With 70 miles of coastline, it's not surprising that freshly caught fish and seafood figure prominently into most menus. So how do burgers fit in? Health conscious San Diegans are drawn to restaurants with organic grass-fed humanely raised beef and other pastured animals, which has led to a wealth of burger restaurants of all kinds from neighborhood joints to gourmet burger kitchens.
1.Bankers Hill Bar and Restaurant
© Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant
Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant was established in 2010 by restaurateurs Carl Schroeder, a James Beard Award nominee, and Terryl Gavre, former food editor of the San Diego Metropolitan Magazine and regular on the Food Network.
After striking up a friendship in 2006, they pooled their vast experience to create the New American-style menu featured at their upscale farmhouse inspired restaurant. Guests can indulge in a juicy half-pound burger topped with aged white cheddar, pickled red onions, and tomato and served with crispy skinny fries. Delectable house-made sides like their parmesan truffle fries and lemon pepper potato chips are other complements to their burger.
2202 4th Avenue, San Diego, CA, Phone: 619-231-0222
2.Burger Lounge (La Jolla)
© Burger Lounge (La Jolla)
The Burger Lounge was founded on the idea that hamburgers should do more than taste delicious, they should also use healthy ingredients sourced from a sustainable environment. They do this by utilizing 100% fresh, single-source, grass-fed beef, and organic ingredients from local small farms.
Visitors dive into hand-crafted burgers like The Husky – double beef topped with double American cheese, fresh veggies, and 1000-island dressing. Diners can order sides of fresh cut fries, house-made onion rings, or half and half. Other menu highlights include a Quinoa Veggie Burger, Alaskan Cod and Free-Range Turkey sandwiches, and seasonal items like their Grass-Fed Bison Burger.
1101 Wall Street, La Jolla, CA, Phone: 858-456-0196
© Crazee Burger
Crazee Burger is a quaint burger joint in San Diego's ultra-hip North Park neighborhood. Customers here chow down on delicious burgers and sip local craft beers in a bright and airy ambiance. Guests can order signature burgers from grass-fed Angus beef like the Muddy Pig, which is topped with Nutella spread, crispy bacon, and caramelized plantains.
The menu includes various exotic meat burgers for the more adventurous palate such as gator, camel, elk, duck, wild boar, and elk to name a few of them. Crazee Burger also serves sandwiches, sliders, sausages, soups, and salads. Sides include chili, sweet potato fries, and Frings.
3993 30th Street, San Diego, CA, Phone: 619-282-6044
Hodad's is on the main drag of San Diego's bohemian/surfer Ocean Beach neighborhood. The 40-year-old family business is the self-described home of the best burgers in the world. The restaurant has garnered wide attention for its uber-popular burgers with features on television programs like Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, the Food Network, and CNN.
Their menu is dominated by stacked, large-and-in-charge burgers made with the freshest ingredients. Diners often have to wait in a line down the block before getting one in hand. The menu caters to lighter appetites with mini and single burgers too, along with a veggie burger and a few other sandwiches.
5010 Newport Avenue, Ocean Beach, CA
© Jayne's Gastropub
Liverpool native and San Francisco transplant Jayne Battle created Jayne's Gastropub. She set out to create an eatery reminiscent of British pubs with an upscale food menu. Jayne's sits on the edge of two vibrant San Diego neighborhoods – North Park and University Heights.
Between Jayne's extensive restaurant background and her husband's design and construction expertise, they created a charming space that features custom millwork, a mosaic tile floor, a 1920s tin ceiling, and a zinc bar. The American pub menu is peppered with English classics like shepherd's pie and fish and chips. The signature Jayne Burger is topped with Vermont cheddar, house-pickled onion, and aioli.
4677 30th Street, San Diego, CA, Phone: 619-563-1011
6.Best Burgers in San Diego: Neighborhood
Neighborhood is a gastropub pioneer in San Diego's East Village neighborhood. They are dedicated to using locally sourced ingredients and serving quality craft beer. This neighborhood hot spot features an eclectic menu of small plates, greens, pub selections, and of course signature burgers.
