One thing that will be left behind when all this recession nonsense is said and done, is the legacy of what we’ll deem the “fancy burger.” When we tell our grandkids that 2009 was the year we learned to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps—while, of course, maintaining some sense of luxury—we will have to include the fact that our strength was often fueled by a patty of house-ground, grass-fed beef.
Reliably, the cheapest thing on the menu of many the city’s top restaurants, the fancy burger has become a menu prerequisite for a chef trying to lower the average price-point and the saving grace for diners looking for thrifty comfort that pairs well with a glass of red. This is a good thing. Barring long-life and good health, there’s much to be said for a burger-only diet: For not much over $12 (although this price is creeping up), you get the bonus of candlelight, a cocktail menu and a wine list—things that In-N-Out just can't provide.
But not all burgers are created equal. The fancy-burger factor has created a double-edged sword: Certain chefs can’t leave well-enough alone. All of the sudden the burger is no longer recognizable as a burger, in taste or price. At the same time, other chefs have created virtual masterpieces that we'd happily choose over anything else on the menu, even if we were living the high life.
So what burgers are the best in SF? Jessica and I have decided to answer this for you. Thus, commenceth our 2009 Burger Bonanza. Starting Wednesday, we will be investigating (i.e. eating) 20 of the city’s top restaurant burgers, and reporting back to you—that is, unless our arteries fail us first. Where do we draw the line? Burgers must be made with beef and available for as part of the regular dinner menu at a restaurant in SF. Beyond that, we're open to suggestions, which we hope you will leave in the comment box, right now!
Two girls, 20 burgers. Can it be done? Oh yes, it can. Should it be done? Probably not. (Especially considering I'm getting married in two months and might not fit into my dress.) The city’s top 10 burgers will be chosen by us and featured in 7x7’s September issue.*
Tune in Wednesday for the real scoop on Epic's $25 burger. Is it worth the price?
* Note: This burger project is in no way related to or inspired by Carl's Jr.'s Hot Chicks Eating Burgers. This is serious food journalism and we will not be wearing bikinis, no matter how gorgeous the weather is.