Grant Marek/Thrillist

We love burgers like a fat kid loves cake... and burgers. What we don't love, though, is eating not-the-best ones in San Francisco, which's why we set out this month to find those housing alllllllllll of the 7x7's most promising patties, new and old. (Don't worry guys, we did like 15 sit-ups, too.)

Several mustard-stained pairs of pants later, we settled on this: our list of SF's 20 burger standard bearers.
 

ABV

The Mission
What you're getting: Pimento cheeseburger

You kinda knew Kevin Cimino's burger could end up being a dark-horse favorite when ABV opened in 2014, especially since Cimino used to work with Chris Kronner (yeah, Kronnerburger Chris Kronner) at Bar Tartine. What you didn't know is that it would so quickly go from sleeper to fucking Sea Biscuit. Almost every inch of this burger is made in-house (from the pimento cheese to the freshly baked caramelized sweet potato bun), and yet it somehow still only costs $9 for a compact, flavor-napalming quarter pounder.

Courtesy of Cait Kerton

Causwells

The Marina
What you're getting: Americana burger

Well, first of all, the relative newcomer to the must-have burger scene debuted on our 33 best burgers list this year, then proceeded to go into our burger bracket and make it all the way to the finals, only to lose to a burger shack in Mississippi, which held a voting party attended by their freakin’ mayor. And there is logic behind that sort of popularity: Causewells' Americana burger is like an In-N-Out Double-Double that got fancified by the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella. We'd extend this metaphor even further to include pumpkin coaches, but let’s just maybe leave it there.
 

Rosamunde Sausage Grill

Lower Haight
What you're getting: Tuesday cheeseburger special

You can only get this elusive exacting harmony of cheeseburger-iness (served on an incredible bun that's somewhere in between onion roll and English muffin) Tuesday at lunch. Only at Rosamunde's Lower Haight location. And only for $6. Pro tip: show up at 11:30am and get in line if you actually want to eat one, they only make 200 of 'em.

Joe Starkey/Thrillist

Garaje

SOMA
What you're getting: Crazy Dave's Double Drive-In Cheeseburger

This is just a fantastic burger. With two-thirds pound of certified Angus, double American cheese, griddled onions, pickles, lettuce, tomato, 1000 Island, and an Acme bun, this is the Goldilocks of San Francisco burgers -- not too much or too little of anything, everything is just right.

Joe Starkey/Thrillist

Rickybobby

Lower Haight
What you're getting: Beef and bacon burger

It's got other options now, like an all-beef burger, and a country burger with a spicy pork patty, but don’t be fooled. You still want to get the legend, the beef and bacon burger, in which both meats are ground together then topped with American, mayo, ketchup, onion, and optional pickles. Putting the bacon in the patty might not seem like some sort of mind-blowing invention on its face, but just wait until you bite into that sucker.

Courtesy of Ed Anderson Photo

4505 Burgers & BBQ

Western Addition
What you're getting: The Best Damn Grass Fed Cheeseburger

There is a reason, friends, that this burger has been on our best in the country list for three straight years, and was our top pick for burgers in California. Ryan Farr knows just what the hell he’s doing when he created his “Best Damn” cheeseburger, thanks in large part to that perfectly grilled grass-fed patty, effortlessly meltable Gruyere, secret sauce, and a homemade sesame and scallion bun.
 

Zuni Cafe

Hayes Valley
What you're getting: House-ground Marty Ranch hamburger

Before I ever lived in SF, I knew about Zuni Cafe and its house-ground Marty Ranch burger on grilled rosemary focaccia with aioli/pickles. There is a reason it has been a legend for so long, and that reason is the perfect combination of salty, fatty meat; cool aioli/vinegar pickles; and a surprisingly light and airy focaccia that complements it all. If you want to get crazy you can add grilled onions and some Beecher’s Flagship cheese, but it doesn’t need it all. The meat stands alone.

Aubrie Pick

Gott's Roadside

Embarcadero
What you're getting: Double cheeseburger

Gott's Roadside in the Ferry Building (it's the place with the massive line out the front) does a juicy double cheeseburger exactly the way a juicy double cheeseburger should be done -- nothing flashy, just one-third pound Niman Ranch Angus beef patties with American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and secret sauce, all on a toasted egg bun.

