The Bay Area is home to a bevy of world-class burger spots and restaurant chefs who have been perfecting the burger arts for decades. And that is very much true outside of San Francisco, where SFist already rounded up our latest and greatest favorite burgers last summer.
Meat quality, bun texture, topping choices, cook times, and special sauces all determine what makes a great burger, but there’s one thing you should ask yourself on your first bite: Are you silently forgetting the concept of space and time as you chow down, or are you consciously trying to ignore a stray red onion or stale bun?
Below, our 11 favorite burgers in the East Bay.
Spoiler alert: My favorite burger on the list. If you haven’t tried it, stop reading, put your favorite socks on, and head there now. If you’re an old-school burger person, the Berkeley restaurant’s décor and farm-to-table vibe might at first deter you. But don't be deterred! Acme bun, high-quality meat, cheddar cheese, pickles, onion, and aioli come together to make a perfectly balanced, simple, and beautiful burger with excellent bun-to-meat ratio. Don’t come with someone you enjoy talking with because your mind and mouth will be too busy in burger bliss.
2200 Oxford Street, Berkeley
Clove and Hoof
Clove and Hoof is a butchery/restaurant on Oakland’s trendy 40th St in between Temescal and Piedmont. If a butchery doesn’t serve up a delicious burger, they’re probably a front for something unsavory. Lucky for us, Clove and Hoof offer a delicious, mouth-watering burger with two 4-oz high-quality beef patties, caramelized onion jam, pimento cheese, chopped romaine, pickles, and pickle mayo. Oh, and it’s served on a sesame seed brioche bun. Honestly, the ingredients alone tempt the staunchest vegetarian to have a cheat day. Go there, have a beer, and enjoy.
4001 Broadway, Oakland
I tried to avoid the cliché "no frills," yet that’s exactly what Trueburger offers in its cozy Grand Avenue location in Oakland. Owned by two local chefs, this old-school burger uses fresh, pasture-raised beef, diner style, in between a soft egg bun.
Gloriously gooey cheese, cheap, and arguably one of the best around, it tastes old-school, it’s served old-school, and I highly recommend washing it down with one of their signature milkshakes.
146 Grand Ave, Oakland
Ahn’s Quarter Pound Burger
Ahn’s doesn’t have a website or Instagram, which fits the profile of this traditional spot near Lake Merritt. I don’t know where the meat comes from, I don’t know if the bun is local, and I absolutely do not care. The quintessential old-school burger, Ahn’s specializes in quarter-pounders that your grandparents would have had back in the 50s. I’ve had my fair share of $18 burgers in the Bay Area, and for around $6, Ahn’s offers an insanely delicious burger. If someone suggests a first date here, marry them.
439 Grand Ave, Oakland
There’s one thing I enjoy almost as much as a burger: Mac and cheese. Luckily, at Oakland beer garden Telegraph, you don’t have to choose. Their Mac & Cheese Burger topped with grilled mac on Angus beef, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and house sauce on a toasted bun, is my favorite among their terrific burger menu. The Kono Burger rocks Swiss cheese and kimchi. This down to earth spot makes for a perfect sunny afternoon for a beer at one of their communal tables, located on the hip Telegraph Ave area near 19th St. If anyone at your table asks if you’ve heard of some band, just nod.
2318 Telegraph Ave, Oakland
Eureka! in downtown Berkeley features trendy décor, lounge furniture, and a stunning wall of whiskeys lined on the back bar. Eureka! may seem a little out of place compared with the rest of this list, but don’t let the faux-trendy-lounge vibe fool you. This place has a terrific 28-day dry-aged burger featuring high-quality Angus beef, aioli, arugula, and balsamic glaze. If balsamic glazes aren't exactly your style, the classic Cowboy burger might suit your fancy – onion rings, bacon, cheddar, and beer barbecue sauce.
2068 Center Street, Berkeley
Oakland's Park Burger debuted in 2013 on Park Boulevard in the Glenview neighborhood, specializing in gooey, traditional burgers made with local, organic beef. "Our meat and produce reflect our values," write the owners on the website, and this is definitely a prime spot for families in the 'hood looking for low-guilt burger binges. Also on tap is plenty of local beer, and there's a great veggie burger made with black beans and jalapeno slaw called the Manassa Mauler.
4218 Park Boulevard, Oakland
The Hatch is one of the coolest places to hang out in Oakland – rotating DJs upstairs, great happy hour prices, small crowds, and a great burger selection make it one of those places you could easily hang on a Saturday afternoon or Tuesday night. The Royal Deluxe burger has two grass-fed beef patties, two slices of melted American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and raw onions. Cheese snobs may not approve but American cheese on a burger screams guilty pleasure. Pro tip: They serve late, and you can build your own burger with Texas Toast as the bun.
402 15th Street, Oakland
The two-year-old Henry's at The Graduate hotel in Berkeley, right at the edge of the Cal campus, is the latest home of the burger stylings of chef Chris Kronner — of Kronnerburger fame. After popular pop-ups in San Francisco and Oakland, and a short-lived brick-and-mortar on Piedmont Avenue that closed following a kitchen fire in early 2018, Kronner soon popped back up in the kitchen at Henry's, where his signature salty burgers were centerpiece of the menu — though now the just-as-good menu burger is called the Graduate Burger, with "Graduate sauce."
2600 Durant Avenue, Berkeley
Mona's Burger and Shakes
Local mini-chain Mona's has three locations in Clayton, Concord, and Walnut Creek, serving big, charbroiled, Niman Ranch burgers along with shakes, hot dogs, and more — with the Clayton location also serving cocktails and a full dinner menu too. Burgers are served on brioche buns, and there's are several spicy topping options including the Diablo, with sauteed jalapenos, pepper jack, and chipotle aioli.
See locations here.
Chances are not many of you have heard of Alameda Grill, but it makes a trip to Alameda well worth it. Comfortably in the old-school category, their $5 burger has flavor, textual perfection, and offers an awe-inspiring bite. Try the classic, walk around, and come back for another round. The $8 Deluxe Korean BBQ Burger features sautéed mushroom, grilled onion, mayo, lettuce, tomato, teriyaki glaze, jalapeno, pepper-jack cheese, and in-house Korean BBQ sauce. Hot, spicy, and amazing.
1520 Park Street, Alameda
Related: The 25 Best Burgers in San Francisco