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The 2009 Burger Bonanza: Magnolia's Got the Look

Welcome to the 2009 Burger Bonanza wherein two girls eat 20 of the city's best burgers, on the path to burger enlightenment. The 10 best will then be chosen to be featured—in ranking order—in 7x7's September magazine issue. Burgers must fit our "fancy burger" parameter: made with beef and available as part of the regular dinner menu at upscale restaurants in SF. Beyond that, we're open to suggestions, which we hope you will leave in the comment box below!

MAGNOLIA PUB AND BREWERY

Price: $13
Beef: Prather Ranch
Bun: Cake Box Bakery
Fixings: butter lettuce, pickle
Condiments: housemade beer-mustard upon request
Comes with: Fries

I would like to pretend that I’m Michael Bauer, critiquing with no biases (I’m winking right now)—coming at each burger with no burger baggage. But I’m afraid this would be a lie.

The honest truth is that by the time I got to Magnolia, I was a bit hardened about burgers—not as easily impressed as I might been in my more virginal days when I could just dive into a burger without breaking it down into a dissertation. Because I think if I had just been eating Magnolia’s burger mindlessly, like a normal citizen, I would have thought it was pretty good.

But alas, this was business. And Magnolia’s burger proves to be fine but not memorable. They use the lauded Cake Box bun from the bakery in Lafayette, but I’m not sure what all the fuss is about because it was soggy in minutes. The balsamic onions weren’t sweet enough nor piquant enough, and the butter lettuce lacked the crunch we keep talking up. I asked for mustard because they make theirs in-house with their own beer, which is a great idea, but sadly, the mustard had some punch but lacked enough salt to make it condiment-worthy. The Prather Ranch beef patty was well-seasoned but a good patty is only part of the parcel.

On the upside, Magnolia ranks up there with one of the best places in town to eat a burger. Not only do they have excellent beer to pair with it, but the pub space is spot-on: black, tufted booths, rustic tables, and the super cool, old trough sink by the bathrooms. And while you're enjoying the burger ambiance, order up the tomato soup and fried okra—both which make the burger pale in comparison.

Next up! Bix.