San Diego Burgers Teens (and Adults) Will Love

hodads san diego burgers

If there’s one thing San Diego knows how to do, it’s make a great burger – just ask the readers of Travel + Leisure. If your burger tastes run toward the exotic, then Trioli’s Crazee Burger is for you where burger ingredients include venison, buffalo and kangaroo.  But for my family (which includes a teenage boy), the classics done really well are what we crave. Here’s a short list of some of our favorites.

Five Guys

five guys burgers san diego

Five Guys has several locations around San Diego.

If you don’t have a Five Guys Burgers & Fries near you or haven’t tried one yet, then make this a stop on your San Diego vacation. There are four San Diego locations including HillcrestPoint LomaCoronado and Barrio Logan. Made to order just the way you like it and very reasonably priced, Five Guys serves up a great burger. Plus, they don’t charge extra for any of the dozen toppings offered.

Burger Lounge

burger lounge san diego

Turkey burgers are a popular option at Burger Lounge (Photo by Erin Jackson, courtesy of  Serious Eats. Read the complete Burger Lounge review at Serious Eats.)

With several locations in LA and seven (soon to be eight) in San Diego, Burger Lounge is a Southern California favorite that started in San Diego. Touted as 100% fresh, single source American grass-fed beef and cooked on a high temperature flat top grill, this is just a terrific bite. Burgers are served with fresh toppings and their own fresh baked buns.


smashburger-san-diego burgers

Smashburger wins the teen vote (Photo by Erin Jackson, courtesy of Serious Eats. Check out Erin’s complete review of Smashburger.)

Hands down my teenage son’s favorite burger, Smashburger is another chain exploding across the U.S. and San Diego is lucky enough to have 11 locations including three near downtown, two in Mid-City, three along the North County coast and two in East County. What makes Smashburger so fantastic is the fresh, not frozen, Angus beef, which is very tasty and juicy. The burgers are served with fresh produce, lots of toppings and your pick of an artisan bun. They also have awesome milkshakes made with Haagen-Dazs ice cream.


hodads san diego burgers

Hodad’s loads up their burgers (Photo by Erin Jackson, courtesy of Serious Eats. Read the full review of Hodad’s on Serious Eats.)

Only found in San Diego, Hodad’s has been recognized by CNN as one of the top 5 burger joints in the country, and for good reason. With sizes from a mini to a double double, these extra-large, extra tasty burgers come conveniently served with large cut homemade fries in a combo.  There are three locations in San Diego, boasting a classic surf grunge atmosphere, including the original in Ocean Beach and two in downtown on Broadway Ave. and in Petco Park.

The Waterfront

waterfront san diego restaurant tavern burger

The Waterfront serves up a classic burger (Photo by Erin Jackson, courtesy of Serious Eats. See the Serious Eats full review of the Waterfront’s burger. )

Located in Little Italy, the Waterfront is San Diego oldest tavern.  Opened in 1933, the Waterfront remains true to its origin: a neighborhood hangout serving cold drinks and delicious noshables.  The tavern is 21 and over only and has a revolving calendar of bands and events.  But the real draw is the burgers.  Big, tasty and loaded with grilled onions – yum.

Do you have a favorite teenager-approved San Diego burger? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Special thanks to Erin Jackson, burger blogger for Serious Eats, for the photos. Check out her reviews for more San Diego burgers at SeriousEats.com


San Diego’s Burger Bonanza

San Diego is crazy for burgers. The booming chain of organic burgers, Burger Lounge, got its start right here in San Diego and Hodad’s has been a local favorite for the beef filled buns for decades. Thanks to the recent openings of Smashburger and the soon-to-open Counter Burger, it’s nearly impossible to have a bad burger anywhere in San Diego. Here are three of San Diego’s newest, hot off the grill destinations:

An All-American Classic at Bunz


Terra American Bistro chef and owner Jeff Rossman just opened up a new burger-centric venture in Mission Valley, bringing a much-needed infusion of farm-to-table freshness to the area’s culinary offerings. Enjoy a classic burger made from hormone and antibiotic free 100% premium Meyer Angus beef or try one of their unusual specialty burgers featuring toppings ranging from pulled pork to pickled jalapenos.

A sky-high burger at Elevation Burger

Elevation Burger

If you’re heading up to Legoland in Carlsbad, add Elevation Burger to your itinerary. The organic burger chain offers tasty creations made from 100% certified organic, grass-fed and free range beef. Plus, you can indulge without the guilt…at least when it comes to the environment. Elevation Burger is committed to environmentally friendly practices, including recycling waste – some of which becomes bio-diesel fuel – and using sustainable materials and energy-efficient equipment in the restaurants (all buildings are even LEED Certified).

BGR in Point Loma

BGR the Burger Joint

This December, the Point Loma neighborhood welcomed BGR the Burger Joint to town. Their prime, dry-aged, grain-fed beef sits between buttery soft brioche buns. If you’re looking for something a little unexpected, try a Cuban Burger with slow roasted pork, ham, sweet pickles, Dijon mustard and swiss cheese and served grill-pressed, or even a seasonal lobster roll. For the truly insatiable, BGR serves up a behemoth called the “9 Pounder,” though it actually weighs in at over 15 pounds. If a single person can eat it in one sitting, it’s free.

With all these options it can be hard to choose. Tell us about your favorite burger joint in the comments below.