San Diego is known for its laid-back spirit, beautiful beaches, thumping nightlife, and SoCal eats. Even though the city conjures images of surfing, California burritos, and flip flops, there is a lot more going on here. The robust restaurant scene is a nod to locally sourced produce, humanely-raised pastured animals, and sustainable fishing practices. The result is an eclectic array of culinary styles and innovative creations in this foodie haven, and the classic American hamburger figures prominently in the mix. Looking for the finest burger in America’s Finest City can be vexing with what looks like endless choices, so to narrow it down we’ve compiled a list of the six best burger joints in the city. All you need is a big appetite.
Best Burgers by the Beach
For a hard to beat burger by the beach, it’s Hodad’s in San Diego’s bohemian Ocean Beach neighborhood. Here both surfers and hodads (wannabe surfers) are welcome. This family-owned-and-operated restaurant has been thriving for more than 40 years thanks to their classic made-to-order burgers. Guests can choose mini, single, and double stacked patties piled high with the freshest ingredients. Over the years they’ve gained worldwide attention for their larger-than-life burgers that have been prominently featured in the media. They’ve caught the attention of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, the Food Network, and CNN to name a few. Visitors will often find a line of eager diners down the block waiting to get their hands around one of these stacked burgers.
Rocky’s Crown Pub
Midway between Sail Bay and Fiesta Bay, Rocky’s Crown Pub is the local’s burger joint of choice in San Diego’s Pacific Beach neighborhood. The locally famous neighborhood pub is as unassuming as its menu. They take a relaxed and simplistic approach to both. Guests will feel at home in this friendly bar sipping a cold beer while watching their favorite sports team and indulging in a straightforward burger. The choices here are easy – one-third or one-half-pound patty? With cheese, or without? Do you want fries with that? Burger connoisseurs will put their stamp of approval on these classic burgers where the only toppings you need are lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, and a dollop of mayo.
For an upscale burger experience near the beach, Burger Lounge in La Jolla is the place to go. The self-described original grass-fed burger restaurant makes their burgers with sustainability in mind. Each burger is made with 100% single source grass-fed beef and topped with local organic ingredients thanks to their partnerships with small farms. Health conscious diners can choose from an eclectic menu that supports every diet from Quinoa Veggie or Alaskan Cod patties to Grass-Fed Bison and traditional beef patties. Enjoy a simple menu of handcrafted selections like their signature Lounge Burger piled high with fresh onion, lettuce, tomato, choice of cheese, and smeared with house-made 1000 island; your choice of fries or rings.
Best Burgers Inland
If you like to keep your burger experience low-key, look no further than Crazee Burger in the culturally hip North Park neighborhood. At this modest burger joint, the menu ranges from signature burgers made with grass-fed Angus beef to exotic meat burgers that include elk, duck, gator, camel, and others. All of their delectable burgers have mouthwatering toppings that complement their distinctive flavors such as Chubby Charlie covered in Swiss cheese, bacon, sautéed mushrooms, pastrami, a fried egg, and creamed horseradish sauce. Add a side of sweet potato fries, frings, or savory chili. This is where you can dare to try something different, or stick with what you know. The menu also includes sandwiches, sausages, salads, and soups.
It doesn’t get more neighborly than the Neighborhood burger joint in the trendy East Village neighborhood of downtown San Diego. This charming gastropub is committed to utilizing locally sourced ingredients to create their straightforward, yet dynamic, menu starting with their Smalls of goat cheese balls, beer-battered onion rings, and pickled soft-boiled eggs. Hand-crafted and house-made are synonymous with Neighborhood from their signature burgers like the Drive-Thru topped with sharp American, dill pickles, and hood sauce to their truffle fries and fried dill pickle chips. Guests can also choose from their menu of “Hood Specials” which include everything from Shepard’s Pie to Beer Battered Fish and Chips.
Anny’s Fine Burger
This is the place for gourmet burgers for the health conscious. Anny’s Fine Burger in the residential neighborhood of Kearny Mesa is a family-run business bringing only fresh ingredients and superior meats to the table. Their certified grass-fed 100% Angus beef is ground fresh and lightly seasoned to perfection daily, then topped with locally sourced, ingredients. They offer an extensive menu of more than 35 innovative gourmet burgers to choose from such as their Chili Cheese Burger, covered in ground beef meat chili, cheddar cheese, and beer-battered onion rings. In addition to their signature burgers, they also feature foot-long hot dogs and wings served with house-made dressings and sauces to boot.
What’s Your Favorite San Diego Burger Joint?
As the saying goes, we’ve shown you ours, now show us yours. With so many burger restaurants to choose from we simply couldn’t write about them all, and we know we haven’t even scratched the surface. If you feel passionately about your favorite place to grab a burger in San Diego and don’t see it on the list, let us know in the comments below.