Smalls such as Fried Dill Pickle Chips, Jalapeno Mac ‘N' Cheese, and Truffle Fries pair perfectly with signature burgers like the Hood Burger, topped with gruyere and blue cheese, caramelized onions, and arugula. Diners won't find catsup here. Instead, they offer ten house-made sauces made to complement their burgers. They have twenty-eight beers on tap, and thirty-two bottled beers.
777 G Street, San Diego, CA, Phone: 619-446-0002
7.Nine-Ten Restaurant and Bar
© Nine-Ten Restaurant and Bar
Nine-Ten Restaurant and Bar is located on prominent Prospect Street in the upscale La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego. The restaurant strikes a balance between swank and grace with rich mahogany wood, high ceilings, white table linens, an outdoor terrace, and a sidewalk patio.
Much of the California menu is determined by daily visits to local artisan produce providers, including Chino Farms and Crows Pass, and by the fresh fish of the day. What doesn't change is the NINE-TEN Burger, an incredible half-pound burger made from grass-fed Angus beef and topped with house-made pickles, tomato, butter lettuce, and mustard-seed aioli on a brioche bun. Skinny fries can be upgraded to truffle fries.
910 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA, Phone: 858-964-5400
8.Rocky's Crown Pub
© Rocky's Crown Pub
Rocky's Crown Pub in San Diego's Pacific Beach neighborhood is the definition of a local spot. The modest pub with a rustic cedar wood interior features a five-item menu written on a chalk board, flat screen TVs with sports programming, and nostalgia-inducing SoCal memorabilia. It's friendly, relaxed, and unpretentious.
The straightforward menu includes one-third pound burgers with or without cheese, half-pound burgers with or without cheese, and a basket of fries. Each burger is topped with the standard lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, and mayo. French fries come unseasoned and deep-fried to golden brown perfection. Rocky's serves about a dozen beers, including a few local brews.
3786 Ingraham Street, San Diego, CA, Phone: 858-273-9140
9.Best Burgers in San Diego: Slaters 50/50
© Slaters 50/50
SoCal native Scott Slater founded Slaters 50/50 in 2009. His intense passion for bacon, burgers, and craft beer led to the creation of the 50/50 patty, made with 50% ground bacon and 50% ground beef. The next step was to overload these juicy burgers with a pile of inventive toppings.
The Original 50/50 is piled high with pepper jack, avocado mash, chipotle adobo mayo, and a sunny-side up egg. Other designed burgers range from a California Burrito Burger to a Peanut Butter & Jeallousy Burger. Diners can create their own burgers with what the restaurant calls "excesstacy" from an expansive menu of ingredients. Burgers are paired with craft beers.
2750 Dewey Road, #193, San Diego, CA, Phone: 619-398-2600
10.Carnitas Snack Shack
© Carnitas Snack Shack
San Diego local Chef Hanis Cavin and Illinois transplant Sara Stroud opened Carnitas Snack Shack, better known as the "SnackShack," in the hipster neighborhood of North Park in 2011. Their savory dishes start with slow-cooked meats used to create an American-focused menu with south-of-the-border influences.
The simple snack-style menu features hearty choices created with locally-sourced ingredients like the Triple Threat Pork Sandwich, Fried Chicken Sandwich, and Carnitas Tacos or Torta. Their signature SnackShack Burger is a fan-favorite topped with lettuce, tomato, white cheddar, bacon jam, and house-aioli, paired with seasoned fires, and served with a side of bacon-ketchup.
2632 University Avenue, San Diego, CA, Phone: 619-294-PORK
Starlite restaurant is a modern 21-and-over eatery on popular India Street in Mission Hills. The custom interior design features strictly natural elements, just like the hand-made selections on their menu. Since opening in 2007, they've served "slow food" – a concept of dishes made from seasonal, natural, local, sustainable ingredients.
While the menu changes throughout the year, their house-burger remains a mainstay. It's an eight-ounce Brandt beef patty topped with gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, house-made pickles, and dijonaise, and it is served with a side of fresh-cut fries. In addition, guests will find everything from Mac & Cheese to Muscovy Duck Confit Salad on the menu.
