Chef Michael Mina's Bay Area-based start-up website, Cook Taste Eat, delivers approachable, inspiring culinary instructional videos (co-hosted with singer Michelle Branch, and featuring a bevy of his top chef friends) into the inboxes of home cooks everywhere. Anyone living near one of the celebrity chef's many restaurants (four in San Francisco, at our last count) can taste Cook Taste Eat's featured weekly menu firsthand before attempting to recreate the recipes at home.
Although he has restaurants all over the country, he's chosen the Bay Area as a home base to grow his website and to keep close to some of the burgers he loves best. And he knows beef—carnivores should check out his new on-demand guide to cooking the perfect steak. "I love the burgers at RN74 and Bourbon Steak, they're absolutely amazing!" he says. "But to remain unbiased, here are my five favorites from other restaurants."
1. Ryan Farr is a butcher's butcher and has been serving great burgers at 4505 Meats at the Ferry Terminal Plaza Farmers' Market for quite some time now. Some might find the burger smaller than the others, but it packs on the flavor, topping a custom grind with classic melted Gruyère, and everything comes together.
1 Sausalito, San Francisco Ferry Building, San Francisco CA 94111 (map); 415-255-3094; 4505meats.com/farmersmarket
2. David Bazirgan really knows how to engineer the grind on the meat that goes into what is the Fifth Floor burger. It's a great mix of short rib, chuck, and amply marbled skirt steak. The caramelized onion with Comte cheese combination makes Baz's burger memorable.
12 4th Street, San Francisco CA 94103 (map); 415-348-1555; fifthfloorrestaurant.com
3. Spruce is a fave of many a burger lover in town and I can see why. The bun doesn't get in the way, they offer tons of choices for customization, and they do their own aioli.
3640 Sacramento Street, San Francisco CA 94118(map); 415-931-5100; sprucesf.com
4. NOPA's burger is flame-licked live-fire flavor. Since it's such a chubby patty, it's fine without cheese! The glazed brioche bun is just right, too. I love the atmosphere quite a bit.
560 Divisadero Street, San Francisco CA 94117(map); 415-864-8643; nopasf.com
5. It's no accident how successful In-N-Out Burger is, because they are wonderfully consistent. We always go double double. I know about the secret menu, and the kids and I love the animal fries.
333 Jefferson Street San Francisco, CA 94133 (map); 800-786-1000; in-n-out.com