This March, Anthony Myint helped open the hotly anticipated Mission Bowling Club in its namesake San Francisco neighborhood. One of the reasons it was so buzzed-about: the restaurant featured the reappearance of the Mission Burger, the burger that made Burger Lab correspondent Kenji Lopez-Alt feel like a burger virgin, the one he called "the future of the Modernist cuisine movement," and the burger that was no longer available in its former location (Myint co-founded the now-closed Mission Burger with Mission Chinese Food chef Danny Bowien). Myint is known for many things—as a pioneer in the charitable restaurant business, a cookbook author, and an influential chef—but his burger might just be his crowning achievement. He's a little shy about its $14 price tag (only $10 at happy hour!), so when we asked for his top five burgers in the city, he named a range.
For Anthony Myint's favorite San Francisco burgers between $3 and $13, read on.
1. Broken Record serves hands-down my favorite burger in the city. The chef, James Moisey, has a fine-dining background and makes really satisfying food in the back of a very out-of-the-way, cool dive bar with a wall of different whiskeys. The burger is so good it's not really fair, which is code for: they grind bacon (or bacon fat) into it. One of the former co-chefs is a super-talented baker and she worked with a local bakery to get buns made to her specifications. They are the perfect mix of softness and structure.
1166 Geneva Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94112(map); 415-963-1713; brokenrecordsanfrancisco.com
2. NOPA's burger, which is $13 with fries, is a reliable, high-end burger. It's like saying a BMW is a good car. Note: I have been meaning to try the burger at Marlowe, which I suspect could contend for this niche.
560 Divisadero Street, San Francisco CA 94117(map); 415-864-8643; nopasf.com
3. Not really a surprise here, but for $3, In-N-Out's Double Double is unbeatable. Bonus points because I love watching the staff work. An unassuming chubby teenage girl is cranking out burgers and showing off her moves while a skinny dude who's never even had a beer is twirling fry baskets like he's on the rifle squad. It's basically food service utopia, where everyone's cheerful and well-paid with full dental coverage. It would be my #2 burger in a heartbeat based on value, except the fries are piss poor and they don't offer mayo, so I have to walk around with condiments in my pocket.
333 Jefferson Street San Francisco, CA 94133 (map); 800-786-1000; in-n-out.com
4. I grew up eating at Fuddruckers. It's a nice mid-range burger that you can get in different weights, like 1/3-pound, 1/2-pound, 2/3-pound, etc. It's fresh-ground, handled delicately enough that it's pretty tender, and cooked to temperature, with a decent bun. I am appalled that so many bars and restaurants are selling $10 burgers that are not even close. What really gets me is the fixin's bar, which in my greedy worldview means salad bar. They have shredded iceberg lettuce, pico de gallo, and ranch dressing available upon request. The reason it's only #4 is that it's not available in the city, just the suburbs.
Various locations; fuddruckers.com
5. Crown Burgers is super old-school and the kitchen is just a German lady standing next to a griddle-island. The quality of the "burger" is not remarkable, but the sheer audacity of the sandwich deserves a mention. "Burger" is in quotes here, because the Dagwood is a ground beef patty with cheese, a "slice" of ham, bacon, a fried egg, and an entire hot link, split lengthwise. "Slice" of ham is in quotes because it is not a deli slice, but bordering on one of those ham steaks—definitely thicker than Canadian bacon. It's not for purists or snobs, or really, anyone leading an active lifestyle.
4000 Third St., San Francisco CA 94124(map); yelp.com/biz/crown-burgers-san-francisco