3175 India Street, San Diego, CA, Phone: 619-358-9766
12.The Habit Burger Grill
© The Habit Burger Grill
The Habit Burger Grill made its mark in 1969 with the opening of a single restaurant in Santa Barbara, California. Decades later they've expanded the reach of their juicy charbroiled burgers and beach inspired recipes throughout the state. Guests to San Diego can get caught in "the habit" at their Mission Valley location.
The simple burger menu includes six kinds of charburgers made from 100% fresh ground beef, topped with crisp lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, mayo, and pickles. All are served with hand-cut fries. Consumer Reports calls The Habit Burger the best tasting burger in America. The restaurant also serves sandwiches, salads, sides, kids' meals, and handmade frozen treats.
845 Camino De La Reina, San Diego, CA, Phone: 619-299-9913
Eureka! opened in 2009 in San Diego's upscale La Jolla neighborhood. Ever since, they've been dedicated to using only locally-sourced ingredients to create their collection of fabulous dishes. Diners will be entertained by a vibrant ambiance with handpicked house music and televisions buzzing with sporting events.
Their self-described "elevated" burgers are creatively named and loaded with unique toppings. The Vodka Burger is topped with Havarti cheese, onion, prosciutto, peppers, tomatoes, capers, and garlic flambeed in vodka. Innovative burgers can be paired with equally imaginative sides including panko crusted onion rings, sweet honey cinnamon potato fries, and Pacific coleslaw.
4353 La Jolla Village Drive, San Diego, Phone: 858-210-3444
14.Best Burgers in San Diego: Waterfront Bar & Grill
© Waterfront Bar & Grill
Waterfront Bar & Grill is the oldest tavern in San Diego and has been serving up delicious SoCal eats since the early 1930s – just after prohibition ended. This family-owned-and-operated restaurant tells the tale of its history with an impressive collection of photos and a lively atmosphere.
Their delectable offerings include American classics and Mexican staples. Guests can savor everything from tacos to grilled cheese sandwiches, and of course a juicy burger or two. The Waterfront is their signature house burger that starts with a quarter pound of beef topped with grilled onion, tomato, greens, pickles, and choice of cheese with a side of fries, tots, or rings.
2044 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego, CA, Phone: 619-232-9656
15.Anny's Fine Burger
© Anny's Fine Burger
Anny's Fine Burger is a family-owned-and-operated restaurant in Kearny Mesa, serving an innovative menu of fresh ingredients and premium meats. Their certified grass-fed 100% Angus beef is ground fresh every morning, lightly seasoned, and topped with only the finest locally-sourced ingredients.
The menu includes over thirty-five gourmet burgers – all half-pounders, including their Hangover Burger topped with battered potato, crisp bacon, and fried egg. There are eight types of foot long hot dogs and six styles of wings, which can be paired with their homemade sauces and dressings. As a bonus, every burger can be replaced with a chicken, fish, turkey, or garden patty to accommodate all diets.
5375 Kearny Villa Road, San Diego, CA, Phone: 858-278-0618
16.Bare Back Grill
© Bare Back Grill
Bare Back Grill was inspired by a surf trip the owner took to New Zealand where he fell in love with dishes made of fresh, local ingredients. He first opened Bare Back Grill in 2005 in the laid-back surfer community of Pacific Beach.
The menu of American-style fare highlights burgers from grass-fed beef, ground fresh and handmade daily, then sandwiched between organic buns pulled straight from the oven each morning. Diners can choose from a wide variety of innovative burgers like the Bare, Big & Dirty – two huge beef patties, fried eggs, thick slices of cheese, beetroot, lettuce, tomatoes, and red onion. Finally, it's topped with homemade sweet tomato chutney and garlic aioli.
4640 Mission Boulevard, San Diego, CA, Phone: 858-274-7117
© Boomerangs Burgers
Boomerangs Burgers is the local burger joint of the Clairemont neighborhood, a dream realized by owners Bruce and Jose. The duo created a menu of traditional American food, including chicken wings, signature sandwiches, and classic mains with a twist like their Three Alarm Meatloaf.