Courtesy of Nopa

Nopa

Western Addition
What you're getting: Wood-grilled hamburger

Nopa has been doing such great things for so long that you can find yourself kind of taking it for granted. Like, of course you can have a perfect three-course meal at 12:30am with fancy cocktails and thoughtful wines and all of that. But one of the simple pleasures of going to Nopa is sitting at the bar and ordering the wood-grilled hamburger with pickled onions and French fries. The fatty meat blends with the vinegar from the onions and creates this perfect counterbalance that eschews the need for cheese. But it does go damn well with that St. George Terroir gin, grapefruit, lime, and honey cocktail you should probably start drinking right now. 
 

Broken Record

Excelsior
What you're getting: Hood Burger

It probably shan’t be a surprise that one of the most underrated bars in the city has one of the most underrated kitchens in the back of it. Almost everything Hood Grub makes is fantastic (try its version of poutine on tater tots) but the burger stands out, thanks to the Brandt Farms/Beelers combination sausage and beef patty, bacon, fried egg, and Jarlsberg on garlic bread.

Courtesy of Allison Webber

Trick Dog

The Mission
What you're getting: The Trick Dog

"Whoa this hot dog looks delicious. Whoa, this hot dog is a burger. WHOA, this hot dog is a really good burger." That's the inner monologue of every single person who has ever had Trick Dog's award-winning tongue-in-cheek riff on the burger dog at the Olympic Club’s snack shack. The house-ground blend of brisket, sirloin, and chuck is one of the best in the city, and the toasted sesame bun it gets dropped into (along with shredded lettuce, pickles, house sauce, and cheddar) always has just the right amount of toasting.

Grant Marek/Thrillist

Marlowe

SOMA
What you're getting: Marlowe Burger

There's a reason you can get the Marlowe Burger at Marlowe, and Park Tavern, AND The Cavalier, and that reason is it's freaking delicious. The caramelized onions, cheddar, and bacon are all on point, but it's the horseradish aioli that really sets this thing apart/makes you lick your shirt when you drip some on it.
 

Mission Bowling Club

The Mission
What you're getting: Mission Burger

Before Mission Chinese Food, and Commonwealth, and Mission Cantina, and Mission Bowling Club, there was Mission Burger -- a short-lived operation behind the butcher counter of the Duc Loi market run by Anthony Myint and Danny Bowien before they became kinda a big deal. The burger -- and its decadent patty of aged, granulated short rib and chuck seared in beef fat -- got super popular, super fast, before getting super gone when Mission Burger closed in 2010, just nine months after opening. Then in 2012 Myint and Mission Bowling Club resurrected the burger from its delicious grave, and here we are.

Courtesy of Charlie Villyard

Cafe du Nord

Duboce Triangle
What you're getting: Burger du Nord

Of all the changes at the iconic music venue tucked underneath the historic Swedish American Hall -- which was closed for a year and a half before reopening under new ownership in June -- our favorite one involves the kitchen. It's there that three-time James Beard Foundation Rising Star Chef of the Year nominee Thomas McNaughton (Flour + Water, Central Kitchen, Salumeria) is making his first-ever burger (WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG, BRO?), a juicy, messy-in-the-right-kind-of-way revamping of the classic, with gloriously melty sharp cheddar, lettuce, pickles, and secret sauce.

Peter Prato

The Tipsy Pig

The Marina
What you're getting: The Tipsy Burger

The Tipsy Burger is famous at this point, having been a mainstay of the Marina bro crowd for many, many years. But here’s a pro-tip for you: see if they’ll substitute the regular cheddar on the burger for the smoked cheddar-pilsner dip that comes with the pretzel bites. The extra tang pushes the burger over the top, and making that substitution will help you gain the much needed respect of the three dudes who played Cal water polo sitting next to you. 
 

Don Pisto's

North Beach
What you're getting: Hamburguesa

Don Pisto's is a very good Mexican restaurant. Don Pisto's has very good traditional Mexican meals you should absolutely enjoy. BUT you still need to get the hamburguesa marinated in bacon and onion, and topped with guacamole. I, admittedly, had passed it up the first three or four times I went here, until a friend clued me in. That will never happen again.

Grant Marek/Thrillist

Sam's Pizza and Hamburgers

North Beach
What you're getting: Sam's Double Cheeseburger

There are four things you need to know about Sam's Pizza and Hamburgers: 1) Anthony Bourdain called its double cheeseburger one of the three best burgers in the world, 2) we took the above photo at 1:30am after checking off some San Francisco bucket list bars in Chinatown, 3) we're not entirely sure Sam's actually serves pizza, and 4) the guy behind the grill isn't Sam, it's either the guy who bought the place from Sam in 1970, or his son.

