San Diego's Top 20 Burgers To Enjoy This National Hamburger Day

May 28, 2024

In honor of National Hamburger Day, we've compiled a list of our favorite burgers from all around San Diego County. From thick and juicy steakhouse cheeseburgers, to crispy smash burgers, to wild creations, check out our top 20 burgers around America's Finest City.

In the gleaming coastal sprawl of San Diego, where sun-kissed beaches meet urban charm, there exists a sacred quest that unites locals and travelers alike: the pursuit of the perfect burger. Amidst the swaying palms and salty sea air, a culinary battleground emerges, where flame-kissed patties and artisanal buns vie for supremacy in a meaty showdown. On this National Hamburger Day, join us as we embark on a carnivorous odyssey through the vibrant neighborhoods of America's Finest City, where every bite tells a tale of passion, innovation, and unabashed indulgence.

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). So in honor of the Hamburger Holiday, we have compiled the below list of our top burgers from all over San Diego County. And please, let us know if there are any must-try-burgers that we are missing by emailing [email protected] or messaging us on our Instagram account.

Charli's Landing Smashburger (Mission Bay) - Earlier this year, Charli's Landing opened in the waterfront space that last housed Royal Rooster at Seaforth Marina at Quivira Basin in San Diego's Mission Beach. Paying homage to the local fishing community with walls decked out with historic photos, the marina-adjacent eatery serves an all day menu featuring grab-and-go breakfast items to feed the local fishing community in early morning hours, morning-focused dishes like breakfast fried rice, and late-day options ranging from tacos and burritos. But it's the smash burgers that keeps us coming back. Made with 1/3lb of prime Brandt beef, then topped with melty American cheese, homemade pickles grilled onions and signature sauce, this burger just does the trick. 
Tanner's Prime Burgers Signature Cheeseburger (Oceanside) - Following a successful run as a pop-up of the Del Mar Racetrack, a former chef of multiple Michelin-starred restaurants teamed up with San Diego's Brandt Beef to open the first brick-and-mortar location of Tanner's Prime Burgers. Located within Oceanside's brand new Freeman Collective, the signature burger includes one or two 1/3-pound Brandt Beef patties topped with Brandt beef bacon, caramelized onions, thinly-sliced sweet onions, lettuce, special sauce, and the New School American cheese created by chef and culinary pioneer Eric Greenspan.
Rosemarie's Rosiemac burger (Mission Beach) - Chef Nick Bálsamo launched Rosemarie's Burgers food truck in 2022 and was a fixture outside Harland Brewing Company's Bay Park tasting room, where it earned a reputation for having deliciously unique slider sandwiches. Last year, he opened his first brick-and-mortar restaurant on a quiet stretch of Mission Boulevard in San Diego's Mission Beach. Although they're called sliders, Rosemarie's burgers and sandwiches are quite large. The Rosiemac is their take on a classic American cheeseburger and includes two Wagyu beef patties topped with American cheese, onion confit, house special sauce, Kewpie mayo and pickles. 
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. He even recently launched a signature SanDiegoVille Burger, which was available for a limited time. RomBomb is available via pre-order with Wednesday pickup and also hosts pop-ups around San Diego. Follow his social media accounts to know when and where. 
Eat Crispy Burger The Original “OG” Crispy Double (Encinitas) - This two-year-old, family-run burger restaurant in Northern San Diego County is such a pleasure in every way. The service is so warm and welcoming and it's a beautiful thing to watch a close-knit family put out delicious food. Their burgers are perfectly smashed to crispy perfection. They also serve delicious fries, onion rings and shakes. The quaint eatery is right off the I-5, making it an easy pitstop if passing by, but they will also soon open locations in Kearny Mesa, Oceanside and Chula Vista
The Wise Ox Double Cheeseburger (North Park & Carlsbad) - Trust Restaurant Group's butcher shop concept The Wise Ox offers a small sandwich menu from Executive Chef & Owner Brad Wise. While items like the cheesesteak and Reuben are favorites among customers, their double cheeseburger is close to perfection. two house-ground beef patties are topped with American cheese and layered with lettuce, tomato and pickles, topped with Thousand Island dressing all between a house made bun. 
The Friendly Dirty Flat Top Cheeseburger (North Park x2, Pacific Beach, and Kearny Mesa) - Now with a few locations around San Diego, 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 and goes down way too easy. No mods - don't even think about asking.
