San Francisco, CA
Yes, Burger Joint is a bit outside Tournedos’ usual stomping grounds, but sometimes you can’t tie down a blog’s gastronomic ambitions like that. I’ve been meaning to stop by since I saw Burger Joint on a list of America’s best burgers, and this week I was hungry and in the Mission. It was clearly fate.
I had a cheeseburger and fries ($7.95), and a soda ($1.75). And I have to say, Burger Joint makes a damn tasty burger. The mark of a really good hamburger, I think, is that afterwards you sort of regret some of the toppings. Where condiments and other additions support and complement a merely adequate burger, they just distract from a really good one. In retrospect, the cheese was entirely unnecessary; the ketchup was probably dispensable. I think Burger Joint hits the mark with their use of mayonnaise, though — just enough to form a bulwark against soggy bun. They use good lettuce and tomato, but they aren’t necessary. I think I’d keep the red onion, though; it adds some crunch and some zing. But of course, the point of the hamburger is the meat. Burger Joint uses Niman Ranch beef, that talismanic meat, and they have a good touch with the grill. The burger is juicy without being oozy, and full of that elemental heft that is the hallmark of good beef, coppery and savory. (I’m tempted to say umami, but that’s a little overplayed, I think.) The patty was loose enough to avoid the dense rubbery quality of some oversquashed burgers, but held together throughout the whole meal. As I say, a damn tasty burger.
Their fries are pretty good, too — thick, square, crispy, and so fresh that the first few were really a bit too hot to eat. Not worth a separate trip, I think, but they come with the burger, so hey. My only complaint is that $1.75 for a soda is a bit on the excessive side. And, based on my recollection of a previous trip, I can’t really recommend the milkshakes.