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Burgers for all in South Park

Five adults, three kids, and a dog at Station Tavern

Keeping it simple with the straight cheddar cheeseburger
Keeping it simple with the straight cheddar cheeseburger
Place

Station Tavern & Burgers

2204 Fern Street, San Diego

When family comes to town, everybody looks to Uncle Ian to ask a deceptively simple question: “Where should we meet for lunch?” Visiting friends often ask for recommendations such as “Where can I get good Thai food?” or “What place do you like for fish tacos?”

That’s not what’s happening with the family. They’re not looking for the food writer’s pick. What they’re really asking is, “Where is a place that can accommodate all of our wants and needs?”

Five adults, two kids, and a very active toddler. When you roll like this, somebody always wants a vegetarian option, somebody else is off wheat, and the teenager only wants a cheeseburger. At least one of us insists on good beer, and everybody wants to eat outside. That last part is good, because we’ve also brought a dog.

The answer I came up with was Station Tavern & Burgers. It’s got a spacious dog-friendly patio with long picnic benches, a sandy play area for small children, a handful of local beers on draught, and plenty of tater tots. And for my family, it offered burgers done three ways.

This is where you can play after you’ve sampled your grilled cheese

My sister went for the very good spicy black bean veggie burger (she could also have chosen a chickpea-based patty). My mom opted for the Farmers’ Market Salad, which featured mixed greens and seasonal vegetables. She topped it with a beef burger patty. My nephew got a hot dog, and the three–year-old nibbled her way through a grilled cheese before running off to the play area. The rest of us kept it simple: cheeseburgers.

I picked the place for its amenities, but I’ve been down on the Station’s burgers in the past. I ate there often when it opened several years back and found myself going veggie at Station in search of more flavor. I’ve smothered the uninspiring eight-dollar burgers with add-ons to give it some oomph, whether it be avocado, fried egg, bacon, jalapeños, and/or caramelized onions for a buck or two apiece. I’ve also cycled through several of the Station’s 50-cent sauce add-ons, including smoky paprika or chipotle mayo.

On this day, I went with everybody else’s straight cheddar cheeseburger so there’d be no large-party confusion. I’m glad I did, because it went way better than what I experienced years ago — more flavor, nicely melted cheese, a toasted bun.

Now that I trust this burger again, we can start this relationship over fresh. I’ll start slow, with a little bacon, maybe some pepper jack. Only to complement the beef, not because it needs frills. And those extra sauces really work better with a large order of tots anyway. Make that two large orders when hungry kids are involved.

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Keeping it simple with the straight cheddar cheeseburger
Keeping it simple with the straight cheddar cheeseburger
Place

Station Tavern & Burgers

2204 Fern Street, San Diego

When family comes to town, everybody looks to Uncle Ian to ask a deceptively simple question: “Where should we meet for lunch?” Visiting friends often ask for recommendations such as “Where can I get good Thai food?” or “What place do you like for fish tacos?”

That’s not what’s happening with the family. They’re not looking for the food writer’s pick. What they’re really asking is, “Where is a place that can accommodate all of our wants and needs?”

Five adults, two kids, and a very active toddler. When you roll like this, somebody always wants a vegetarian option, somebody else is off wheat, and the teenager only wants a cheeseburger. At least one of us insists on good beer, and everybody wants to eat outside. That last part is good, because we’ve also brought a dog.

The answer I came up with was Station Tavern & Burgers. It’s got a spacious dog-friendly patio with long picnic benches, a sandy play area for small children, a handful of local beers on draught, and plenty of tater tots. And for my family, it offered burgers done three ways.

This is where you can play after you’ve sampled your grilled cheese

My sister went for the very good spicy black bean veggie burger (she could also have chosen a chickpea-based patty). My mom opted for the Farmers’ Market Salad, which featured mixed greens and seasonal vegetables. She topped it with a beef burger patty. My nephew got a hot dog, and the three–year-old nibbled her way through a grilled cheese before running off to the play area. The rest of us kept it simple: cheeseburgers.

I picked the place for its amenities, but I’ve been down on the Station’s burgers in the past. I ate there often when it opened several years back and found myself going veggie at Station in search of more flavor. I’ve smothered the uninspiring eight-dollar burgers with add-ons to give it some oomph, whether it be avocado, fried egg, bacon, jalapeños, and/or caramelized onions for a buck or two apiece. I’ve also cycled through several of the Station’s 50-cent sauce add-ons, including smoky paprika or chipotle mayo.

On this day, I went with everybody else’s straight cheddar cheeseburger so there’d be no large-party confusion. I’m glad I did, because it went way better than what I experienced years ago — more flavor, nicely melted cheese, a toasted bun.

Now that I trust this burger again, we can start this relationship over fresh. I’ll start slow, with a little bacon, maybe some pepper jack. Only to complement the beef, not because it needs frills. And those extra sauces really work better with a large order of tots anyway. Make that two large orders when hungry kids are involved.

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Comments
1

Thank you for the updated review about the improved burgers. I felt the same way - the burgers (I have not been for a year for food) were just okay. Many places nearby had more flavorful patties. I always liked the patio, and it is a nice place for mixed groups where some have kids and some don't. Sounds like I need to stop by and give the regular cheeseburger another shot. Maybe the recipe or staff changed? I always thought the burgers were overly pressed/formed, i.e., the patty was too dense from over-handling to make it a perfect puck. I prefer the looser blob-esque patties that seem to retain juices more. In any case, I will check it out again.

April 5, 2016

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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