Editor's Note: Jen Maiser is Serious Eats' San Francisco correspondent. While she usually brings us information about the latest offerings from local farmers' markets, she also has a penchant for eating burgers. Naturally. Here's her review of her favorite burger in San Francisco.
From the moment that Spruce opened a year ago, it has been packed with food-loving San Franciscans. The wait for a table can be weeks, and each night the Pacific Heights restaurant is full of tony masses who are shelling out top dollar for reportedly well-loved entrées and magnificent wines.
Frankly, I can't afford it.
But what I can afford is to sit at the bar and eat the best hamburger that I have ever eaten in San Francisco. Period.
The Spruce bar is a lovely, elegant place to eat dinner. Diners are given a choice of dishes from the main menu or the bar menu, the seats are comfortable, and the cocktails are terrific. My favorite cocktail right now is the East Side with Tanqueray No.10 Gin, cucumber, mint, and lime.
But to the burger.
To me, a great burger has a perfect bread-to-meat ratio and well seasoned meat that comes from a reputable source. The Spruce burger's bun is a buttered English muffin that is made in-house. Since it's on the thin side, the overall effect is not overly bready. The meat is from Niman Ranch and is ground on site. The burger is served plain or with cheese and is accompanied by a complex herbed aioli with capers, house-made zucchini pickles, tomatoes, and lettuce. You also get delicious fries that are fried in duck fat. Heaven.
The Spruce Burger is $14 and is only on the bar menu. Fend for yourself to get bar seating. Additionally, there are a few high bar tables available—I believe you check in with the hostess for those tables.