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

Brent Bernasconi

OB Hodad Burgers Invade Downtown


After starring on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (check out the video), the local favorite Hodad’s became an everyone favorite. With its new-found celebrity, the popular Hodad burger expanded into downtown San Diego.

The Surfboards Mean Something!

The new location brings all of the fun (no shoes, no shirts, no problem) and interior design of OB into downtown. The walls are covered with license plates, posters, skateboards, surfboards, and various other pieces of beach art. Even the booths are similarly designed with the “Hodad” blue benches. If you are feeling social, take a seat at the long table in the middle and get to know your neighbors.

Hodad's Menu

Of course you visit Hodads for the food, burgers in particular. The burgers stick to the basics (it took almost 30 years for Hodads to develop two nontraditional burgers and only at the request of Guy Fieri) with a hefty patty, lettuce, onions, pickles, mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise all stuffed between a bun. You can add cheese, bacon, and another patty if you are brave (and hungry) enough. They also offer vegetarian and meatless options. Make sure to supplement the meal with some fries, onion rings, or both. Also, forgo the soda and order a beer or a real milkshake to wash everything down.

Surf Dining

If you are staying in downtown and can’t make it to OB, this is a great way to get a taste of a true beach burger without having to go far. You can find the new Hodad’s at 945 Broadway Avenue, San Diego 92101.