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An Alum of Fine Dining Kitchens Delivers Deluxe Burgers to San Diego

Tanner’s Prime Burgers is doing a test run at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

A smashburger.
Tanner’s prime burger.
Chris Rov Costa

A veteran of several Michelin-starred restaurants in the Bay Area has created a premium burger brand that intends to establish a fast-casual restaurant presence in San Diego. Tanner’s Prime Burgers is currently in pop-up mode inside the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s Blue Moon Celebrity Grill until the end of the summer racing season on Sunday, September 10, after which it’ll seek to open its first storefront in the area.

Tanner’s founder Brandon Rogers comes from a background in fine dining, cooking in esteemed kitchens like The French Laundry and meeting then-head chef Corey Lee. He accompanied Lee to San Francisco where the acclaimed Korean-American restaurateur opened Benu, which was awarded three Michelin stars while Rogers served as Lee’s chef de cuisine.

In 2016, Rogers helped Lee open In Situ at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, earning a Michelin star and back-to-back James Beard Awards nominations for Best Chef: West before the restaurant ultimately shuttered in 2021 due to the pandemic.

Rogers subsequently moved back to San Diego, where he’d worked at Jack’s La Jolla more than a decade ago and trained with James Beard award-winner Gavin Kaysen to represent the U.S. in the 2007 Bocuse d’Or competition.

A box of French fries.
Tallow fries.
Chris Rov Costa

He now lives with his family in the Murrietta-Temecula area and consults for Brandt Beef, the well-known ranch in Southern California that is supplying the 100 percent USDA prime beef for Tanner’s menu.

From the kitchen in the racetrack’s third-floor clubhouse, Rogers says Tanner’s has been turning out 500 burgers on a busy day. Featuring a 1/3-pound patty topped with Brandt Beef bacon, caramelized onions, lettuce, thinly-sliced sweet onions, and special sauce, the smashburger’s secret weapon is the New School American cheese created by chef Eric Greenspan which has all the essential melting qualities and more flavor.

An ice cream sandwich.
Tanner’s tallow ice cream sandwich.
Chris Rov Costa

Rogers’ menu also includes beef tallow French fries served with garlic aioli, house-fermented hot sauce, and homemade vanilla beef tallow ice cream sandwiches built on his wife’s recipe for chocolate cookies.

The chef, who’ll also be previewing Tanner’s Prime Bugers at upcoming events like Anti-Con and the Del Mar Food & Wine Festival, tells Eater that he’s actively looking for a permanent spot and exploring a few locations in North County.