The Great Burger Hunt — Part 3

Welcome to the next installment of my hunt for the best burger in the bay area! In Part 2, Wes Burger ‘n’ More was winning due to their amazing tater tots and fairly decent burger. Are any of the next three places better? Due to some pretty solid recommendations, I checked out 4505 Burgers and BBQ, Garaje and Black Sands Brewery.

1. 4505 Burgers and BBQ

I was recommended 4505 Burgers and BBQ as they apparently have an amazing scallion bun. As they don’t take reservations, I headed over for an early lunch and got (in their words) the Best Damn Grass Fed Cheeseburger. I’m a sucker for egg and bacon on a burger, so I went ahead and added that as well. They have a huge selection of sides (probably due to it being a barbeque place), but I went traditional and got a side of fries. I’m not gonna lie, the burger looked fantastic when it came out, and the bun was definitely a tasty bun. Sadly, the meat itself was a bit bland and seemed underseasoned. The addition of the ketchup and homemade barbeque sauces that were on the table really helped, but on it’s own, the burger was sadly lacking somewhat. The fries were incredibly tasty, and overall I was pretty satisfied with the meal. For $10 for the burger (without additions), it’s a pretty good value as well.

Patty: ★★★☆☆
Bun: ★★★★☆
Sides: ★★★★☆
Value: ★★★★☆

2. Garaje

Garaje seemes to be the current burger darling in San Francisco, so I knew it was a place I had to give a try. I got there quite soon after they opened for the day, and there was already a small line formed at the counter. Annoyingly, they don’t take cards, so I was glad I had got some cash earlier in the week. (It’s 2017, people!) I opted for Crazy Dave’s Double Cheeseburger and a side of fries. The burger came out, and it was massive! I pretty much couldn’t get my mouth around it. Sadly, the meat itself wasn’t anything special, so having that much on the burger just kind of ended up being a disappointment. There wasn’t a whole lot going on with it, except for the size. (Maybe it’s become the darling because in America bigger is better?) The fries were undercooked. I assume they just get them frozen based on the slightly floury feeling on the inside (it seems to happen quite a bit with frozen fries), but maybe I’m wrong. All I know is that I didn’t really care about finishing them, and they only brought out a few packets of ketchup. If you give it a try, I definitely suggest a single patty and no fries. Although for the price, I definitely didn’t leave hungry. I don’t quite get the hype around the place, as I wasn’t really impressed. The hype is real though, as when I left the line was almost to the door. Granted, it turns out there was a game that day and given the proximity to the stadium, perhaps it was excessively busy with people heading there after eating.

Patty: ★★☆☆☆
Bun: ★★★☆☆
Sides: ★☆☆☆☆
Value: ★★★☆☆

3. Black Sands Brewery

Finally, I hit up Black Sands Brewery to give their burger a try. I walked in at lunch, and it really wasn’t that busy (maybe due to the location). I went for the Black Sands Burger plus bacon and egg with fries on the side (salad is also an option). I think I have a bacon and egg problem. The burger arrived and it looked fantastic. The bun was grilled (and actually quite dark), and the egg looked brilliant. The fries looked quite a bit like McDonald’s fries, but tasted much, much better. In fact, the burger itself kind of felt like those times when you get a McDonald’s craving (mostly due to nostalgia as a child), order a Big Mac and fries, but the burger itself is really disappointing because it’s McDonald’s. The bun was fantastic and the buttery char on it gave it a crunch and a depth of flavor. The patties are really fantastic, well cooked and full of flavor. And the bacon and egg were just really an added bonus. I left completely satisfied with my burger choices (and maybe even my life choices). It’s really not that expensive considering it comes with a side (unlike most places where you have to pay extra).

Patty: ★★★★☆
Bun: ★★★★★
Sides: ★★★★★
Value: ★★★★★

Winner: Black Sands Brewery

It’s the hands-down winner of all the burgers I’ve tried so far. I felt like I almost reached burger nirvana, as it’s perfectly seasoned and has some amazing fries on the side. I was really happy with every mouthful. Sorry Wes Burgers ‘n’ More, you’ve been beaten. It will definitely stay on my list (probably for the fried chicken sandwich and tots), but as burgers go, Black Sands Brewery is now at the top of my list. But can it be beaten? There’s still a chance that something could be even better, so you’ll have to check out the next round when it goes up against three new burgers. I’m always ready for suggestions, so feel free to let me your favorites in the comments!

4 Comments

  • Oshyan Greene September 18, 2017 at 1:32 am

    So I’m seeing a trend here, and I realize I should have asked about this earlier: what kinds of burgers do you like and how do you prefer them cooked? Are you an In ‘n’ Out/diner-style burger fan, or do you prefer a more modern take? Or perhaps a classic “steakhouse” style? Maybe all of the above. I ask, though, first because it’s critical to knowing whether someone’s burger preference is relevant to mine. People can love In ‘n’ Out all they want (or a place trying to make a better version of that), or prefer their burgers medium or even (shudder) well-done, but it doesn’t make it a burger I’ll enjoy.

    It seems that most of the burgers you’ve tried, and certainly the three here, are all diner-style (i.e. In ‘n’ Out) thin-patty burgers. Wes Burgers is supposedly not quite in that mold, but it’s not exactly a modern burger either. And your favorite in particular here sounds diner-style (aside the addition of the egg, perhaps, but in terms of the patty, etc.). So how was it cooked when you say it was “well cooked”?

    Reply
    • Grant September 18, 2017 at 3:21 am

      Well Garaje was pretty thick patties, and so was 4505. Obviously. Wes is on the thicker side as well. I am not overly keen on thinner patties, I prefer thicker ones cooked medium rare if possible. But if someone can make a thinner patty, still have it pink and juicy then I’m down.

      I like modern takes too, really, all I want is one that has a really good meat flavor and is really tasty. I do love egg and bacon, but I did notice a trend in London for people to pile a bunch of toppings on the burger and cover up the actual meat taste. So when you do try the meat on it’s own, it isn’t that great.

      Honestly, I haven’t really made that much effort except for that it’s a different restaurant. Also, I’ve hit them up more at lunch, so I haven’t managed to make it to places that are supposed to be good AND are only open for dinner. I imagine that will change soon.

      Reply
      • Oshyan Greene September 19, 2017 at 6:41 pm

        Ahh, glad to hear you prefer thicker and med-rare. Thin patty can’t be easily and properly cooked med-rare, so it’s not really a good way to treat beef IMO (though I get that it has its place).

        As luck would have it I went to a popup at Trick Dog last night that had a pretty awesome burger. I wish you could have tried it. Not sure they’ll be back, but they’re opening a restaurant called Theoritas some time soon-ish. The burger was called the “DNA Burger”, lettuce, heirloom tomato, pickle, onion (I took the raw onion off), cheese, and a great patty, cooked rare as requested (would be good med-rare too). Here’s a photo 😀

        https://www.facebook.com/trickdogsf/photos/rpp.159663860751272/1594432670607710/?type=3&theater

        Reply
        • Grant September 20, 2017 at 9:03 am

          Yeah, medium rare is the best! Frustratingly, there is some weird law in the UK that if you get a burger at a pub it has to be cooked to medium well for health and safety concerns. So in London, the best burgers were always at smaller places.

          Wow. Looks fantastic. I mean Trick Dog is on my list too, but I will have to check out the burger when the new place opens up!

          Reply

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