Location: Ferry Terminal Building (northwest corner), San Francisco [map]
Getting There: BART to Embarcadero Station or by various streetcar and bus lines
The Short Order: I really wanted to like this place, but the burger was disappointing. (Think of it as the Whole Foods version of a BK Whopper)
You Want Fries With That? You don't, if mine were indicative of the typical quality. They were so overdone as to be fry-shaped potato chips. CRUNCH! (Ow! My teeth!) The onion rings were no better -- burned and overly greasy (see photo below)
Taylor's Automatic Refresher. The name alone is magical. It conjures up nostalgia, real or imagined, for Atomic Age burger joints or for the bygone automats of New York and Philadelphia. And I can't help thinking of the R.E.M. album Automatic for the People, which jolts my mind's jukebox into a loop of jangly college-rock ditties by Michael Stipe & Co.
The place came highly recommended by several commenters on AHT. And so, last Tuesday, before our scheduled ferry to Alcatraz Island, the Hamburgirl and I found ourselves at San Francisco's Ferry Terminal Building, where Taylor's had recently opened a second location (the first is north of the city in the Napa Valley town of Saint Helena).
The building's clocktower rang noon and we were worried about missing our prison ship as we took our place in a long, long line of shiny happy people (right). "Look at this crowd!" I said. "It's like the Shake Shack of San Francisco. I hope it's as good."
Famous last words. Both our burgers were disappointing, despite all indications to the contrary. Made from all-natural, hormone-free, grain-fed Angus beef from California, coupled with the famously fresh produce the state is known for, how could you go wrong?
Long story short, my cheeseburger (topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and secret sauce on a toasted egg bun; $6.49) tasted like the Whole Foods equivalent of a Whopper. That is to say, good (and good-for-you -- well, sorta) but nothing special. And, like a Whopper, which is often filled with limp lettuce, bland tomato, and a heaping dollop of oozing mayo, the Taylor's cheeseburger was lacking in the vital crunch-contrast department. This bun had been toasted? Really? ... If I'm in California, then why aren't the veggies crisp and refreshing? ... Where's the zing to the special sauce?
The only thing redeeming was that the patty (about six ounces, ground to a medium-fine grind) had a strong beefy flavor to it -- again, akin to the Whopper's, but not derived through the miracle of modern chemistry. But that wasn't enough, given the price and the Shoulda Been Better factor. It really left me longing for the In-N-Out Double Double I'd had the day before.
And so the girl and I wolfed down our burgers (more due to time constraints than deliciousness), practically ignored our fries and onion rings (both overdone), and then hightailed it like bandits to get into the prison.
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