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Burger Chains Worth Eating At In San Diego (And Their Best Burgers)

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Welcome to the Burger Chains Power Hour.

Burger Lounge Del Mar
Burger Lounge Del Mar
Lyudmila Zotova

Welcome to Burger Chains Power Hour. In honor of Eater Burger Week 2015, we’re taking a bite out of the ultimate American comfort food. From homegrown and regional favorites to the national heavyweights, these are the burger chains in San Diego (and their go-to burgers) that are worth lining up for. (Not including the classic and ever-popular In-N-Out.) Note: burgers are not ranked.

Burger Lounge
With a simple, ingredient focused menu that includes gluten free, vegan and paleo options, Burger Lounge is a long standing favorite among health-conscious San Diegans. Famed for its 100% grass-fed beef burger, its meat-free fare such as the Organic Quinoa Veggie Burger and the beef-alternative Free-Range Turkey Burger are also highly regarded. Complete with Gorgonzola, pickled red onion and roasted garlic aioli the latest must-try addition at this stylish burger outfit is the grass-fed Bison Burger, which comes neatly packaged inside a perfectly spherical Burger Lounge bun. The newest location is in Temecula and Burger Lounge is reportedly searching for a space in the Del Sur area near 4S Ranch. Best Burger: Bison Burger

Habit Burger
Habit Burger beat out some of the biggest names in the business to be crowned Best Burger in America last year. Flipping patties since ‘69, the California-based chain has three locations in San Diego each serving 100% fresh ground beef char-grilled over an open flame. With six bovine-based staples to choose from it’s the Double Char Burger that puts Habit Grill firmly on the map. Comprising two 3.2 oz. patties (from LA’s Sterling Meats), it comes topped with crisp lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, mayo and pickle on a toasted bun. Best Burger: Double Char Burger

Eureka! Burger
The national chain opened its first and as-of-yet only San Diego outpost in Westfield UTC in early 2013. Known for its well-curated craft beer selection and admirable craft cocktail and spirits program, Eureka! Burger is consistently packed with burger looks who seek out the eatery's creatively topped renditions, which range from fig marmalade and goat cheese to jalapeño and fried egg. A must-try is the Bone Marrow Burger, available in limited quantities every day. The bone marrow porcini butter-based burger, which comes with hand cut fries, is topped with charbroiled onion, mustard aioli and oven-roasted tomato. Best Burger: Bone Marrow Burger

Five Guys
Absurdly large portions, fresh hand-cut fries and free peanuts are just a few reasons this East Coast transplant keeps devotees coming back for more. Starting from a modest Virginia strip mall burger shack and booming into one of America’s most rapidly growing chains, Five Guys serves up made-to-order burgers with a dash of 50s charm. Each patty, made from an 80/20 ground chuck, has never been frozen and as purists will know while onion and bacon go below, pickles and tomato always go on top. Best Burger: Little Cheeseburger

Slater's 50/50
A homegrown Southern-California success story, Slater’s innovative and groundbreaking 50% beef and 50% bacon burger has won a slew of "Best Of" awards and accolades since it’s 2009 inception. The go-to at this Point Loma favorite has to be the ‘Burger Of The Month’ special, which for April is a BBQ Brisket. Thick slices of Brandt beef, sliced smoked brisket and coleslaw are slathered in Slater’s namesake BBQ sauce, topped with pepperoncini and fried onion strings and sandwiched between a bacon pretzel bun for an extra porcine punch. Best Burger: BBQ Brisket Burger

Stacked
Customers can customize burgers to their hearts content at this Fashion Valley fast-casual concept. Staying true to the chains "food well built" philosophy, quality beef patties can be stacked high using any number of individual ingredients and dressed in sauces selected from the hi-tech iPad ordering devices. Best burger on the Stacked block? That would be the Wake Up Call. Served on a fresh pretzel bun with roasted red pepper aioli, the juicy Angus beef patty is topped with Swiss cheese, applewood smoked bacon, fried egg and homemade potato chips. Best Burger: Wake Up Call

Smashburger
There are two ordering options at this popular Colorado-based chain: either build your own burger, adding any combination of sauce and regular or premium toppings, or order off the favorites menu. Feeling decadent? Treat yourself to Smashburger's Truffle Mushroom Swiss Burger, where truffle mayo, sautéed baby portabella mushrooms and aged Swiss cheese come together in perfect harmony on an artisan egg bun. Cravings for sweet potato fries with Smash Fries Seasoning, a PB&J milkshake, or fried pickles can be indulged by way of the not-so-secret menu. Best Burger: Truffle Mushroom Swiss Burger

Tioli's Crazee Burger
While its Old Town location has sadly closed, we have no doubt that Crazee Burger will expand again someday. From traditional beef, turkey and lamb (and assorted international cheeses), to ocean-inspired salmon and crab patties, there are over 30 incarnations of hand-crafted, gourmet-style burger to choose from at this North Park institution, which is soon moving to new digs. For the more adventurous, Crazee’s exotic meat offerings, including ostrich, antelope, kangaroo and gator, make this local hole-in-the-wall-style-haunt standout. Our favorite is the Venison burger, finished with poached red pear, mushrooms, bacon cream and plum jelly. Best Burger: Venison Burger

-Keri Bridgwater

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