Burger Week 2016 is still six months away, but San Francisco’s appetite for burgers cannot be confined to a small parcel of days. With beef under pressure from water conservationists, the new “it” burgers in town defy the drought by skipping the beef entirely. Let’s call them alterna-burgers (veggie burgers are so 1989) for they are as varied and modern as they are delicious.
The Beet Burger from Seed & Salt
Neighborhood: The Marina
A hearty mix of roasted beets, Puy lentils and mushrooms layered with pimentón and smoked sea salt, this burger packs in the nutrients and the flavor. Add strips of eggplant “bacon” and layers of umami flavor come thundering across your palate. Even better, choose a whole grain bun, gluten-free bread or collard greens, then attempt to eat this big boy with one hand. It is a feat worth undertaking.
http://seedandsalt.com/ or 415.872.9173
Grits and Egg Sandwich from 4505 Meats
Neighborhood: Alamo Square
A barbecue joint is not the place most vegheads would pick as most likely to offer a killer burger, but the egg and grits sandwich from 4505 Meats Divisadero outpost redefines the simple power of these two breakfast staples. Coarse-ground grits and an over-easy egg act as the foundation for a mess of flavorful additions. Scallions, melted Pecorino and a dab of melted foie gras torchon (definitely not veg), all perched atop a sesame seed bun, push this burger into a new realm of savory goodness. This burger redefines barbecue for the 21st century.
http://4505meats.com/4505-burgers-bbq/ or 415.231.6993
Escargot Slider from Bisou Bistronomy
Everyday French meets every day American in this cross-continental hybrid. Chef Nick Ronan stays true to the original Burgundian escargot dish he serves – lots of parsley and garlic-laced aioli – then took it to a new place with Guindilla chiles and a sherry vinegar reduction. At first bite, the flavor is at once intimately familiar and richly satisfying with just a soupçon of thrilling unfamiliarity. Who knew (besides the French) that escargot could be this good?
http://www.bisousf.com/ or 415.556.6200
Smoky BBQ Burger from VeganBurg
Neighborhood: The HaightA blend of GMO-free soy and mushroom, the meaty texture of VeganBurg’s patty gets high marks for its authenticity but it is the layers of spice and smoke that float across the palate that make this burger a keeper. Layers of raw onion, pickles, extra sauce and a pillowy bun give this burger a familiar all-American profile. And as their name implies, all the burgers here are free from animal products, but be sure to read the clearly labeled menu for burgers bearing gluten. (Gluten free buns are available, natch.)
http://veganburg.com/ or 415.548.8000