Moe's Steakhouse Moe's Burger (Mission Beach) - In 2022, Moe's Steakhouse unveiled in the Mission Beach building that housed Saska's for nearly seven decades. While the restaurant dishes out high-end cuts and quality seafood with a classic steakhouse vibe, we are regulars during their daily happy hour. Available only on the happy hour menu, the Moe's Burger has a house ground burger patty topped with creamy Brie cheese, caramelized onions, mixed greens and apricot mostarda, a bargain at $15. 
Swagyu Chop Shop El Swagador Burger (Poway, La Mesa, Westfield UTC) - Swagyu specializes in high-end beef, including Japanese wagyu, but most people come 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 and went with the spicier serrano. 
Saint James French Diner Burger Parisienne (Downtown San Diego) - Last year, downtown San Diego's historic St. James Hotel was renovated and rebranded into Palihotel. The ground floor, former Brian's 24 space was transformed into Saint James French Diner. We quickly fell in love with the European charm and delicious food, but we keep coming back for the burgers, which are half priced during the restaurant's daily happy hour. The Burger Parisienne is like French onion soup in burger form, with a perfectly seasoned beef patty topped with caramelized onions, American cheese, and creamy French dressing on a house made sesame seed bun, all drowning in a rich Bordelaise sauce that's perfect for dredging the burger as you eat it. 
Classic Burger Double Classic Burger (La Jolla) - This relative newcomer to the San Diego burger scene has quickly become one of favorite burgers in town. The no-nonsense menu only has a few items, but all of them are done exceedingly well. Our only wish was there was something pickled on this burger, but it's amazing nonetheless, especially for the price of under $10 for a double.
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!" We also love the adorable cheeseburger gummy candy they give you with each order. It's so cute! This is probably the burger we eat most often. 
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). It's on our rotation as a go-to stop to pregame before or after a Padres game solely because of this burger. If you cannot make it for happy hour, this specific burger is available as a secret menu item, just ask. And be sure to tell them SanDiegoVille sent ya (like the rest of the spots on this list)! 
Hayes Burger Double Cheeseburger Add Chilis (Barrio Logan & Normal Heights) - You can't help but compare Hayes Burger to In-N-Out, although maybe don't tell them that. This burger hotspot doesn't try to reinvent the wheel. Rather, they make a simple, near perfect burger at a reasonable price. If you like spice like we do, be sure to add chilis to your order.
Queenstown Bare Lil Lamb (Little Italy, La Jolla x2) - 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 and unique. We prefer it without the egg, which is offered as an addition at most locations. 
Jeremy's On The Hill Juicy J Burger (Julian) - We know it's weird to see a restaurant in Julian listed here, but every time we visit this northeastern San Diego County mountain town, we dine at Jeremy's and get a burger. The Juicy J burger features a grass-fed beef patty, cheddar and blue cheese, chipotle aioli, sliced avocado and pulled pork brisket. It's fantastic!
Below are the obligatory inclusions that we must have here to ensure our inbox doesn't get flooded with hate mail. While these burgers are good, they may be a tad overhyped and in some cases not as good as they used to be.

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. In the interest of full disclosure, this establishment and Evans Hotels' associated properties have blocked SanDiegoVille on Instagram for publishing an article about owners' close relationship with convicted felon Elizabeth Holmes, so, this shows how truly objective we are. 
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, although some say it's changed a bit since new ownership took over. 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. 
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 recently under new ownership). Long considered one of the city's best burgers, the place does it simple and right. Rocky's offers a most basic cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and mayonnaise. 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 as they do not accept credit cards! 
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. 
So there are some popular San Diego burgers we have yet to try despite hearing they are top-tier, specifically Little Frenchie in Coronado, Fort Oak in Mission Hills, Juan Jasper in Golden Hill, North Park Beer in Bankers Hill, Swan Bar in University Heights, Mastiff Kitchen in La Mesa,  Smash & Dash in College Area, Duke's Old Fashioned Onion Burgers in La Mesa, Doggos Gus in East Village and Copper Kings Burgers in San Marcos. Again, if there are any other must-try burger spots, email us at [email protected].

Check out our Google Map below for locations of all our favorite burger spots for National Hamburger Day 2024.