Embrace the Elements With Fire & Smoke Burgers
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.