an impressive brunch on the weekends. Win!
SOMA's Garaje is one-third taqueria, one-third taco joint, and one-third sports bar. And it's cheap. For $3 you can get a street-style taco filled with quality meat and toppings; for $8 you can get the Zapatos burrito, stuffed with meat, cheese, refried beans, and avocado, then pressed like a panini. The most notable thing about Garaje though is the Double Drive-In cheeseburger, which comes with barbecued onions, dill pickles, chopped lettuce, tomatoes, and Thousand Island dressing on a toasted Acme bun.
An offshoot of the original 4505 Meats, this burger and 'cue shack is one for the Divis books. This butcher-owned and operated spot takes meat and barbecue seriously, with loaded platters of pulled pork, smoked ribs, and hot sausage, and quarter-pound grass-fed burgers. No matter if your main is in the form of a sandwich or platter, don't overlook the fixin's -- the fried mac & cheese with a hot dog inside is an insanely delicious creation.
Zeitgeist is a fascinating combo of a dive and a biergarten that houses an eclectic blend of friendly patrons who are all there for the same reasons: to sample a bodacious variety of beer, enjoy the nice weather on the numerous outdoor picnic tables, or slug an award-winning Bloody Mary (and in many cases, all three).
Prepared to single-handedly expand the waistlines of the FiDi beginning tomorrow, SD's second location is a mezzanine'd behemoth on Market that's three times the size of the OG Castro spot, with a 12-seat front patio and the same selection of single- and double-patty burgers.
The Tenderloin locale of this chain serves up delicious burgers, stellar fries, and even better people-watching. Step into this classic burger chain for both traditional and creative beef sandwiches. Try the pesto, which is fixed with pesto sauce, mayo, and tomato, or the Phat Bobb (bacon, onion rings, BBQ sauce, jack and mayo).
Not just what the buffalo do when they're home (home) on the range, Roam's also what you'll be doing on Fillmore at the second iteration of the awesome Cow Hollow burgery. Roam's committment to using sustainable meats and produce, along with their Straus Family Creamery shakes topped with bruléed marshmallow, make for an eco-friendly dining experience that won't compromise your tastebuds but will make you exclaim "Holy cow!".
This Bourdain-approved burger (and pizza) hole-in-the-wall has been keeping San Francisco fed on the cheap since 1956 (often well after midnight). If you've had a long night in Chinatown there are few better decisions than spending $8.99 on a beautifully simple old-school cheeseburger, a pile of fries, and a Coke.
This counter-service only burger spot in Laurel Heights serves up some of the juiciest patties in the Bay. With plenty of toppings and sides available for your dining pleasure, deck your burger out to the 9's, or make it combo with fries and a soda for a cool $10.
Make it Animal style at this classic California spot. This outpost on Fisherman's Wharf boasts all of your favorite burgers, shakes, and sides, but with sweeping views of the Bay to boot.
Think of Mosto as the smaller, Mission-located cousin of Tacolicious, because it's from the same dude. In a space ominously lit with a wall of floating candles (fire hazard?), it may be hard to see all THREE HUNDRED of their tequilas, but don't worry, you'll find -- and taste -- them all eventually. We do recommend a steady approach to that goal, though. Because Cinco de Mayo is fast approaching, and you'll need to be in top taco-eating shape.
This Mission District standby has been slinging patties since the 1950s' when they opened their street-side counter on South Van Ness Avenue. Come for their cheap and delicious burgers, crispy fries, and malted milkshakes.
Big Chef Tom's Belly Burgers hails from one of the best burger chefs in the city -- a Food Network Star finalist who makes his burgers entirely out of pork belly. Head on in for some of the best, juiciest burgs around.
An under-the-radar spot in Hayes Valley that has some of the best wings in the city, and they come in "bucket" size.
When Chef Bruce Hill (Zero Zero, Bix, Picco in Larkspur) decided to take over and remake the legendary Fog City Diner, it was a calculated risk. After all, the diner was a legend. But his revitalization was spot-on, and the burger he brought to this party (which he has claimed would happily be his last meal) is easily one of the best in the city. The combination of the smoked tomato aioli, house-made American, thin patty, dill pickle, and onion create what in many ways is the perfect version of the upscale diner burger. Even better? You can get the burger and the rest of the menu plus cocktails like a raspberry-based Negroni from 7am 'til 2am.