4204 Voltaire Street, San Diego CA 92107 (map)
Cooking Method: Griddled
Short Order: Gourmet toppings like housemade aioli and Winchester gouda make this one of the best burgers in San Diego
Want Fries With That? You bet! Tasty thin-cut, golden brown duck fat fries come standard.
Price: CAB Natural Burger, $12
Covering the San Diego burger beat for AHT has easily quadrupled my regular burger consumption. Most burgers I've sampled have been somewhere between good and great, while a select few rise to a whole other level. I know a burger is truly exceptional when I can't get it out of my mind, even days after eating it, and writing the review fills me with longing. The CAB (Certified Angus Beef) Natural Burger from Sessions Public easily falls into the exceptional burger category.
A true fancy-pants burger, it features a 7-ounce certified Angus beef patty topped with aged gouda, arugula, tomato confit, pickled red onions, and a heady garlic aioli. The finished product is packed with strong and intense flavors designed to create maximum impact. Breath mints are highly recommended.
First-time restaurant owner Abel Kaase set out to create a classic burger with finely tuned details—and succeeded with flying colors. The harmonious burger is designed so that no ingredient outshines another—an impressive feat considering each individual topping is packed with flavor. Sweet ingredients like the tomato confit and the crunchy pickled red onions balance the more aggressive, potent flavors from the housemade garlic aioli and sharp Winchester aged gouda cheese. Even the greens—in this case, fresh arugula—are carefully chosen to compliment the flavor profile of the burger.
The hand-formed Angus beef patty was moist and tender, and thick enough to inspire a case of meat lust so strong that I immediately regretted agreeing to share it. I was hoping to see more pink in the center, but despite being cooked a shade past my requested medium rare, the 80/20 blend was plenty juicy. The patty had a lighter, more subtle beefiness that allowed the other ingredients to shine, and even though it was 7 ounces and topped with cheese and aioli, it didn't hit my stomach like a ton of bricks—a particularly good thing because "orange scented beignets with Mexican coco sauce" are on the dessert menu.
During our pre-dinner chat, Abel mentioned that he took care selecting the bun for the burger, ultimately choosing a sesame seed brioche bun from Con Pane, an artisanal bakery a few miles from the restaurant. The soft, slightly chewy bun was an excellent match for the thick and juicy patty, and held up well to the other ingredients. It was so good that when my constant dining companion asked for another bite, what he really wanted was more bun.
Session Public's duck fat fries are some of the most addictive spuds I've ever eaten. They have the ideal fry texture: light and full of potato fluff on the inside, with a thin, impeccably crisp outer skin. The housemade aioli is the perfect condiment, and such a good match with the fries that it was difficult not to double or triple dip each individual fry, so that every bite would be smeared with the creamy, garlicky goo. I had to push the plate to the center of the table to keep myself from swiping up the remaining aioli with my finger.
As burgers go, Session Public's is about the whole package: The beef itself is fairly mild, and it's the toppings, particularly the garlic aioli and the aged gouda, that make it a contender for the best burger in San Diego. But seriously—bring breath mints.
About the author: Erin Jackson is a freelance food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best cheap and tasty eats in San Diego, including all things sweet and sugary, for her just-hatched dessert blog San Diego Sugar.