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No doubt about it, burgers are a Southern California classic and, these days, burgers can also be a great culinary experience.
If there’s one thing San Diego knows how to do, it’s make a great burger – just ask the readers of Travel + Leisure where San Diego has been voted among America’s Best Burger Cities. Here’s a list of 10 favorite burger spots you can use to plan your San Diego culinary experience. Enjoy!
Winner of several "best of" awards, Slaters 50/50 was inspired by the belief that bacon is "meat candy". This means you will find their original 50% ground bacon and 50% ground beef burger patty on the menu along with several other delectable flavors of premium natural Southern California grown beef grown naturally without any hormones or antibiotics. These delicious burgers, along with local and regional craft beer selections, make Slaters 50/50 a mouth-watering dining experience.
Hodad’s loads up their burgers making them a fun experience to eat. A locally owned and operated restaurant found only in San Diego, Hodad’s has been recognized by CNN as one of the top 5 burger joints in the country, and for good reason. With sizes from a mini to a double double, these extra-large, extra tasty burgers come conveniently served with large cut homemade fries in a combo. There are three locations in San Diego, boasting a classic surf grunge atmosphere, including the original burger joint in Ocean Beach, a newer location in downtown on Broadway Ave. and one located in Petco Park for events held there.
Perched on Bankers Hill just north of downtown is the aptly named Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant. The ambiance and stylish decor at this place can’t be beat, and neither can their BH Burger. This grass fed piece of heaven comes with aged white cheddar, heirloom plum tomatoes, and fresh cut fries (which can be upgraded to their amazing truffle fries). Not a cheddar fan? They also have a rotating selection of artisan cheeses to complement your culinary taste.
For those on the go, no matter where you find yourself in San Diego, chances are there’s a Burger Lounge near you. With locations from Coronado to La Jolla, this local chain serves up grass fed burgers in traditional American fashion. Their offering comes with your choice of cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and house-made 1000 Island Dressing. They also stack the deck with fantastic fries and onion rings, and even serve up cupcakes to top off your meal. Burger Lounge is a Southern California favorite that started in San Diego and has grown to include a location in Las Vegas. Touted as 100% fresh, single source American grass-fed beef and cooked on a high temperature flat top grill, this is just a terrific bite. Burgers are served with fresh toppings and their own fresh baked buns.
If you don’t have a Five Guys Burgers & Fries near you or haven’t tried one yet, then make this a stop on your San Diego vacation. There are a handful of locations in San Diego including Hillcrest, Point Loma Liberty Station, Naval Base Coronado, Pacific Beach, Kearny Mesa, El Cajon and Naval Base San Diego. Made to order just the way you like it and very reasonably priced, Five Guys serves up a great burger. Plus, they don’t charge extra for any of the dozen toppings offered.
Smack dab in the middle of Downtown San Diego’s East Village is Neighborhood. Known for its large selection of local craft beers, Neighborhood offers three distinctive grass fed burgers: the NH with blue gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, and pepper greens; the 777 with baby spinach, plum tomato confit, and bearnaise sauce; and the spicy Cajun with pickled radish, pepper-cucumber slaw, and chipotle mayo. Try one with their amazing sweet potato fries.
Hands down a favorite burger for many, Smashburger is another chain exploding across the U.S. and San Diego is lucky enough to have several locations scattered throughout the county. What makes Smashburger so fantastic is the fresh, not frozen, Angus beef, which is very tasty and juicy. The burgers are served with fresh produce, lots of toppings and your pick of an artisan bun. They also have awesome milkshakes made with Haagen-Dazs ice cream.
The Waterfront serves up a classic burger. Located in Little Italy, this restaurant is San Diego’s oldest tavern. Opened in 1933, The Waterfront remains true to its origin: a neighborhood hangout serving cold drinks and delicious noshables. The tavern is 21 and over only and has a revolving calendar of bands and events. However, the real draw is the burgers. Big, tasty and loaded with grilled onions.
With locations in North Park and Liberty Station, Soda & Swine has a decidedly different take on ground meat, fashioning interesting combinations like smoked pork with chipotle bbq & pepper jack, into meatball sliders, submarines and skillets. They also offer a collection of interesting side dishes, like dirty fries, mac 'n cheese and roasted brussels sprouts, with a large selection of craft beer and soda on tap.
Originally launched at a food truck, Stuffed! now has two permanent locations - inside Liberty Public Market in Point Loma and Garnet Ave. in Pacific Beach. Known for decadent grass-fed burgers stuffed with cheese, crunchy tater tots, delicious sandwiches and custom order mac n' cheese, the Garnet Ave. location as an adjacent Frat Boy Donuts shop (same owner) with over-the-top variations of classic donuts and other sweet goodness - yum!
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For the ultimate guide to planning your San Diego vacation, view and download the San Diego Visitor Planning Guide, packed with useful information that will help you plan the perfect San Diego getaway.
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