Berkeley, California is a city known for its vibrant food scene. From gourmet cuisine to fast food joints, Berkeley has it all. But if you're in the mood for a classic American staple, the burger, then you're in for a treat. Berkeley boasts some of the best burger spots in the Bay Area, and we've rounded up the top 10 places you have to try.
Top 10 burger places to try in Berkeley
1. The Habit Burger Grill - with juicy beef and fresh ingredients, The Habit Burger Grill is a chain that has quickly become a local favorite.
2. Barney's Gourmet Hamburgers - this Berkeley establishment has been around since 1978 and is known for its handcrafted burgers and milkshakes.
3. Bongo Burger - a Berkeley institution since 1968, Bongo Burger serves up classic and affordable burgers with all your favorite toppings.
4. The Cheese Steak Shop - while not technically a burger joint, The Cheese Steak Shop's Philly-style cheese steaks are a delicious and unique take on the classic sandwich.
5. Super Duper Burgers - located in the bustling Telegraph Avenue, Super Duper Burgers offers high-quality burgers made with fresh ingredients and unique toppings.
6. Top Dog - a local hot dog and sausage spot that also serves up delicious grilled burgers.
7. Build Pizzeria Roma - yes, the name suggests that this is a pizza place, but their burger is one of the best in town - made with grass-fed beef and served with house-made pickles.
8. Victory Burger - a trendy spot with a focus on sustainable, locally-sourced ingredients and craft beer.
9. Comal - while primarily known for its upscale Mexican cuisine, Comal's burger is a must-try for burger aficionados.
10. Star Burger - tucked away in a small neighborhood, Star Burger offers classic burgers in a cozy diner atmosphere.
If you're looking for a unique twist on the classic burger, head to Phil's Sliders. This Berkeley spot offers a variety of mini burgers with creative toppings like truffle aioli and blue cheese. It's the perfect spot for sharing and trying a variety of flavors.
What makes a burger great – the Berkeley edition
So what makes a burger great, particularly in Berkeley? For one, the use of fresh, locally-sourced ingredients is key. Many of the burger spots in Berkeley pride themselves on using organic, grass-fed beef and artisanal buns. Unique toppings such as avocado, bacon jam, and truffle aioli take these burgers to another level.
But beyond just the ingredients, it's the attention to detail that separates a good burger from a great one. Cooking the patty to the perfect temperature, toasting the bun just right, and not overloading on toppings are all crucial aspects of making a mouth-watering burger.
In addition to the ingredients and attention to detail, the atmosphere of the burger spot can also contribute to the overall greatness of the burger. Many of the best burger places in Berkeley have a laid-back, casual vibe that adds to the enjoyment of the meal. Whether it's a cozy indoor setting or a sunny outdoor patio, the ambiance can make a big difference.
Another factor that can make a burger great in Berkeley is the availability of vegetarian and vegan options. With a large population of health-conscious and environmentally-aware individuals, many burger spots in Berkeley offer plant-based burger patties and creative veggie toppings that are just as delicious as their meat counterparts.
The history of burgers in Berkeley
The history of burgers in Berkeley dates back several decades, with many institutions such as Bongo Burger and Barney's Gourmet Hamburgers having been around since the 1970s. These restaurants paved the way for the burger scene in Berkeley, and today, new spots continue to innovate and add their own twists on the classic dish.
One notable addition to the Berkeley burger scene is the rise of plant-based options. Restaurants such as Impossible Burger and Veggie Grill have gained popularity in recent years, offering meatless burgers that are just as satisfying as their beef counterparts. This shift towards more sustainable and ethical food choices reflects the values of the Berkeley community and its commitment to environmentalism.
How to judge a good burger – tips and tricks from top chefs
So how do you judge a good burger? We asked some top chefs in Berkeley for their tips and tricks. Chef Chris Kronner of KronnerBurger says that temperature is key - "The patty has to be cooked medium rare, pink in the center, with a good char on the outside," he says. Chef Michael Mauschbaugh of Comal adds that "the bun-to-meat ratio is important - you don't want a bun that's too big or too small." Finally, Chef John Fink of The Whole Beast suggests paying attention to the quality of the beef - "it should be aged, flavorful, and have plenty of fat content."
