Burgers are big in San Diego. And when it comes to the best of the best, the results of our 2015 Burger Survey show a mix of tried-and-true favorites from local institutions alongside spunky newcomers from fancy restaurants. Regardless of style, all burgers featured on the list have a rabid loyal following. Read below for the 10 best burgers in San Diego as voted by you.
San Diego's favorite burger for the year comes from this Pacific Beach bar. Readers cite that the third- or half-pound burgers (with cheese or without) are "by far the best" in the city. And we couldn't agree more. Purists will appreciate the no-fuss approach incorporating a beefy grilled patty simply dressed with American cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickle. But go early and bring cash. Wait times for the "phenom burger" can be long but are "worth the wait."
Must-Order: Half-pound cheeseburger, $7.50
3786 Ingraham St.; 858-273-9140
Local and national attention has been garnered on this humble burger shop, an Ocean Beach original since 1969, which serves some of the best burgers in town. Even though there's now two locations including a food station at Petco Park, fans of the burger still line up during lunch and dinner for the eatery’s hefty offerings served with thick-sliced tomatoes, raw onions, crisp lettuce and lots of pickles. Pare it down to the essentials, add in bacon and you'll agree that it deserves a spot in the list.
Must-Order: Single bacon cheeseburger basket, $10.50
This upscale entry to the list features the only burger offering from chef Richard Blais' well-praised Little Italy project. The not-so-secret burger that's an homage to In-N-Out uses ground chuck formed into two patties (there's mustard cooked right in) and placed in a soft brioche bun. Its availability is limited to only a few every evening. Served with triple-cooked fries, one reader comments that it's "a solid burger all around with quality meat and ingredients."
Must-Order: In-N-Haute, $17
2228 Kettner Blvd.; 619-269-9036
Three locations in La Jolla, Del Mar and Little Italy ensure that you'll never be too far from this sublime burger that's also available gluten-free. Well-rounded flavors from caramelized onions, bacon, Gruyère and cheddar cheese with a fried egg on top don't overwhelm the eight-ounce ground chuck patty. It's served with a ton of crisp fries on the side, and you’ll find it on the menu for lunch and dinner.
Must-Order: WNL burger, $18.95
Known for its porcine pleasures like tacos and pork-belly appetizers, this hopping pork-centric hub with locations in North Park and Del Mar, plus a new roving food truck, does a mighty great burger too. Each sandwich features a grilled patty topped with aged white cheddar, aïoli, tomato, lettuce and the flavorful housemade bacon jam on a soft bun. One voters says it best: "Just the bomb!"
Must-Order: Shack Shack burger, $9.25
The classic approach works best and executive chef Jeff Jackson presents his take using Niman Ranch ground chuck for the hefty patty. The only thing competing with the burger — cradled in a soft seeded bun and topped with shredded iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and pickles, with lots of crisp fries on the side — is this La Jolla restaurant's view of the ocean. One voter comments, "Perfectly seasoned, juicy, cheese melted evenly and the bun is so fresh and delicious."
Must-Order: Drugstore-style hamburger, $15
11480 N. Torrey Pines Rd., La Jolla; 858-777-6641
As far as burgers go, voters agree this Southern California–based fast-food chain deserves a spot on the list for "consistently fresh, flavorful ingredients" that are also a "good value." The limited menu covers all the burger basics: hamburger, cheeseburger, fries, shakes and soda all prepped in an open kitchen using never-frozen meat, hand-leafed lettuce and fresh hand-cut fries.
Must-Order: Double-Double, $3.60
These totally legit burgers at this Little Italy "old-school" institution have been wowing locals for years. The signature burger is as straightforward as it gets and features a quarter-pound patty topped with grilled onions along with all the usual condiments and cheese of your choice.
Must-Order: Waterfront burger with cheese, $8.95
2044 Kettner Blvd.; 619-232-9656
Featured on the menu at this Little Italy and Del Mar Italian restaurant, the out-of-the-box burger includes some Italian influences that work to create a memorable and crave-worthy meal that’ll be hard to put down. The beef burger gets a helping of flavor with bacon jam, roasted tomatoes, arugula, roasted garlic mayo and lightly seared cheese curds on top.
Must-Order: Davanti burger, $15