If there’s one food that always causes a great deal of debate, it’s the all-American burger, and this is no different in San Diego.
Although it’s impossible for everyone to agree on where you’ll find the best burger in San Diego, we can certainly point you in the right direction with this collection of mouthwatering San Diego burger spots.
Greg and I are always on a hunt for a good burger and always up to try a new spot. It was definitely fun to eat our way through this list and share our findings with you.
Which ones you like best will depend on whether you’re a fan of classic burgers with minimal toppings, smash burgers, fancy burgers, or super-sized alternatives with every kind of filling you could think of.
Shall we begin?
Best Burgers in San Diego
The Lion’s Share
Down by the Marina District is the Lion’s Share, a dimly lit eatery filled with antique furnishings and an intimate atmosphere. Greg and I live nearby and absolutely love this place.
The menu focuses on unusual meats that you wouldn’t find in a typical burger joint, including boar and elk. Their Wagyu burger is one of their best-loved dishes and features all the essential toppings like tomato, onion, and pickle.
This juicy masterpiece is on the pricier side and will set you back $24, but in terms of quality, it doesn’t get much better than this. However, if you go during Happy Hour (4-6 every day they are open), you’ll get a burger and a beer for only $13. Hard to find a delicious burger at that price in San Diego!
This fuss-free fast-food joint in North Park has become a staple on the San Diego burger scene.
The Friendly‘s burgers go for just $6-8 apiece, and their straight-up cheeseburger is undoubtedly their star seller. However, their onion ring, garlic aioli, and BBQ sauce-filled offerings are just as delectable.
Seating is pretty limited here, but you might be able to grab a table outside if you arrive at a quiet time.
Cocktails and burgers go hand in hand in this retro-style haunt. You’ll have a choice between five different burgers, including the centennial, a super-stacked burger with a double patty, plus double bacon.
With burgers starting from less than $12 and cocktails for just $10, The Balboa is among the most affordable burger spots in San Diego. (Prices on the menu are a bit dated, as my photo is from an earlier visit!)
Rocky’s Crown Pub claims to be the home of San Diego’s finest burgers, a title that it ended up officially earning in 2023.
This Pacific Beach joint is busy at any time of the day, as dozens of people flock here to sample their 1/3 or 1/2-pound hamburgers and cheeseburgers.
The ambiance is always super chilled here despite how crowded it often gets. Make sure you plan your visit between 11 AM and 2 PM midweek for their $19 beer and burger special.
Hodad’s is a major competitor of Rocky’s when it comes to the best burgers in San Diego.
Having initially set up shop at 5010 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA., Hodad’s has gone on to set up branches downtown and at Petco Park, all of which dishes out its iconic tower-like burgers.
Each classic hamburger can be served with a single, double, or mini patty, but they also have chicken, veggie, and vegan alternatives. Their burgers are humongous and the double will make even the hungriest of eaters feel stuffed.
One thing I am not a big fan of is that their onions, tomatoes, and lettuce is ice cold, which can cool down the whole burger, especially if you do takeout. We usually grab our burgers to go and then sit on the beach in OB to eat.
Don’t miss out on the sides! Their fries/wedges and onion rings are absolutely fantastic. Soooo good!
Ample seating is available inside, excluding at Petco Park, and burgers start from less than $7.
Burgers, Bait, and Beer
Right by the San Diego Convention Center is Burgers, Bait, and Beer, a casual joint overlooking the water.
This innocuous-looking eatery has a menu that’ll have your stomach rumbling in no time and features concoctions that include additions like chorizo, pastrami, and avocado.
Burgers start from $11.50, and tacos and hot dogs are also up for grabs.
Burger Lounge is all about premium, grass-fed beef, but they also offer an extensive range of chicken, cod, and plant-based burgers. If you want something a little lighter, go bun-free with their keto offerings.
Most branches have indoor and outdoor seating and serve burgers for under $10.
This particular burger comes with everything from beetroot and red onion to mint jelly and a fried egg, though they also have a range of organic beef burgers if you prefer to stick to the classics. Regardless of the option you go for, you’re in for a treat.
You can expect to pay between $22-24 for a burger here, but they’re most definitely worth every penny.
This time, we’re heading northeast to Swagyu Burger in Poway, a slick, laidback restaurant with a menu to die for.
You’ve probably gathered from the name that these guys use Wagyu beef to create the perfect patties, and they also use the same meat to craft their heavenly smash burgers.
Prices go from $8 for a standard burger to $28 for their huge, pork belly-topped masterpiece.
When you consider that Del’s Hideout is among the most beloved BBQ spots in San Diego, it’s little surprise that their burgers are held in high regard by anyone who’s visited them in Del Cerro.