With a spotlight on burgers, they only use quality ingredients starting with their grass-fed, 100% Angus beef patties, and ending with their locally-sourced toppings. First timers are encouraged to try out the house favorite, the Bad Breath Burger, which is stuffed and encrusted with garlic, smeared with fresh horseradish, garlic horseradish mayo, and topped with grilled onions and gorgonzola cheese. More Things to do in San Diego
4577 Clairemont Drive, San Diego, CA, Phone: 858-483-9500
18.Bruski Burgers and Brew
© Bruski Burgers and Brew
Bruski Burgers and Brew set out to create a neighborhood bar and restaurant in Poway where "everybody knows your name." Their specialty is chef prepared gourmet burgers, sandwiches, and paninis served in a relaxed and friendly eatery.
The menu presents seventeen half-pound gourmet burgers like the Kimchi Bacon Burger with kimchi, bacon, pepper jack cheese, and chipotle aioli sauce, or the SOB (south of the border) Burger with avocado, pico de gallo, lettuce, queso fresco, and chipotle aioli sauce. For those who prefer their burgers unfussy, there's the Plain Jane with nothing but beef. Bruski is proud to serve twenty-four craft beers from renowned local brewers.
9844 Hibert Street, San Diego, CA, Phone: 858-530-2739
19.Best Burgers in San Diego: Bunz
Bunz replaced the Rossman family's previous restaurant that operated on popular Hotel Circle in Mission Valley for 30 years. The new restaurant's concept is all natural, all organic, all delicious. Their natural beef burgers are made from 100% premium Meyers Angus beef topped with Crow's Pass organic farm fresh veggies. Here, patrons choose their bun, their patty, and then the style of gourmet burger they want.
Their Who's Ur Daddy has two beef patties with pickled jalapeños, gorgonzola cheese, grilled onion, coleslaw, garlic fries, and chipotle aioli. There are nine other gourmet burgers, including the All American Classic for the diner who prefers no frills.
475 Hotel Circle South, San Diego, CA, Phone: 619-298-6515
20.Cali 'O' Burgers
© Cali 'O' Burgers
Cali "O" Burgers is located in San Diego's trendy Hillcrest neighborhood. This is where you go if you like your food organic and prepared from scratch. Burgers come from organic, grass-fed beef, pastured chicken, bison, ostrich, and elk. The produce is organic and locally sourced while the bread is made fresh daily.
The sauces, dressing, and aioli are house-made, and even the shakes are made with organic ice cream and milk. There are eleven styles of flame grilled, grass-fed burgers and nine specialty burgers. Sides include thick-cut curly fries, herb parmesan fries, sweet potato fires, batter-fried onion petals, and tater tots. Cali "O" offers a large selection of local craft beers too.
1290 University Avenue, San Diego, CA, Phone: 619-692-9999
21.Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers
© Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers
Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers is a neighborhood burger joint in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. Their burger-centric menu features over twenty signature hand-crafted burgers cooked to order with selections like Jucy Lucy with a cheddar-jack stuffed beef patty, lettuce, tomato, and pickle, and the Hangover with jack cheese, bacon, caramelized onion, grilled tomato, and egg.
Their half-pound burgers are served with house-made potato chips. There is a build your own burger on the menu and a make any burger a pounder option as well. They also serve salads, premium hot dogs, and specialty sandwiches. There are forty beers on tap and over 100 bottled and canned beers available.
322 5th Avenue, San Diego, CA, Phone: 619-546-9292
22.Raglan Public House
© Raglan Public House
Raglan Public House is a casual pub-style burger joint in San Diego's bohemian Ocean Beach neighborhood. Inspired by the co-owners' trip to Raglan, New Zealand, the laid-back surfer haunt became an instant local favorite. Their signature burgers are made from grass-fed beef topped with locally sourced veggies and house-made sauces, and they are served on freshly baked organic buns.
Burgers come in about a dozen different formations. Sides include three kinds of fries – sweet potato, matchstick, and fatty, which can be turned into chili cheese fries. Other menu items include a variety specialty sandwiches, and there are several vegetarian options. They have a large selection of local craft brews.