Courtesy of Biergarten

Biergarten

Hayes Valley
What you're getting: The Wednesday burger special

It’s only available on Wednesdays, and the toppings vary, so we can’t make any definite statements about the experience you’re going to have, other than to say that you will absolutely want to order more than one. Especially if the combination includes bacon, some sort of experimental aioli, and its house-made pickles.

Grant Marek/Thrillist

Old Bus Tavern

Bernal Heights
What you're gettting: O.T. Special

Old Bus Tavern's burger (which comes with a pair of patties, mandolin-ed cucumbers, Gouda, and house bacon) lasted less than a week on the regular menu before they had to pull it and move it to the late-night-only-after-10pm menu -- the burgers are dry-aged in-house and they very literally couldn't store enough meat to meet the demand. According to the guys, they were out of burgers by 7pm on more than one night, thus the new restricted patty hours. Want the burger but don't want to be in Bernal at 10? No sweat, you can hit our early leader for San Francisco's best opening of the year on Sunday, when they'll be doing it All. Day. Long.

Kristina Haas

Fog City 

Embarcadero
What you're getting: Fog City Burger and fries

When Chef Bruce Hill (Zero Zero, Bix, Picco in Larkspur, etc.) decided to take over and remake the legendary Fog City Diner, it was a calculated risk. After all, the diner is a legend, even if the food had lagged in the past few years. 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.

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Kevin Alexander is Thrillist's Executive Editor, and once ate six burgers in a day, not even on a dare or for research or anything. Follow his cholesterol rise @KAlexander03.

Grant Marek is Thrillist's Senior Cities Director and is now certain that if you eat nothing but burgers for a month you will not, in fact, turn into a burger. TOLD YOU, MOM. Follow him on Twitter @grant_marek.

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1. ABV 3174 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103 (The Mission)

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!

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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. Rosamunde Sausage Grill 545 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117 (Lower Haight)

From it's beginnings, Rosamunde has had a location on Haight right next to craft-beer haven Toronado. The grill's notorious sausages have now spread all the way to Brooklyn, but this original spot is also notable for Burger Tuesday, when they turn out a limited number of ridiculous burgers around lunchtime.

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4. Garaje 475 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107 (Financial District)

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.

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5. Rickybobby 400 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117 (Lower Haight)

You know it's a sweet place when it has two first names for its only name. And if you like cheap and hearty eats, soft lighting and crazy crap on the walls, you'll love Rickybobby.

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6. 4505 Burgers & BBQ 705 Divisadero, San Francisco, CA 94112

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.

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7. Zuni Cafe 1658 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102 (Soma)

A culinary talisman for over thirty years, Zuni Cafe on the ever-bustling Market Street continues to serve New American cuisine with French and Italian influences. With a menu that changes daily, the element of surprise is never lost -- all while using the freshest, most sustainable ingredients.

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8. Gott’s Roadside 1 Ferry Building, Ste 6, San Francisco, CA 94105 (Embarcadero)

Located at the Ferry Building, this eatery is the perfect spot for a water-side lunch. Park it at one of their long, wooden cafeteria-style tables and snack on bites like burgers, milkshakes, and choose from four types of fries: regular, super-garlicky, sweet potato dusted with chili powder, or the go-for-broke chili cheese fries.

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9. Nopa 560 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117 (Alamo Square)

Nopa is a San Francisco institution that does everything really, really well. It's the best brunch in Western Addition and one of the best in the whole city. Its burger is perfect with pickled onions and French fries, especially when eaten at the bar. It's a one-stop-shop for a date, a birthday dinner, or dinner with your parents. Plus, the kitchen is open until 1 AM for a full dinner. Yeah, this place wins at everything.

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10. Broken Record 1166 Geneva Ave, San Francisco, CA 94112

Broken Record is a super-casual Excelsior dive bar where you can kick back with friends on the spacious outdoor patio, but it means business with its drink menu. On it, you’ll find an extensive list of liquors, particularly whiskey and bourbon, and dozens of rotating local craft brews. Once you've worked up an appetite, head to the kitchen in the back (it’s called “Hood Grub”) for innovative bar food: tater tots with curry ketchup, spicy wings made with Mary’s organic air-chilled drumettes, and a meatloaf sandwich on a Dutch crunch roll all await you.

