The quest for San Diego’s perfect burger has begun! From the casual to the upscale experience, I have rounded up my personal favorite burgers in America’s Finest City. Hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed eating them.
With the most recent update (December 2020) I’ve added a few additional burger joints that my SoCal friends love and recommend.
Best Burgers in San Diego
Texas Burger at The Waterfront
For the back to basics all-American hamburger with a whole lot of flavor and those oh-so-wonderful grilled onions, head to the oldest tavern in town, The Waterfront. This burger is a local late-night favorite.
While the façade of the building and the clientele has changed a bit over the years – one thing you can always count on at the Waterfront is a well-made drink and the best condiment tray in the city.
While the burgers are delicious on their own—in my world—no meal is complete without a basket of fries and one of the 14 beers on tap.
The atmosphere is always lively at The Waterfront, as this bar is rarely empty and has live music or a DJ Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Best time to enjoy this burger? Around 1am and after a night on the town!
Lounge Burger at Burger Lounge
There are several fast-serve burger chains in San Diego, and what sets Burger Lounge apart is the “single source American grass-fed beef” that is hormone and antibiotic-free. Their claim to fame is the Lounge Burger, which is served with organic cheese, fresh or grilled onions, and all the regular fixings.
If you want to really do it right order the ½ and ½ (a basket of ½ Onion Rings and ½ French Fries). One word: Yum!
Don’t eat red meat? Try the organic quinoa veggie burger. They also offer gluten-free buns.
Best time to enjoy this burger? When you are craving a hamburger and want a healthy, quick, and hearty lunch.
50/50 Burger at Slaters 50/50
Whether you go with the “make your own burger” option or choose one of the many unique burger options such as the “peanut butter & jellousy”, the “California burrito” burger or the “50 alarm” Slaters is all about a perfect burger…. and bacon. They even have a statue of a burger in the courtyard.
To do it right, try the 50/50 Burger – made with a half-pound of ground smoked bacon and chuck, topped with a sunny-side-up egg, avocado mash, pepper jack cheese, and chipotle adobo mayo on a brioche bun. Pair this with a side of fries with bacon ketchup and a maple bacon milkshake for a truly one of a kind bacon extravaganza.
Best time to enjoy this burger? When you have a craving for bacon that only the trifecta of a bacon burger, bacon milkshake, and bacon ketchup can satisfy. (They also offer gluten-free buns.)
Burger Royale at BO-beau
BO-beau is one of my favorite restaurants in San Diego. I could go on and on about the French onion soup and Brussel sprouts, but today I focus on the Burger Royale. It’s a ground pork burger served with melted gouda cheese and onion jam and an egg. As you might have guessed, they come with some spectacular fries served with roasted garlic aioli. The burger royale easily requires two hands or a fork and knife.
Best time to enjoy this burger? Leisurely dinner preferably fireside on the outside patio.
dirty flat top burger
Their claim to fame is the Burnout Burger which is topped with American cheese, an egg over easy, bacon, mayo, and crispy lettuce. To really take it up a notch, order a side of infused maple peanut butter to drizzle over everything! Another favorite is the Hellcat burger which has pepper jack cheese, sautéed onions, Serrano peppers, and chipotle aioli with freeze plugs (fried pickles).
What & Where:
Slaters 50/50 (2750 Dewey Rd; 619-398-2600; www.slaters5050.com)
The Waterfront (2044 Kettner Blvd; 619-232-9656; www.waterfrontbarandgrill.com)
Burger Lounge (8 San Diego Locations found here: www.burgerlounge.com)
BO-beau Kitchen (4996 W Point Loma Blvd; 619-224-2884; www.cohnrestaurants.com/bobeaukitchenbar)
STP Bar-N-Grill (5487 Clairemont Mesa Blvd; 858-430-6911
As eating out today remains uncertain, please keep your safety and the safety of others in mind at all times. If you are comfortable with dining in or taking out, please do so responsibly and within regulation as any restaurant, dining is at your own risk.
If you do decide to do take-out or dine outdoors at this time, here are a few recommendations:
- Wear a face mask.
- Bring hand sanitizer and wash your hands on a regular basis. Click here for a DIY Hand Sanitizer Recipe
- Check official websites before you visit restaurants for the latest updates on policies, closures, and status of dining options.
Alexa Meisler is the editorial director of 52 Perfect Days. Born in Paris, France she has since lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. She currently resides in San Diego with her husband and son where they enjoy exploring California and Mexico.
Travel has always been a part of her life; traveling to such places as Morocco, Tangiers and Spain as a young child as well as taking many road trips to Mexico with her grandparents as a young girl. Since then, she has traveled abroad to locations such as Russia, Taiwan and throughout Europe.
Prior to working at 52 Perfect Days she was a freelance travel writer; focusing on family and women’s adventure experiences.