Beef pulled pork and veggie burgers are all available for $17-19 and are served alongside your choice of fries, mac and cheese, or coleslaw. This is a BBQ joint, after all, so expect your burgers to be oversized and messy.
This industrial-style bistro even has a play area and an arcade for the youngsters.
The Food Box
While we’re on the subject of giant burgers, we have to mention The Food Box in Pacific Beach.
Their menu is packed with creations like crunchy chicken sandwiches dripping in buffalo sauce and spicy burgers that use pork belly from butcher shops in Mexico instead of bacon.
For just $14, you can get your hands on one of these bad boys, and remember to order a side of onion rings or truffle fries for the ultimate feast.
Anny’s Fine Burgers
Anny’s Fine Burgers is a family-style restaurant in Santee with an impressive selection of a staggering 32 burgers.
Each dish is customizable, and some of the most popular options include their chipotle, chili cheese, turkey, and pastrami varieties. Most of their burgers go for between $8 and $13 each, which is excellent value based on their size.
If you have any room left by the time you’ve polished off your burger, treat yourself to an Oreo or peanut butter shake.
Duke’s La Mesa
Few burger spots have a flavor that can compare to Duke’s in La Mesa, which specializes in succulent Oaklahoma-inspired onion burgers.
Opt for a single, double, and even triple patty burger, each of which comes with your choice of salad, cheese, and sauce.
The portions here are always generous, so make sure you arrive hungry to make the most of their irresistible sides.
Just west of Logan Heights is Hayes, a relaxed and eclectic eatery that boasts some of the best burgers in San Diego.
Their menu is simple and traditional, and both the hamburgers and cheeseburgers come with lettuce, tomato, onions, and Thousand Island sauce. A bite to eat at Hayes won’t break the bank either, as even their most expensive burger is under $15.
There’s only a handful of tables inside, but you’ll usually be able to find some seats on the patio.
Crest Cafe Hillcrest
Crest Cafe is Hillcrest’s favorite diner that also happens to be where you’ll find some drool-worthy burgers.
Your burger will be served precisely as you’d like it, as you’ll pick your toppings combination and choose between beef, turkey, or a blend of chorizo and beef for your patty. For an extra fee, you’ll be able to switch to a veggie or chicken filling.
Basic burgers start from $13.50 and go up to $23 for their famous 12-ounce edition.
North Park’s Crazee Burger certainly lives up to the name, as this boho-style haunt has a pretty unconventional lineup of burgers.
In addition to their array of beef burgers that feature the likes of pineapples, hash browns, truffle oil, and salsa, they also have a selection of exotic meats for a burger like no other. Alligator, antelope, camel, and ostrich are just some of the meats you can include in your meal.
Crazee Burger’s fare goes from as little as $10, and even their exotic dishes only come in at around $17.
Canada Steak Burger
Having previously been named the go-to place for San Diego’s best burger, Canada Steak Burger has quite the reputation.
Both Chula Vista and University Avenue boast their own locations, and each understated restaurant has an enviable menu of charbroiled steakburgers and sandwiches and a small clutch of tables.
All of the burgers here are between $5-10, placing it among the most inexpensive spots in the city.
The Wise Ox
Originally set up as a butcher shop, The Wise Ox in El Cajon has branched out in recent years and now offers a compact menu of tantalizing burgers and sandwiches.
Their out-of-this-world beef fat fries perfectly complement their cheeseburgers, one of which is made from high-quality dry-aged beef and comes in at just $14.
As it’s primarily a butcher store, the Wise Ox is mostly a place for a grab-and-go meal.
A new entry in the San Diego burger community is Whomp Burger in Ocean Beach.
This family-run burger joint only has a couple of indoor and outdoor tables, so you’ll regularly find locals getting their burgers to-go. Pick between tater tots or fries to accompany your beef or mushroom burger, both of which are topped with salad and Whomp’s secret sauce.
For just $3, your pup will be able to enjoy one of Whomp’s juicy patties with you.
The elegant but low-key Trust lies just north of Balboa Park and has an elaborate menu consisting of fresh seafood and prime cuts of meat, but it’s their burger that often steals the show.
Served exclusively as part of their brunch offerings, this gourmet burger is packed with tomato jam, Asiago cheese, and pickled onions, but you can take it up a notch with a fried egg and crispy bacon.
Sample this burger yourself for $17 and wash it down with other brunch favorites like mimosas or Bloody Marys.
Now that we’ve provided you with a fail-safe guide to the best burgers in San Diego, it’s up to you to battle it out with your loved ones about where you’ll go next time your cravings kick in.
No matter your preferences, you’ll never be short of options.
Last Updated on November 10, 2023 by Maria Haase