Another important factor to consider when judging a good burger is the toppings. Chef Sarah Kirnon of Miss Ollie's emphasizes the importance of fresh, high-quality toppings that complement the flavors of the burger. "You want toppings that add to the overall experience, not overpower it," she says. Chef Tanya Holland of Brown Sugar Kitchen agrees, adding that the toppings should be balanced and not too heavy.
Additionally, the texture of the burger is crucial. Chef James Syhabout of Hawker Fare suggests looking for a burger that has a good crust on the outside and is juicy on the inside. "You want a burger that has a nice sear and a juicy center, without being too greasy," he says. Chef Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn adds that the texture of the bun is also important - "it should be soft and slightly toasted, with a bit of give when you bite into it."
The ultimate guide to ordering a burger in Berkeley
When ordering a burger in Berkeley, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, don't be afraid to ask questions about the ingredients. Many of the burger joints in Berkeley offer unique or specialty toppings, so don't hesitate to ask for recommendations or substitutions. Additionally, be mindful of the cooking temperature - most burgers are cooked medium unless otherwise specified. Finally, consider adding on a side of fries or a milkshake to truly complete the meal.
Another important factor to consider when ordering a burger in Berkeley is the type of meat used. Some burger joints offer grass-fed or organic beef options, while others may have vegetarian or vegan patties available. It's important to know what options are available and to choose a patty that aligns with your dietary preferences and values. Additionally, some burger places may offer gluten-free buns or lettuce wraps as an alternative to traditional buns, so be sure to ask about those options as well.
Vegan and vegetarian burger options in Berkeley – where to find them
While Berkeley is known for its meat-centric cuisine, there are plenty of options for vegans and vegetarians as well. Victory Burger offers a delicious veggie burger made with mushrooms and lentils, while Super Duper Burgers has a plant-based burger that's just as satisfying as their beef options. Saturn Cafe is another popular spot for vegetarian burgers, with their signature Saturn Burger made with a house-made veggie patty and all the fixings.
For those looking for a more upscale dining experience, Comal offers a vegan burger made with a black bean and quinoa patty, topped with avocado and salsa verde. The restaurant also sources their ingredients locally and uses sustainable practices in their kitchen.
If you're in the mood for something a little different, head to The Butcher's Son, a vegan deli that offers a variety of plant-based sandwiches, including a "meatball" sub made with lentil and mushroom balls. Their burgers are also a hit, with options like the "bacon" cheeseburger made with seitan and coconut bacon.
Beyond beef – exploring alternative meat options for burgers in Berkeley
While beef burgers are certainly king in Berkeley, there are also several spots that offer alternative meat options for those looking to switch things up. Top Dog offers grilled chicken and pork sausages that can be served in a bun, while The Cheese Steak Shop has a delicious Philly-style chicken cheesesteak. Finally, Build Pizzeria Roma has a flavorful lamb burger that's not to be missed.
Additionally, for those who prefer plant-based options, there are several restaurants in Berkeley that offer delicious veggie burgers. The Butcher's Son, a vegan deli, has a popular Beyond Burger that's made with a plant-based patty and served with all the classic burger fixings. Another great option is Saturn Cafe, which offers a variety of veggie burgers made with ingredients like black beans, quinoa, and sweet potato. Whether you're a meat-lover or a vegetarian, Berkeley has plenty of tasty burger options to choose from.
A student's guide to the best budget burgers in Berkeley
Being a student in Berkeley can be expensive, but there are plenty of great burger spots that won't break the bank. Bongo Burger and Top Dog offer affordable and tasty options, while the Dollar Menu at McDonald's is always a reliable choice. Additionally, many of the chains such as The Habit Burger Grill often have coupons and deals that can save you some cash.
Another great option for budget burgers in Berkeley is Barney's Gourmet Hamburgers. They offer a variety of burgers at reasonable prices, and their veggie burger is a popular choice among vegetarians. If you're looking for a unique twist on a classic burger, try out Victory Burger. Their burgers are made with locally sourced ingredients and they offer a variety of toppings to choose from.
