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10 Burger Chains That Should Expand to San Diego

More Burger Chain Power Hour ahead.

Flip Burger
Flip Burger

From new wave to retro-styled regional franchises, the cult of the burger has never been bigger. And while San Diego boasts its fair share of worthy local joints, national chains and fast-casual concepts there will always be room for some new kids on the burger block. With dedicated fan bases in towns and cities across the state and nationwide, let's take a look at the top ten burger chains that should come to our fair city, and the neighborhoods they would thrive in.

Richard Blais’ chef-driven, boutique burger mini-chain quite literally flips the notion of the classic American comfort food on its proverbial bun. With a roster of creative and upscale burgers, molecularly-influenced N2 shakes and plenty of nods to Southern cuisine, the Flip Burger "fine dining between two buns" experience is a feast for the senses. Currently, there are only locations in Atlanta, Birmingham and Nashville, but it might only be a matter of time before recent San Diego transplant Blais brings his innovative modern burger concept to Southern California. Neighborhood Match: Little Italy

flip burger

PLAN CHECK KITCHEN + BAR With elements reflecting his Argentinian/Japanese roots, chef Ernesto Uchimura creates the ultimate American comfort food with a sophisticated twist. His modern take on the classic burger, small plate format and selection of premium whiskeys have been a hit with Angelenos since Plan Check’s 2011 debut. With three locations across L.A., we’re confident the concept will soon find its way south to San Diego, as the group is currently looking for a location here. Neighborhood Match: East Village

plan check

UMAMI BURGER Named after the Japanese term for "the fifth taste", the avant-garde and wildly-popular LA-based burger concept has amassed a cult-like following from coast to coast, and more than twenty outlets nationwide in a little under five years. With a menu that offers something for everyone (did someone say duck fat burger?), they're famed for using fresh, high quality ingredients and featuring a full bar; Umami Burgerwould knock it out the park in San Diego. Neighborhood Match: North Park

umami burger

TEDDY'S BIGGER BURGER Bright decor, black-and-white-tiled walls and a 1950s theme are the order of the day at this colorful Hawaii-based chain, which opened in Honolulu in 1998. From sandwiches to fries, everything is cooked to order and all Teddy’s burgers are served on a potato bun and topped with Claussen pickle slices. With a primary fan base on Oahu and Maui, operations have ventured into Washington and Iowa plus Japan and the Philippines. So far Teddy’s only "aloha" for California can be found in Fullerton. Neighborhood Match: Mission Beach

teddy's bigger burger

LARKBURGER The eco-friendly burger concept was the first fast casual to open in the ski resort town of Vail in 2006 and is now 13 locations strong across Colorado. Cooking oil is recycled, all packaging and utensils are recyclable, and the restaurant even offsets its energy use by purchasing wind power credits. Everything at Larkburger except the brioche buns is made from scratch in-house, while everything on the menu, save for the buns and chili, is gluten free. Neighborhood Match: Solana Beach


SHAKE SHACK From a humble hot dog cart to $1.6 billion NYC burger institution, Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack set up permanent residence in Madison Square Park in 2004 and now boasts outposts as far afield as Qatar. Not bad for a company that chooses to focus more on the quality of their food than spending money on marketing. Devotees still wait up to an hour to enjoy one of the juiciest cheeseburgers (100 % antibiotic-free Angus beef) on a soft, buttered potato roll with secret recipe "ShackSauce" and get their crinkle fries fix on. Neighborhood Match: Normal Heights

shake shack

P. TERRYS With its mid-century styling and low-key vibe, Austin-based P. Terry'sspecializes in burgers made with all natural, vegetarian-fed, hormone and antibiotic-free Black Angus beef. By using real ingredients (they only use locally grown tomatoes) and focusing on from-scratch cooking methods, the burger chain has nailed a mature riff on the fast-food formula. Neighborhood Match: Point Loma

p terry's

SUPER DUPER BURGERS In April 2011 San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee recognized this chain's one-year anniversary by declaring a citywide Super Duper Day. With a "Fast Food Burgers, Slow Food Values" motto, Adriano Paganini’s creation serves up 100 percent Niman Ranch beef burgers that keep the lines out the door on a daily basis at Super Duper Burgers' five outposts across the city and surrounding Bay Area. Neighborhood Match: Hillcrest

super duper

BAREBURGER For the uninitiated, Bareburger is a micro-chain of organic burger restaurants with locations throughout the East Coast. Voted ‘Best Burger in NYC’ by Zagat, and the repeat recipient of multiple "Michelin Recommended" nods (both 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 respectively), the culinary team focuses on creating healthier burgers using organic all natural ingredients that appeal to vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. There are now 20 locations in the US where you can build your own, or take your pick from a slew chef-designed, exquisitely crafted creations. Sadly though, San Diego is still on the waitlist. Neighborhood Match: Bankers Hill


BURGERVILLE Established in Vancouver, Burgerville has been a constant fixture on the Northwest scene since 1961. Sourcing the majority of their food from farms within a 400-mile radius of the Portland/Vancouver area, all burgers at this family-owned chain are made with antibiotic-free, natural beef. The beloved Portland mainstay also runs its restaurants and headquarters on 100 percent wind power, making it the largest chain in America to do so. Burgerville is also one of the only burger chains that can boast a seasonal menu; this spring, fresh strawberry milkshakes, smoothies and shortcakes will take center stage. Neighborhood Match: Downtown


-Keri Bridgwater