We know what you’re thinking: you know exactly who has the best burger in San Diego. It’s funny, ask any of your friends who has the best burger in town and you’re almost guaranteed to get a different answer from every single one. That’s because, when it comes to naming the best, we can argue that we’re actually naming our favorites, because we’re talking about comfort food, and it’s personal. But even so, here is a list of what we deem to be pretty darn good burgers around San Diego. There’s even a few that may never have crossed your mind, except for on this list.
Harbor Town Pub
The Dub Town burger is formidable to look at. You’ll want to add cheese to this 2/3 pound charbroiled masterpiece that comes with grilled onions and house sauce in a baked-daily brioche bun. A relative to the Waterfront Bar, where burgers have sizzled since the 70s, Harbor Town’s impressive version does the family legacy proud.
1125 Rosecrans St., Point Loma. harbortownpub.com
If you’ve ever looked at a burger menu and wondered “who let the zoo out?” you can pretty much thank Crazee Burger, which debuted on 30th Street back in 2006 with a whole lot of wild proteins from kangaroo to ostrich and wild boar. No matter your stance on eating formerly cute critters for supper, all the burgers here are made just right.
Original location at 3993 30th St., North Park. crazeeburger.com
Common Theory Public House
A legitimately crazy burger awaits equally insane appetites at Common Theory Public House, where Waygu beef is country-fried then topped with sharp horseradish cheddar and charred green onions. Yeah, it’s over-the-top, but everyone should eat a fried burger at least once, right?
4805 Convoy St., Kearny Mesa. commontheorysd.com
Neighborhood Ale House
Not long before the burger craze officially hit in San Diego, a new kind of pub debuted in the still-seedy East Village. Arsalun Tafazoli’s gourmet burger and craft beer joint was ahead of its time and blew minds with combinations like their namesake burger pictured here, made with a blend of Brandt Beef, topped with Gruyere, blue cheese, caramelized onions and arugula. Ultimately, it’s the burger that launched an empire in Consortium Holdings, now infamous for banning ketchup at its restaurants.
777 G Street, East Village. neighborhoodsd.com
Lefty’s Chicago Pizza
The char burger is something of a Chicago specialty, and true to its name, comes nearly blackened with a thick crust from the smoldering grill. Go for the Char Cheddar option at Lefty’s; it comes with sinfully delicious pub cheese in the mix of shredded lettuce, onion and tomato. There’s nothing quite like this Windy City favorite in San Diego, so give it a go the next time you’re able to pass on all those slices in the pizza case.
3448 30th St., North Park. leftyspizza.com
Late night burgers and booze wasn’t always a stylish thing in San Diego. Starlite, which opened in 2007, remains one of the O.G. spots that ignited the trend. There’s no other way to eat this Brandt beef burger with gruyere, caramelized onions and Dijon aioli, all in a Con Pane sesame seed bun, than with a signature mule in hand at this open-till-midnight, Middletown gem.
3175 India St., Middletown. starlitesandiego.com
Ponce’s Mexican Restaurant
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Mexican-style burgers are in a league of their own in San Diego. Known for having a super-seasoned, crusty patty, thanks to being fried on the plancha alongside all the fixings for tacos, Ponce’s loaded torta version is the size of three burgers in one and comes topped with a whole chile relleno. Get it “Mexi-style” with guacamole, lettuce, tomato and a whole lot of mayo for around $8 with fries.
4050 Adams Ave., Kensington. poncesrestaurant.com
San Diego’s burger scene rocket launched to new heights after Guy Fieri paid a visit to Hodad’s back in 2008. Ever since, there’s been a line out the door at the original Ocean Beach location, where burgers too big to fit your mouth around have risen to national fame. It was a sad day in 2014 when its gregarious owner, Mike Hardin - affectionately known to locals as Bossman - passed away.
Original location at 5010 Newport Ave., Ocean Beach. hodadies.com
This San Diego-born chain has perfected all-American burgers with its slow-food ethos. Grass-fed beef and free-range turkey grace these classic tasting creations, as well as seasonal exotic meats, such as the Bison burger, available now. Though it gives off a fast-food vibe, Burger Lounge is far from it, with attentive service, consistently perfect burgers and delish salads, for those who can’t take the added guilt from a side of fries.
Multiple locations. burgerlounge.com