7 healthy burgers in the San Francisco area

A handful of Bay Area chefs are reinventing fast food. Here's where you — low-carb dieters and vegetarians included — can find a quick, healthy meal

Weezy's burger basket and fries

Happiness in a basket: burgers and sweet potato fries at Weezy’s Grass Fed Shed in North Bay.

Alex Farnum

Click to Enlarge

Weezy's Burger Staff
Enlarge
Super Duper Burger
Enlarge
SliderBarCafe in South Bay
Enlarge

Where to find great burgers in and around San Francisco:

NORTH BAY

Weezy’s Grass Fed Shed 

“Slow food faster” is the motto at this charming San Rafael roadside shack, opened last fall.

  • What’s the beef? 1/8-pound Shed Burgers made with Prather Ranch beef.
  • Have it your way If your taste in burgers goes beyond the basics, pick a variation—the Contiki, say, with pine­apple and teriyaki sauce, or the White Trash, with American cheese, Thousand Island dressing, and iceberg lettuce.
  • On the side In addition to standard fries, Weezy’s serves a sweet potato version. Want both? Order a mixed fry combo.
  • Sweet finish Straus organic soft-serve ice cream. $; 621 Del Ganado Rd., San Rafael; 415/479-7433.

SAN FRANCISCO

Super Duper Burger 

This cute reinvention of an old-fashioned diner in the Castro may look like it’s all about the style, but Adriano Paganini, who also runs Starbelly and Beretta in San Francisco, is serious about his burgers.

  • What’s the beef? Thin patties of Niman Ranch beef. Order a double if that’s too thin for you.
  • On the side Grab a sharp, house-cured pickle spear at the condiment stand.
  • Sweet finish Straus soft-serve ice cream topped with housemade chocolate chip cookies and bacon. $; 2304 Market St., S.F.; 415/558-8123.

4505 Meats 

Ryan Farr once headed up the kitchen in a Michelin-starred restaurant, but ​he gave that up for a farmers’ market stand that promotes the love of hot dogs and what he—and ​a whole lot of other people—calls the Best Damn Cheeseburger.

  • What’s the beef? Every month, Farr buys a whole grass-fed steer from Magruder Grass-Fed Meats and dry ages the beef. His 1/4-pound patties are a blend of different cuts such as neck, short rib, and sirloin, depending on what Farr thinks is at its best.
  • A better bun Farr bakes his own, topped with sesame seeds, seasoned with scallions, and loaded with butter.
  • The big cheese A slice of dry jack from Sonoma’s Vella Cheese Company. $; Thu and Sat at Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, S.F.

Roam Artisan Burgers 

Who says a burger has to be made from beef? At this new spot, you can also get turkey, bison, or a housemade veggie version.

  • Back to the beef When they ask if you’d like your burger pink, say yes. The 100% grass-fed beef patties from Pacific Pastures are low in fat and turn tough quickly if cooked past medium-rare.
  • On the side Can’t decide between the russet fries, sweet potato fries, or zucchini onion haystack? Go for the Fry-Fecta and get all three.
  • Drink up With wines on tap, microbrews, sodas sweetened with agave, and milkshakes topped with brûléed marshmallows, this ​is no place to go thirsty. $$; 1785 Union St., S.F.; 415/440-7626.

EAST BAY

Flame Gourmet Burgers 

It’s easy to miss this un-­assuming storefront on Elmwood’s busy College Avenue, but that would be a shame. As the name says, these burgers are cooked over an open flame, which gives them an unmistakable smoke-kissed flavor.

  • What’s the beef? Grass-fed beef from cattle raised on local ranches.
  • For the vegetarians Ten variations of tofu and garden burgers, including one with sautéed spinach and feta cheese and a mushroom burger that features a giant portabella topped with fried onions.
  • And for the carbophobes Skip the bun and order the Burger Bowl. Your patty will arrive on a bed of romaine
  • or, if you prefer, a mix of spring lettuces. $; 2985 College Ave., Berkeley; 510/666-8500.

Trueburger 

Greg Eng and Jason Low cooked at some of San Francisco’s best-known restaurants, including Jardinière, Absinthe, and Delfina, but turns out what they really wanted to do was sell a great burger at an affordable price. And that’s exactly what they’ve accomplished at their spiffy Oakland diner.

  • What’s the beef? Angus beef ground fresh in the kitchen each morning.
  • A better bun A lightly toasted challah bun custom-baked at Berkeley’s Bread Workshop.
  • Secret sauce Their own aioli gives these burgers a gentle garlic kick.
  • Sweet finish Go old-school all the way and order a milkshake with mix-ins like marshmallows, caramel sauce, and peanut butter. $; closed Sun; 146 Grand Ave., Oakland; 510/208-5678.

SOUTH BAY

SliderBarCafe 

Earlier this year, a burger bar with a thing for healthy food elbowed its way into Palo Alto’s restaurant row. In the sleek, narrow space, mix-and-match platters of fist-size sliders come out fast and furious to the beat of the thumping music.

  • What’s the beef? Organic and hormone-free, of course. It’s Niman Ranch in the ​Classic, Masami Ranch in ​the Kobe Beef slider. We like ’em both.
  • Not really the beef type? Pick a veggie, chicken, or lamb slider instead.
  • Sip or swill With 18 wines on tap, you can pair a half-glass with each slider in your trio if you feel like it. $; 324 University Ave., Palo Alto; 650/322-7300. 

Jan Newberry is the food editor at San Francisco magazine.

Page 1

Advertisement

Insider Guides

Places We Love!
Enchantment Resort
For a most soothing Sedona experience, tuck yourself...