San Diego Burger Week 2014 recap
10 days to dine and multiple burgers later, I think I've gotten a pretty good taste of San Diego Burger Week! After I heard about it on twitter from Mary (This Tasty Life), I got to work right away figuring out where I should go into a detailed spreadsheet. So many options and most were new places for me! I even thought about burger hopping, with food map and everything!
This is my North Park map, centered around the intersection of University and 30th St! The whole trek is only a mile, but I didn't think we could hit that many places in one night!
And now it begins... the rundown of our burger tasting adventure (sequential order).
Henry's Pub - Cluckmoo burger (juicy fried chicken breast on top of 8-ounces of all-natural ground beef, american cheese, tomatoes, lettuce & onion)
Since I had Friday off, I decided to meet up with Dennis in downtown for our first burger of the promo. We were aiming for a different restaurant initially but still lucked out with Henry's Pub (more details here). Seriously, one of our favorites of the week, down to the last bite! Dennis even went a second time a week later! I do have to say the service was a little slow initially because we had to seat ourselves with no hostess in view. During the weekdays, they are only open on Fridays so that may be part of the reason?
Toronado - Miguels Mango Burger (beef, bacon, cotija cheese, mango habanero sauce on a Bread and Cie bun)
I actually did attempt a "burger hop" in North Park. We met up with a few friends at Toronado, a smaller bar north of University Ave. Food was ordered at the back counter and we sat down to drink at one of the tables. Dennis and I split their Miguel's Mango Burger. This was a very good burger with a spicy sweet sauce on the juicy patty. I liked the dark toasted seeds on the lightly buttered bread. The combination together worked very well and I think I even ate the red onions.
West Coast Tavern - American Classic Griddle Burger (4oz Angus beef patty, aged cheddar, crisp iceberg lettuce, grilled red onion, fresh tomato, classic burger sauce) and Kennebec fries
I was ready for another burger so we looked at the map and walked to West Coast Tavern. There was a 45 minute wait for a table so we grabbed a seat at the bar. We split a huge pitcher of a mule drink while waiting for the food. I thought the burger looked like fast food and it tasted very average too. In the middle section, I did catch a hint of the 'classic burger sauce' once while biting near the middle but otherwise, nothing. This came with fries too but the distribution was very uneven between the plates of our group! I was expecting a little more since we had sampled some tasty desserts during the 2011 Taste of North Park event but the burger wasn't it.
Broken Yolk Cafe - Sunrise burger (1/2 lb. fresh angus beef patty, two fried eggs, applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayo, sesame seed bun)
I noticed that this burger listed EGGS in the description so I really wanted to give it a try! The thin bacon slices and over-easy eggs covered the patty almost completely! I was super excited to pop the eggs but felt a little disappointed after taking a bite. I think this could have used a little bit more seasoning overall. The buns also got soggy quickly from the burger and egg juices. With a little more effort, this burger had some potential.
High Dive - Smokehouse burger (1/2 Lb. burger topped with smoked pulled pork, a fresh onion ring, and a spicy BBQ sauce)
Dennis biked at Fiesta Island on this day so I picked a restaurant nearby called High Dive. We popped into this dive bar decorated with hanging christmas lights and some arcade games in the back! Their Smokehouse Burger patty had pulled pork draped over it and was topped with two huge onion rings. The patty was seasoned and cooked to the right temperature. Unfortunately the bbq sauce on the pulled pork was a little bit more ketchup-y and thin so it took away a little for me. Dennis liked the thick and firm salted fries that came with it. They covered 60% of the plate which made it a massive meal! We also decided to sample their pulled pork sliders for $1.50 slider tuesdays but these were very plain, kind of like the store-bought rolls stuffed with some meat. It was a bit oily too and not as good as our home-made 12-hour pulled pork.
Studio Diner - Grip Burger (1/2 lb 100% beef burger, Brioche Bun, comes with red onions, lettuce, tomato) served with Studio Fries
I hadn't reached my burger limit yet so I requested Studio Diner for our lunch crew outing. We were seated in the back patio area. Almost everyone in my party got the burger special except one rebel who ordered a 'boobie' sandwich hahah. As for the burger, I'd say it was okay. This one also could have used a tad bit more seasoning to me but my coworkers seemed to enjoy it. The fries were thin and crispy so were a little better than average.
I started to think about the burger week experience so far. The first two burgers were the best and everything since then were items I most likely wouldn't order again. I was afraid I was burgered out and nothing would ever taste good again! The horror of it all!
Carnitas Snack Shack - Shack Pork Burger (house ground pork, candied bacon, gorgonzola, pretzel bun)
I decided to give it one more shot. I'd heard lots of good things about this place so I met up with a friend at Carnitas Snack Shack. We both ordered the burger special. Since it piqued my interest, I first sampled the chunky aoli separately. Whoo kinda spicy for me so I was hesitant to try the rest of the burger. I bravely took a bite. Score! This was now the upside to my burger week and one of the top burgers I've ever had! There were many things going on in this burger but it just worked. Inside, I could see flecks of ingredients mixed into the meatloaf-like patty, which was visually neat compared to the typical meaty patty. I also feared the typically strong gorgonzola cheese but all together, I forgot it was even in there (mixed in really well). I'd also get the occasional nibble of sweet, sweet bacon. Of course, the pretzel bun had a nice crisp crust and kept that bundle of joy together. My friend ordered their fries to share but I thought they were way overseasoned. I took one bite and suddenly, I was half choking from the spice dust and needed water to rinse it down. The burger was what I came for so I just blew that off...
It was a superb burger but THIS is the line we waited in to get food! That, my friends, was almost a one hour wait! I think it's kind of whack too because once you get to the front, it's just someone taking your order. I'd imagine that the process could go just a whee bit faster but the building literally IS a shack with a kitchen! I was very surprised to see the back patio area too, which could seat around 40 people or so. After ordering though, food was out in under 10 minutes.
Soooooo... that was my Burger Week 2014. No more burgers for me for another week or longer! I hope everyone had a chance to try at least one burger, but if not, there's always next year!