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Starlite burger
Starlite burger

Here Are 10 Essential San Diego Burgers

A curated list of locally iconic burgers.

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Starlite burger

To round off Burger Week 2015, here are 10 of San Diego's most essential burgers to add to your burger rotation. From classic, straightforward burgers at casual eateries to now-signature burgers at neighborhood restaurants, these are burgers that you have to try. What's your most essential local burger? If we left if off the list, let us know in the comments.

Note: The map points on this list are not ranked.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Starlite

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Quite possibly the most signature dish at Starlite, and with good reason, the burger here is built with a Brandt beef patty topped with melted Gruyere and caramelized onion, sandwiched in a brioche bun from local bakery Con Pane. It might just be one of the best burgers you eat after hours, as it's available on Starlite's late night menu that runs until midnight Sunday through Thursday.

The Lodge at Torrey Pines

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There is something beautifully nostalgic about this burger, available at The Grill at Torrey Pines, the hotel bar and by request at A.R. Valentien. Executive chef Jeff Jackson calls it the Drugstore Burger, an ode to Midwest lunch counter of years gone by. The beef is juicy Niman Ranch chuck, the mayo is housemade and the fries are perfect.

Jayne's Gastropub

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The Jaynes burger has been many a shortlist since the neighborhood gastropub's inception, including being named San Diego's best by Sunset Magazine. It comes with Vermont cheddar, pickled onions, aioli and frites; on Tuesdays, $17 gets you the burger and any draft beer.

Rocky's Crown Pub

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Sometimes simple is best. Rocky's 1/3 or 1/2 pound burgers, made with 80/20 ground beef, come with standard toppings and the option of cheese. That's it. The no-frills bar sells hundreds of hand-shaped burgers daily; try the weekday 1/3 pound burger lunch special that includes fries and a beer or soda. Bring cash.

Nine-Ten Restaurant and Bar

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Executive chef Jason Knibb's burger is a mainstay at the restaurant's bustling bar; the 1/2 pound grassfed beef burger is further distinguished by a housemade brioche bun, side of pickled vegetables and exemplary fries, which can be upgraded to. a truffle version. Monday to Friday, the burgers are half-price during happy hour.

Neighborhood

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We're still lamenting the loss of their 777 Burger, but this founding member of the East Village food scene is still serving its eponymous Neighborhood burger, topped with caramelized onions, Gruyere and blue cheese, plus arugula. Yes, there's still no ketchup.

Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant

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Chef/owner Carl Schroeder and team change their menu seasonally, but a stalwart has always been the BH Burger, a half-pounder topped with richness-tempering pickled onions and white cheddar on a brioche bun that comes with skinny fries that can be truffled for an extra $3. It's available at dinner and Sunday brunch, when it can be gilded with bacon and an egg.

Hodad's

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The cult of Hodad's has reached beyond San Diego city limits and now burger lovers from across the globe flock to the iconic surf-inspired shack for one of the signature burgers. The most popular, a bacon cheeseburger, tops the beef patty with a three to five ounce patty made of bacon, first boiled then grilled until crisp.

Carnitas' Snack Shack

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Pork is the word here, but that doesn't mean the kitchen doesn't know how to handle other terrestrial meat. The Carnitas Snack Shack burger, topped with sharp white cheddar, bacon jam and aioli, is just as iconic, and popular, as their pork-based sandwiches. An accompanying dish of sweet corn salad is a bonus.

The Smoking Goat

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At this French-inspired neighborhood bistro, the beloved half-pound burgers are topped with cheese and grilled onions on a brioche bun. The Smoking Goat was one of the first spots to offer truffled duck fat fries and they come standard here, served with a mustard aioli for dipping.

Starlite

Quite possibly the most signature dish at Starlite, and with good reason, the burger here is built with a Brandt beef patty topped with melted Gruyere and caramelized onion, sandwiched in a brioche bun from local bakery Con Pane. It might just be one of the best burgers you eat after hours, as it's available on Starlite's late night menu that runs until midnight Sunday through Thursday.

The Lodge at Torrey Pines

There is something beautifully nostalgic about this burger, available at The Grill at Torrey Pines, the hotel bar and by request at A.R. Valentien. Executive chef Jeff Jackson calls it the Drugstore Burger, an ode to Midwest lunch counter of years gone by. The beef is juicy Niman Ranch chuck, the mayo is housemade and the fries are perfect.

Jayne's Gastropub

The Jaynes burger has been many a shortlist since the neighborhood gastropub's inception, including being named San Diego's best by Sunset Magazine. It comes with Vermont cheddar, pickled onions, aioli and frites; on Tuesdays, $17 gets you the burger and any draft beer.

Rocky's Crown Pub

Sometimes simple is best. Rocky's 1/3 or 1/2 pound burgers, made with 80/20 ground beef, come with standard toppings and the option of cheese. That's it. The no-frills bar sells hundreds of hand-shaped burgers daily; try the weekday 1/3 pound burger lunch special that includes fries and a beer or soda. Bring cash.

Nine-Ten Restaurant and Bar

Executive chef Jason Knibb's burger is a mainstay at the restaurant's bustling bar; the 1/2 pound grassfed beef burger is further distinguished by a housemade brioche bun, side of pickled vegetables and exemplary fries, which can be upgraded to. a truffle version. Monday to Friday, the burgers are half-price during happy hour.

Neighborhood

We're still lamenting the loss of their 777 Burger, but this founding member of the East Village food scene is still serving its eponymous Neighborhood burger, topped with caramelized onions, Gruyere and blue cheese, plus arugula. Yes, there's still no ketchup.

Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant

Chef/owner Carl Schroeder and team change their menu seasonally, but a stalwart has always been the BH Burger, a half-pounder topped with richness-tempering pickled onions and white cheddar on a brioche bun that comes with skinny fries that can be truffled for an extra $3. It's available at dinner and Sunday brunch, when it can be gilded with bacon and an egg.

Hodad's

The cult of Hodad's has reached beyond San Diego city limits and now burger lovers from across the globe flock to the iconic surf-inspired shack for one of the signature burgers. The most popular, a bacon cheeseburger, tops the beef patty with a three to five ounce patty made of bacon, first boiled then grilled until crisp.

Carnitas' Snack Shack

Pork is the word here, but that doesn't mean the kitchen doesn't know how to handle other terrestrial meat. The Carnitas Snack Shack burger, topped with sharp white cheddar, bacon jam and aioli, is just as iconic, and popular, as their pork-based sandwiches. An accompanying dish of sweet corn salad is a bonus.

The Smoking Goat

At this French-inspired neighborhood bistro, the beloved half-pound burgers are topped with cheese and grilled onions on a brioche bun. The Smoking Goat was one of the first spots to offer truffled duck fat fries and they come standard here, served with a mustard aioli for dipping.

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