2700 16th Street, San Francisco CA 94110 (map); 415-787-3354; dearmomsf.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: Thick, juicy, delicious burger—possibly the best bar burger in the Mission
Want Fries with That? Comes with twice fried square cut potatoes or a green salad; or for $6 get the papas, the same potatoes but covered in chili powder, cheese, aioli, lime, cilantro, and scallions
Price: The Burger, $12; w/sharp cheddar, +$1; w/fried egg, +$1; w/bacon, +$2
Notes: Open Mon. to Fri., 4 p.m. - last call.; Sat. and Sun., 11:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
I really appreciate the small things in life, like walking on the sunny side of the street, having all my socks match on laundry day, and being able to order great food at my local bar. The first two I sometimes struggle with, but the third is no problem. Lucky for me, the folks behind the FogCutter food truck have taken over the kitchen at one of my favorite local bars, Dear Mom.
The dark, cash-only bar filled with hipsters drinking tall can PBRs and shots of whiskey is typical of the Mission, but don't let this deter you. The kitchen in the back offers items like Sriracha buffalo chicken sandwiches, pork belly bao, and plenty of other options to soak up all the booze from the bar. That said, it would be easy to overlook something simply named "the burger" with all the other mouth-watering, colorful dishes on the menu. Don't.
The 1/2-pound burger ($12) comes sans-cheese, so make sure to pay the extra dollar for a generous topping of the extra sharp, aged white cheddar. Stock toppings are dill pickle relish from Sonoma Brinery, County Line little gem lettuce, and Dear Mom's special sauce. The patty is made of Golden Gate Meat's burger blend—an 80/20 mix of natural Angus beef—and it comes served on a Panorama Bakery "Hamburger American" bun.
Without being asked what doneness I wanted, my burger came out a beautiful medium-rare with the cheddar cheese perfectly melted on the grilled patty. My first bite was dominated by the generous portions of relish and sharp cheddar, but those flavors were soon replaced by the beefiness of the well charred and salted patty. The exceptionally juicy burger left me with the dilemma of having to choose between setting it down between each bite to keep it from dripping on my clothes, or eating like I normally would and risk getting covered in burger juice.
The soft, toasted, perfectly sized bun is basically a white bread bun with a golden, flaky exterior. Each side comes spread with a generous amount of Dear Mom's special sauce—a blend of dijonnaise and ketchup—that keeps the bun from disintegrating by providing a barrier between the bun and juicy patty. While the little gem lettuce was beautiful and crisp, when put up against the burger's other bolder flavors and textures it served little more purpose than to make the burger look pretty.
The burger comes served with twice-fried square cut potatoes or, if you request, a green salad. The potatoes are excellent on their own, but I would recommend ordering the papas ($6). Starting with the same base of twice-fried, salty and crispy on the outside, tender in the middle square cut potatoes, the papas are tossed in a mixture of chili powder, covered with aioli, and topped with cotija, cilantro, and lime juice. The result is reminiscent of the fully dressed elote (corn on the cob) you can find at street vendors across Mexico. While the chunks of potato are sometimes on the large side, the generous toppings ensure you never end up with a bite of naked potato. The salty-spicy-creamy-sour combination begs to be eaten long past the point of fullness.
Solid burgers, great sides, and plenty of other inventive menu items paired with a cheap bar with strong cocktails make Dear Mom an excellent contender for my favorite bar/food combo in the city. Whether it's for happy hour snacks or just soaking up the booze from a long night of drinking, I recommend you pay Dear Mom a visit.