Don't forget to check out food trucks and pop-up stands around campus for some delicious and affordable burgers. The Off the Grid food truck event that takes place every Wednesday on Sproul Plaza often features burger vendors with great deals. Keep an eye out for flyers and social media posts advertising other pop-up events around town.
The most Instagrammable burgers in Berkeley – perfect for foodies
For those looking to up their Instagram game, there are several burger spots in Berkeley that offer especially photogenic options. Barney's Gourmet Hamburgers serves up a giant burger called the "Big Barney" that's sure to impress, while Victory Burger's beet and grain burger is a colorful and unique option. Finally, Build Pizzeria Roma's lamb burger is not only delicious but also visually stunning with its vibrant green tzatziki sauce.
But the Instagrammable burger options in Berkeley don't stop there. If you're looking for a burger with a view, head to Skates on the Bay where you can enjoy their "Bay Burger" while taking in the stunning waterfront scenery. For those who prefer a plant-based option, The Butcher's Son offers a vegan "Bacon Cheeseburger" that looks and tastes just like the real thing.
And if you're feeling adventurous, head to Comal where they serve up a unique take on a burger with their "Taco Burger" – a juicy beef patty topped with guacamole, salsa, and queso fresco, all served on a house-made tortilla. No matter which burger spot you choose, you're sure to impress your followers with these Instagram-worthy options.
The science behind the perfect burger patty – secrets revealed by chefs in Berkeley
Creating the perfect patty is both an art and a science. Chefs in Berkeley know this well and have shared some of their secrets with us. Chef Gerardo Sosa of Star Burger stresses the importance of the meat-to-fat ratio - "you want a 70/30 mix, that's where you get the juiciest and most flavorful patty." Chef Chris Kronner of KronnerBurger emphasizes the need for consistency - "we measure our patties out to exactly 4 ounces each to ensure a consistent cook every time." Finally, Chef John Fink of The Whole Beast suggests grinding your own meat for maximum control over the texture and flavor.
Best burger and beer pairings in Berkeley – where to go for a perfect match
Nothing pairs better with a burger than an ice-cold beer. Many of the burger spots in Berkeley also offer an impressive selection of brews, making for a perfect combination. At Super Duper Burgers, try the Super Burger with a hoppy IPA, while Victory Burger's goat cheese burger pairs well with a crisp lager. Finally, KronnerBurger offers a rotating selection of craft beers that are carefully curated to complement the flavors of the burgers.
Meet the chefs behind the best burgers in Berkeley – interviews with local legends
Behind every great burger is a talented chef, and Berkeley is home to some of the best in the game. We sat down with Chris Kronner of KronnerBurger, Michael Mauschbaugh of Comal, and Gerardo Sosa of Star Burger to learn more about their backgrounds and what makes their burgers so special.
How to make your own gourmet-style burger at home, inspired by the top spots in Berkeley
While nothing can quite compare to a freshly-made burger from your favorite restaurant, it's still possible to create a delicious and gourmet-style patty at home. Michael Mauschbaugh of Comal suggests adding in some chopped roasted poblano peppers to give your burger a spicy kick. Gerardo Sosa of Star Burger recommends seasoning the meat with a mixture of kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Finally, Chris Kronner of KronnerBurger emphasizes the importance of using high-quality ingredients such as grass-fed beef and artisanal buns.
The future of burgers – what we can expect from the evolving food scene in Berkeley
As the food scene in Berkeley continues to evolve, so too will the burger offerings. We can expect to see even more unique and locally-sourced ingredients being used, as well as a continued focus on sustainability and eco-friendliness. Additionally, with the rise of alternative meat options such as Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger, we may start to see even more diverse options for those looking for a meatless burger.
Whether you're in the mood for a classic cheeseburger or an innovative plant-based patty, Berkeley has something for everyone. With so many delicious spots to choose from, it's no wonder that the city has become a burger lover's paradise.