A Dozen Of Our Favorite San Diego Burgers

November 30, 2022

We eat a lot of burgers! From San Diego's classic cheeseburgers to crazy creations, we run down our favorite burgers from all around America's Finest City.

Personally, we love the Double-Double Animal Style burger with chopped chilis from In-N-Out (a top value in California), the SmokeShack burger from Shake Shack and the Lounge Burger from Burger Lounge, but, for the sake of this list, we are leaving out chain restaurants (even though Burger Lounge is, technically, a local chain). Check out our favorites below and let us know if there are any must-try-burgers that we are missing by emailing [email protected].

The Friendly Dirty Flat Top Cheeseburger -(North Park x2 & Pacific Beach) - Now with a few locations around San Diego (and another opening in 2023), The Friendly offers an ever-changing array of surprisingly gourmet specials and tasty NYC-style pizza, but it's The Dirty Flat Top Cheeseburger that keeps people talking. Sure, it's not pretty, but it's f'n delicious! Two patties crisped to perfection on a greasy flat top are topped with yellow American cheese and buttery onions. The bun is toasted on the grill and swiped with garlicky mayo. This burger rings in at less than $10. This is the perfect hangover cure and goes down way too easy. No mods - don't even think about asking.
Rocky's Crown Pub Half Pound Cheeseburger (Crown Point) - With a very limited menu, Rocky's has been a San Diego burger destination since 1977 (although it is now under new ownership). Long considered one of the city's best burgers, the place just does it right. Rocky's offers a most basic cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and mayonnaise. Simple is good. Rumor has it, a glob of frozen mayo stuffed in the patty is the secret recipe here. Don't bother asking for bacon or any modifications unless you want an irked bartender on your hands. Just get the burger and fries and wash it down with a brew. Oh, and be sure to bring cash!
Swagyu Chop Shop El Swagador Burger (Pacific Beach, Imperial Beach & Poway) - Swagyu specializes in high-end beef, including Japanese wagyu, but most people come to this restaurant for its luxurious smash burgers. While the original is delicious, the El Swagador, with the addition of pork belly, smoked onions, and pickled serrano pepper, is next level. We may have encouraged the conceptualization of this burger, although Chef Steve scoffed at the idea of cherry peppers. 
RomBomb Burger OG RomBomb (Scripps Ranch, Pop-Up) - Chef Romin makes bomb burgers and he knows it! His OG RomBomb is a take on the famous Oklahoma fried onion burger with an 85/15 beef patty, paper thin California sweet onions, secret sauce, and melty American cheese on a buttered soft bun. While the OG is excellent, we can't wait to try all his creations. RomBomb is available via pre-order with Wednesday pickup and also hosts pop-ups around San Diego.
The Smoking Gun Wagyu Double Cheeseburger (Gaslamp Quarter) - A highlight of the happy hour menu clocking in at only $10, this beautiful burger admittedly pays homage to The Friendly burger (the Chef told us himself). If you cannot make it for happy hour, this burger is available as a secret menu item, just ask. And be sure to tell them SanDiegoVille sent ya! 
Hayes Burger Double Cheeseburger Add Chilis (Barrio Logan) - You can't help but compare Hayes Burger to In-N-Out, although Hayes is far superior. This Barrio Logan hotspot doesn't try to reinvent the wheel. Rather, they make a simple, near perfect burger. If you like spice like we do, be sure to add chilis to your cheeseburger.
Queenstown Public House Bare Lil Lamb (Little Italy, La Jolla) - Available at all of San Diego's Kiwi family of restaurants (Bare Back Grill, Queenstown Public House, Raglan Public House, Dunedin North Park), the Bare Lil Lamb has a New Zealand lamb patty topped with bleu cheese, beetroot, mint dressing, lettuce, tomato, onion, tomato chutney and garlic aioli. It's absolutely delicious. We prefer it without the egg, which is offered as an addition at most locations.   
E.L.E. Burger Double Cheeseburger (Pop-Up) - This San Diego burger pop-up serves at Open Bar in PB most Saturdays from noon to 5pm, or until sold out. The E.L.E. BURGER combines two smash burger patties, American cheese, thin-sliced grilled onions, iceberg lettuce, pickles, and Love Spread on a Martin's Potato roll, all made with love, because at E.L.E. "everybody loves everybody!"  
The Balboa Bar & Grill Original Balboa Burger (Bankers Hill, Chula Vista) - The Balboa is an unassuming dive bar located on a quiet stretch of 5th Avenue in Bankers Hill with a second location in Chula Vista. This neighborhood spot makes some of the most delicious burgers in town. Their namesake burger is simple perfection, with a patty that is a perfect example of the Maillard reaction in effect and a torta bun that is nothing short of pillowy goodness. 
Hamburger Hut Double Hut Burger (Encinitas) - After being shut down by the city late last year, the hospitality team behind Moto Deli, Valentina Restaurant and Corner Pizza reopened The Hamburger Hut this past summer. This San Diego burger and beer restaurant has a new tiki theme, full bar, and offers a concise menu of perfectly griddled cheeseburgers.  
The Lodge at Torrey Pines Drug Store Burger (La Jolla) - This off-the-menu beast of a burger comes with a Niman Ranch all-beef patty, lettuce, tomato, onion and aioli on a sesame seed bun, but you can add a few toppings like bacon, avocado and egg (and you should). The first time we ate this burger we met former President Barrack Obama on the golf course. Maybe you'll have the same luck. Either way, it's delicious especially when enjoyed with a view overlooking the links. 
Hodad's Guido Burger (Ocean Beach & East Village) - Inspired by Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives' host Guy Fieri (who one time named Hodad's the best burger in the U.S.), this behemoth is topped with grilled pastrami, Swiss cheese, grilled onions, pickles, ketchup and spicy brown mustard. Get it at Hodad's OG location in OB or in downtown San Diego's East Village or Petco Park. 
Check out our Google Map below for locations of all our favorite burger spots for 2022.