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11. Trick Dog 3010 20th St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

Brought to you by The Bon Vivants, Trick Dog in The Mission's a marble- and steel-adorned cocktailery serving drinks from a Pantone-inspired menu with names from favorite song titles, along with bar bites like beer nuts, pickles, and cracklins.

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12. Marlowe 500 Brannan St, San Francisco, CA 94107 (Soma)

This French-American bistro in SOMA has all the things that make a neighborhood restaurant so recommendable: excellent brunch; a fine wine selection featuring French, Italian, and Californian wines; an outdoor patio; and last but definitely not least: one of the best burgers in the city. Served with fries, the $16 Marlowe Burger is stacked with caramelized onions, cheddar, bacon, and horseradish aioli. It's so darn good that it's also served at sister restaurants Park Tavern and The Cavalier.

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13. Mission Bowling Club 3176 17th St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

Equipped with six lanes from an old Fort Bragg alley, MBC's ready to make your bowling experience feel all the more fancy with tufted leather booths where you can get down on fare that you'd be hard pressed to find in most bowling alleys, from gumbo-spiced red bean hushpuppies and harissa sauced lamb meatballs to Korean baby back ribs and English pea toast. And because bowling requires drinking, you'll also find a solid craft beer selection available in both pitchers and flights.

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14. Cafe Du Nord 2174 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114 (Upper Market)

What happens when you take an over 100-year-old concert venue in Duboce Triangle, revamp it, and invite James Beard nominee Thomas McNaughton (the guy behind Flour + Water and Central Kitchen) to do the cooking and the Trick Dog guys to shake the cocktails? You get Café Du Nord, an absolutely killer new-but-old restaurant-cum-music-venue. The burger here is a juicy, messy-in-the-right-kind-of-way revamping of the classic, with gloriously melty sharp cheddar, lettuce, pickles, and secret sauce, and you can order it until 1am every night. Enjoy it in the Viking Room, a restaurant tucked away in the back, or at the bar while listening to live music and sipping a seriously good cocktail, and if you stay late, you can snag half price Champagne and oysters when the clock strikes midnight.

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15. The Tipsy Pig 2231 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123 (The Marina)

Brunch and the Marina go together like bacon and eggs (and bottomless mimosas), and The Tipsy Pig has all these things, plus everything else you could ever want in a gastropub. Outdoor patio? Check. 40 local and worldly brews? Check. Cocktails? You get the idea. You’re going to want to get here early on a Sunday morning to stake out a spot outside and stay here all day chowing down on huevos rancheros, old-fashioned doughnuts, and the killer burger.

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16. Don Pisto's 510 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94133 (North Beach)

If you were convinced you couldn’t find good Mexican in North Beach, think again. Don Pisto’s is a casual spot for Mexican street eats. You’ll find the usual suspects like ceviche, tacos, tamales, and margaritas, but the real show-stopper here is the whole, market price lobster enough for two. Dip it in heavenly cilantro garlic butter, then go to town creating absolutely decadent tacos with all the fixin’s.

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17. Sam's 618 Broadway St, San Francisco, CA 94133 (North Beach)

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.

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18. Biergarten 424 Octavia St, San Francisco, CA 94102 (Hayes Valley)

With quintessential large mugs, sausages and sauerkraut, long picnic tables in the sun (hopefully), and a rotating selection of impressive German beers, Biergarten everything you want in, well, a beer garden. It’s owned by the masterminds behind Suppenküche, so you know you can bank on them having a way with Teutonic suds and snacks. With no roof, it’s not the ideal spot for a rainy day pint, but you’ll be clamoring for a space come summertime.

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19. Old Bus Tavern 3193 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

This casual gastropub in Bernal Heights serves game-changing drinks and eats in a cool, friendly atmosphere. For starters, the bar's 14 taps are split between OTB beers brewed in-house and a rotating selection of local craft ones. The food menu, which has a four-course tasting option, is too good to be considered basic pub fare. The desserts are listed simply by flavor ("chocolate" and "vanilla") and are thoughtful, complex, and downright unforgettable. Old Bus Tavern's menu will tempt you to order everything on it.

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20. Fog City 1300 Battery St, San Francisco, CA 94111

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.

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