1851 Bacon Street, San Diego, CA, Phone: 619-794-2304
23.San Diego Burger Co.
© San Diego Burger Co.
San Diego Burger Co. is located in Seaport Village, a waterfront shopping village of independent shops and restaurants in the Marina District on San Diego Bay. The menu at this casual restaurant is simple with seven all beef burgers, including a kids' cheeseburger and a 1/3-pound ground sirloin burger.
Other burgers – using the term loosely – include chicken, turkey, garden, buffalo, and fish. There are five styles of fries, from sweet potato fries to jalapeño cheese fries, plus onion rings and cheese nachos to complement a favorite burger. Diners can pair burgers with domestic and imported bottled beer or tap beer by the cup or pitcher.
879 West Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA, Phone: 619-239-7901
STACKED is a concept restaurant where diners compile, or stack, their own choices from a list of flavorful ingredients in seven categories – buns, patties, cheeses, lettuces, sauces, toppings, and condiments – to create their own burgers. Beef burgers are made from 100% Angus Chuck and cooked to specification.
There are also signature burgers on the menu that can be ordered as is or customized according to taste. The thirteen available sauces are house-made. Guests can also build ice cream sandwiches, sundaes, and shakes with the same stacked concept.
STACKED was recognized as one of San Diego's Best 25 Hamburger Restaurants in 2016.
7007 Friars Road, Suite 356, San Diego, CA, Phone: 619-225-7900 (Fashion Valley Mall)
25.Station Tavern & Burgers
© Station Tavern & Burgers
Station Tavern is located in San Diego's hip South Park neighborhood. The family-friendly restaurant has a big backyard with picnic tables that encourage communal dining. The backyard also includes a kids' play area with a mini-trolley. If guests are inclined to bring the family dog out to eat, they're also welcome in the outdoor dining area.
It's no wonder Station Tavern was named "Best Restaurant for Hipster Parents" by San Diego Magazine. Their signature burger is 1/3-pound ground Angus Chuck with veggies on a toasted bun. On Thursdays, this burger is offered as a special and topped with herbed goat cheese. The restaurant serves other sandwiches and salads, including vegetarian options, and has a full bar.
2204 Fern Street, San Diego, CA, Phone: 619-255-0657
25 Best Burgers in San Diego, CA
- Bankers Hill Bar and Restaurant, Photo: Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant
- Burger Lounge (La Jolla), Photo: Burger Lounge (La Jolla)
- Crazee Burger, Photo: Crazee Burger
- Hodad's, Photo: Hodad's
- Jayne's Gastropub, Photo: Jayne's Gastropub
- Best Burgers in San Diego: Neighborhood, Photo: Neighborhood
- Nine-Ten Restaurant and Bar, Photo: Nine-Ten Restaurant and Bar
- Rocky's Crown Pub, Photo: Rocky's Crown Pub
- Best Burgers in San Diego: Slaters 50/50, Photo: Slaters 50/50
- Carnitas Snack Shack, Photo: Carnitas Snack Shack
- Starlite, Photo: Starlite
- The Habit Burger Grill, Photo: The Habit Burger Grill
- Eureka!, Photo: Eureka!
- Best Burgers in San Diego: Waterfront Bar & Grill, Photo: Waterfront Bar & Grill
- Anny's Fine Burger, Photo: Anny's Fine Burger
- Bare Back Grill, Photo: Bare Back Grill
- Boomerangs Burgers, Photo: Boomerangs Burgers
- Bruski Burgers and Brew, Photo: Bruski Burgers and Brew
- Best Burgers in San Diego: Bunz, Photo: Bunz
- Cali 'O' Burgers, Photo: Cali 'O' Burgers
- Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers, Photo: Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers
- Raglan Public House, Photo: Raglan Public House
- San Diego Burger Co., Photo: San Diego Burger Co.
- STACKED, Photo: STACKED
- Station Tavern & Burgers, Photo: Station Tavern & Burgers
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of gosphotodesign - Fotolia.com