Marlowe, home of the “Marlowe” Burger, has been temporarily closed since 2020, but you can still get your fix at Park Tavern, a spacious tavern/bistro with indoor and outdoor seating right across from Washington Square Park in North Beach. The juicy burger comes with caramelized onions, cheddar, and bacon, but it’s the horseradish aioli that really sets it apart from competitors. Ask for extra for maximum french fry dipping enjoyment.
This classic SF establishment has been serving super affordable burgers with a side of sunshine and Bay Bridge views since 1955. The menu at Red’s is limited—it’s pretty much just burgers and hot dogs—but we’re not complaining because we would never order anything else. The burgers come on a sourdough roll with mustard, mayonnaise, pickles, and onions, and you can get a double for under $10.
How to order: Walk-ins only.
You might be hesitant to trust a burger at a bar that also serves really good tacos and burritos, but the Drive-In cheeseburger at Garaje will make you a believer. The burger is one-third pound of certified Angus, double American cheese, griddled onions, pickles, lettuce, tomato, Thousand Island, and ketchup, all on a toasted Acme bun. You can even make it a double if you’re extra hungry.
How to order: Walk-ins only.
The house-ground grass-fed hamburger on grilled rosemary focaccia with aioli and pickles is not as well-known as Zuni’s famous roast chicken for two, but is just as delicious. The aioli and pickles perfectly complement the salty, fatty meat, and even though focaccia sounds like an inferior choice for a hamburger bun, it’s light and airy in a way that miraculously works. It’s not cheap—$20 for the burger, another $2.75 for cheese, and, if you want shoestring fries, another nine bucks on top of that. That’s over $30 for a cheeseburger and fries, but as a special occasion burger, it’s well worth it. You’ll just have to make sure you’re celebrating that special occasion at lunch because the burger isn’t on the dinner menu.
Even if you’re not in the mood to go bowling (is that a thing?), it’s still worth going to this upscale bowling alley and cocktail bar for its burger made with aged, granulated short rib and chuck seared in beef fat then topped with Monterey jack, caramelized onions, and caper aioli on an Acme bun. Order one for yourself because just like in bowling, you won’t want to split it.
If you’re gonna call a burger “The Best Damn Grass-Fed Cheeseburger,” it’d better actually be the best damn grass-fed cheeseburger, which 4505’s truly is (or at least one of the best) thanks in large part to the perfectly grilled grass-fed patty, effortlessly meltable Gruyère, secret sauce, and a buttery, grilled sesame and scallion bun. We don’t want to tell you what to do, but you can make it a double for four more bucks, and it would be a shame to pass up on an opportunity like that, don’t you think? Know before you go: Parking isn’t exactly easy in this neighborhood, and 4505 is counter service with heated outside seating only.