Forget fish tacos. In these polarized times, perhaps the one thing San Diegans of all stripes can agree on is that this town has ascended to burger heaven.
Whether they’re pressed on a flat top, diner-style, grilled at a gourmet restaurant or made to replicate a fast-food classic, San Diego’s burger-sphere is sizzling.
No casual joint nor serious eatery worth its ketchup — no mustard! — would dare to not have an expertly crafted burger on its menu.
Like any red-meat-loving, red-blooded American, I’ve been a burger fan since I was a kid, preferring them over any other kind of sandwich, junk food or summer barbecue staple. And over the past three years or so, every time I’ve tried a new restaurant or returned to an old favorite, I’ve tried the burger.
The goal was to combine one of my favorite foods with the task of compiling a definitive list of the best burgers in town. Brunch, lunch or dinner, served with the works, a secret sauce or shrunk down to slider-size, if there was a burger to order, I ordered it.
Yup, you can bet your brioche bun, that’s a lot of burgers. Or as a regular lunch companion of mine recently asked, “What’s with you and the burgers?”
Here’s what’s with me and the burgers: No other single food I’ve had in San Diego has been so consistently delicious — or lived up to the hype surrounding it. Not the tacos, the doughnuts, the pho, the poke, the ramen, the sushi, the ice cream, the fried chicken, the barbecue, the pizza, and certainly not the pasta.
When a place shamelessly boasts “Best Burger in San Diego,” that’s not beefy bravado — to its legions of fervent fans, it does have the best burger in San Diego.
So, let the polarization resume, because we’re about to turn up the heat by asking who really makes the best burger in San Diego.
The answer: In-N-Out, of course, which is neck-and-neck with Five Guys. Period. End of that list.
But on the Best Burger From a Restaurant That’s Not a Fast Food Joint list? In the spirit of National Burger Day on Tuesday, below are my picks. And, yes, I’m prepared for a grilling.
Kairoa Brewing Co., University Heights: The new New Zealand spot tops its brioche-bunned Kiwi Burger with beet relish, cheddar, tomato chutney and fried egg. Hold the mustard but get the hot chips on the side.