Roam Artisan Burgers
1785 Union Street, San Francisco CA (map); 415-440-7626; roamburgers.com
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: A flavor-rich grass-fed beef patty on a fresh artisan bun. One of the tastiest burgers I've ever had
Want Fries With That? Absolutely—sweet potato fries with chipotle maple seasoning were excellent
Price: Classic Burger w/cheese, $5.99; sweet potato fries w/chipotle maple seasoning, $3.49; zucchini onion haystack, $2.99; blackberry soda, $2.49; pomegranate blueberry shake, $4.99
My three favorite discoveries in San Francisco were Bi-Rite Creamery, Tanguito, and eco-conscious restaurant Roam Artisan Burgers. With its simple, well prepared food, affordable prices, and modern and cozy atmosphere, Roam gracefully walks the line between fast food and a classy restaurant.
Roam offers seven different burgers with your choice of patty: grass-fed beef, free-range turkey, bison, or a house-made organic veggie. All of the meat comes from a select group of purveyors and is humanely raised on open pastures—in particular, the grass-fed beef patties come from Pacific Pastures Ranch and are ground fresh and pattied daily at Golden Gate Meats. Aside from the meat, tremendous care is put into every item: Fries are cooked in rice bran oil, pickles are made in house, sodas are sweetened with low-glycemic agave nectar, and nothing contains corn syrup or added trans-fats.
I kept it simple and ordered The Classic with cheese. The patty was cooked on a flat top griddle for maximum caramelization and served medium-rare with a light crust and a luscious pink center. The grass-fed beef had a slightly sweet, herbacious flavor and was fairly juicy despite being formed into a thin 1/4-pound patty. The beef was made even better with great toppings: picked-at-their-peak tomatoes, house-made pickles, sharp white cheddar, and a zippy house sauce.
The burger was served on a custom-made sesame seed bun from Pacific Coast Bakery that had just the right amount of substance and didn't overwhelm the beef. The texture of the soft and slightly squishy bread contrasted nicely with the generous coating of sesame seeds.
Roam's selection of sides include russet and sweet potato fries, a zucchini onion haystack, or a combo plate of all three. For an additional 50 cents you can also add seasoning like truffle Parmesan (made with real black truffles), lemon chive, or chipotle maple. Sweet potato fries with chipotle maple seasoning was a revelation. The seasoning is made with granulated maple sugar, high-quality chipotle powder, salt, and other spices, then tossed with pure maple syrup. When the warm fries are tossed in it, the glaze turns into a smoky-sweet candy coating. It was like eating dessert and a side dish at the same time.
The zucchini onion haystack was a little awkward to eat, but had a great crispy texture. Unfortunately for me, an onion-phobe, even the zucchini tasted like onion, so this was the only item I wasn't crazy about. Both the sweet potato fries and the haystack are fried in rice bran oil, which didn't overwhelm the natural flavor of the ingredients and gave both items a light and crispy texture.
Roam is also no slouch when it comes to beverage options. From their menu of local brews, wine on tap, house-made artisan sodas, and shakes, I chose blackberry soda and a pomegranate blueberry shake with a homemade bruléed marshmallow topper (made from brown rice syrup). Roam's mindful approach to food continues with their drinks: They sweeten their sodas with agave and make their shakes with Straus Family organic soft serve and house-made syrups. Both of my drinks burst with fresh fruit flavors and were an excellent way to add a touch of sweetness to the meal. A soda or shake is a must-order item at Roam.
Roam's attention to detail, meticulous preparation, and reasonable prices made me an instant fan.