Editor's note: Please welcome Wes Rowe to A Hamburger Today! He's responsible for many of the beautiful photos on Serious Eats' San Francisco-based posts, but since he loves burgers, he's branching out into burger-reviewing territory. Expect more San Francisco burger reviews on AHT!
1020 Market Street, San Francisco CA 94102 (map); 415-558-9560, showdogsf.com
Cooking Method: Grilled
Short Order: Surprisingly good burger served at a sausage place that's worth braving one of the seedier parts of town
Want Fries with That? Skip the regular fries and try one of the 4 seasoned alternatives or just enjoy the complimentary housemade chips
Price: Burger, $8.75; cheese, +1; bacon, +$2; egg, +$2; fries, $3.25-$5
Notes: Happy hour 4-7p.m. , $4 all pints
Most San Franciscans will warn you that 6th and Market* is a place you generally want to avoid. Few good food options exist (aside from Tu Lan), and the ambiance of drugs being sold openly and streets that smell of piss is not ideal for a place with sidewalk seating. Now that Tu Lan has closed and may not re-open, I want to give you another reason to brave this ornery corner: the burger at Show Dogs.
The first time I noticed Show Dogs I wrote it off as another sausage place with a gimmicky name that probably wouldn't be as good as Rosamunde (home of another great burger). After recently finding out that Show Dogs was started by Foreign Cinema chefs Gayle Pirie and John Clark, whose burger I dearly love, I decided to venture down.
Disguised as a sausage place, Show Dogs is more of a seven-days-a-week diner with 12 sausage options including corn dogs and veggie dogs. They have a full breakfast menu every day, as well as your typical hot sandwich list: cheese steak, fried chicken, reuben, B.L.T, and pulled pork, in addition to a few non-traditional items.
There are two burger choices: the Elk burger, which comes with your choice of sunny side egg or house cured pastrami ($12.95), and the more traditional Show Burger ($8.75) which you can top with Swiss or cheddar ($1), bacon ($2), or egg ($2). Additionally, there are five types of fries, chili, onion rings and a pretty decent bottle and draft beer selection.
The new cook managed to impress me with his skills of the grill. The Show Burger's patty—a half pound of pre-pattied ground chuck from Golden Gate Meats—had a slight crust and nice grill markings, while leaving the center a rosy shade of pink. Served open face on a well toasted Acme organic pan de mie bun, the patty came set on a bed of fresh arugula and tomato and was topped with a generous amount of white cheddar.
The excitement I felt when seeing the 1.5 layers of cheese was quickly surpassed when I cut the burger in half revealing stratosphere of crusty brown to juicy pink meat speckled with bits of black pepper. The combination of the sharp cheese and well seasoned patty made my first bite a delicious mouthful of salty protein. It wasn't until the second bite that I noticed the peppery arugula and Show Dog's special sauce, which tasted similar to an aioli with lots garlic and lemon. The tomatoes were somewhat overpowered by all of the other flavors, but on the few bites I managed to taste them, they were fresh and ripe.
The burger came served with some of the most delicious homemade chips I have ever had alongside a burger. The thick and extra crispy fried potatoes were generously—but not overwhelmingly—seasoned with large flakes of sea salt, and another seasoning that tasted similar to Old Bay.
In addition a stellar burger, Show Dogs also has an impressive number of side options including onion rings, chili, salad, and several choices for fries. I opted for the green curry fries, ($4.50) which came in little hand-cut pieces, similar to In-N-Out fries, that were liberally coated in green curry spice mixture. The seasoning, which tasted predominantly of green chili and coriander, adhered nicely to the little fry pieces that begged to be dipped in the housemade serrano ketchup and eaten by the forkful. In fact, the spicy tangyness of the ketchup was so good I used the end of my burger to clean the excess off my plate. I'm not normally a ketchup-on-burgers guy, but the housemade stuff was so good I wanted to put it on everything.
Going in on a Tuesday at rush hour I expected the place to be busier—the street certainly was—but there were only two other guests. Outdoors there are eight tables that had the potential to be good seating, but were, frankly, tainted by a steady stream of stumbling and shouting people, followed by motorized sidewalk sweepers driving by only feet from the seats. Despite the location, Show Dogs proves to be a diamond in the rough intersection of 6th and Market.
About the author: Wes Rowe is a photographer and eater based in San Francisco who believes there is no such thing as too many burgers, and when given the opportunity, likes to spend the whole day smoking brisket.