Established in 1977, Rocky's Crown Pub has been a local institution for more than three decades; set on a busy Pacific Beach boulevard, the bar has no view to speak of and the crowd inside the small, sports memorabilia-covered pub is often elbow-to-elbow, yet people wait patiently for this iconic burger.
Time hasn't changed the burger much; it's a testament to doing one thing and doing it right. Though there's some debate over which classic burger joint claims the most San Diego hearts (Rocky's or Hodad's); purists prefer Rocky's. We at Eater love the burger at Rocky's Crown Pub for its simplicity and restraint.
How, And What, To Order: Order from the bar, and find your own seat; the decision's easy when there are just a few things to choose from: it's either a 1/3 or 1/2 pound burger, with or without cheese. Bring cash; credit cards aren't accepted here but you won't need much, a 1/3 pound hamburger is just $5.25. A Monday through Friday lunch special (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) includes their most popular 1/3 pound cheeseburger, plus fries and a soda or draft beer for $10.50.
The Burger Breakdown: The 80/20 ground beef patties are shaped, weighed and made fresh daily, then grilled on a well-seasoned flat top before being sandwiched between a fluffy sesame seed bun. Traditional garnishes include mayo, tomato, red leaf lettuce, red onion and a short stack of sliced pickles. You can request a particular doneness for your meat, but the standard is a still-juicy medium pink. Rocky's makes three to four hundred of these burgers to order a day.
The Deal With Drinks: The pub has a full bar and 13 beer taps, about half of which are dedicated to local craft beer.
The Side Situation: Just one choice, a side of fries for $2.75, but the long, natural-cut fries come out perfectly crisp-tender.
Off Menu Item: What you see is what you get; the only off menu add-on is grilled onions instead of raw.
Don't Just Take It From Us: Rocky's has been a Top 5 finalist for the last six years in the San Diego A-List contest for Best Burger. And Serious Eats' A Hamburger Today deems Rocky's burgers "spectacular" and calls the patty "undeniably perfect".
· Rocky's [Official Site]
· All Burger Week Coverage on Eater [~ESD~]