Quantcast
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

Fancy beef joints serve fancy burgers

Cowboy Star, Morton's, Fleming's, MCormick & Schmick's, Lou & Mickey's

Cowboy Star sliders — at least one of ’em should be a gorgeous lil’ burger. - Image by Matthew Suárez
Cowboy Star sliders — at least one of ’em should be a gorgeous lil’ burger.

Last year’s visit to the bar at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse for a burger confirmed my suspicion that fancy beef joints serve fancy beef, even when it’s ground. So this year I stuck with steakhouses. (I also stuck with downtown, because that’s where much of the steakhouse action is, even if Donovan’s and Greystone don’t do burgers.) That said, my gold star this year goes to Cowboy Star, which confirmed my other suspicion: the very best burgers often come from places with a butcher shop onsite. And where I could, I took advantage of happy-hour pricing, which confirmed what I already knew: the wife likes a cheap date that still feels just a little bit exalted.

Place

Cowboy Star Restaurant and Butcher Shop

640 Tenth Avenue, San Diego

The Cowboy Star “Ultimate” Burger runs $11; for $10 more, you can load it with a fried egg, uncured bacon, caramelized onions, blue cheese, mushrooms, and shaved jalapeños. (You can also add items piecemeal.) But you can get it only at lunchtime. To ease your late-afternoon sorrow over this sad scenario, visit the bar Monday–Friday between 3 and 6 p.m. and get 50 percent off your draft beer, house wine, or specialty cocktail and another 50 percent off the trio of sliders ($14÷2). At least one of ’em should be a gorgeous lil’ burger — loose-packed, perfect temperature, and showing a hint of metallic tang — on a sturdy sourdough bun.

Place

Morton's Steakhouse

285 J Street, San Diego

The gleaming black bar at Morton's lends just a touch of glitz to the 5–6:30 Power Hour (Sunday–Friday), where you can nurse a monster Manhattan for $9 and nosh the Three Prime Cheeseburgers for $8. These tiny towers — beef, lettuce, tomato, red onion, topped with a crisped brioche dome — are cute the way Rottweiler pups are cute, miniature but still promising substance. The onion bite and cheesy tang show well against the plump round of pebbly beef, wet with fat but delicately so. (Though the underbun doesn’t stand a chance against all that sopping juice.)

Place

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

380 K Street, San Diego

The orange lights and warm cherry wood at Fleming's make the bar’s nightly 5–7 p.m. happy hour more friendly than clubby. Your first $8 gets you a fancy cocktail as you munch a complimentary bowl of slightly sweet, russety potato chips; your next $8 gets you the Prime Burger accompanied by string fries and topped with salty/peppery/spicy-sweet bacon. Friendly, indeed. There’s cheese and other stuff, but it’s that bacon that dominates even the dense patty. (Though the beef does surrender its richness as you chew.) Only the sweet, ultralight fluff of the brioche bun can compete.

Place

McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant

Omni Hotel, 675 L Street, San Diego

The bar at McCormick & Schmick's is a secluded outpost in the Omni hotel lobby, and it shows: clean lines, open spaces, and pale earth tones abound. The American Kobe Style Beef Burger is $19, but you get yummy, stubby truffle fries for your trouble, and a luscious, melty mound of sautéed mushrooms and red onions atop the bacon atop your beef. (Alas, the ciabatta bun is equally melty.) The Muenster may have been middling, but oh those onions. About that beef: it’s much more beefy than fatty, but the proper pink of its medium-rare finish left it properly yielding.

Place

Lou and Mickey's

224 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

Lou and Mickey's bar affords a view of the Gaslamp sign; its darkly paneled depths promise comfort to the haggard conventioneer. A heads up, friend: the American Style Wagyu Cheeseburger ($17) here comes with mayo. It also comes with loads of soft tomato, red onion, and thin lettuce leaves, all tucked into the hollow of a brioche bun whose deeply toasted exterior yields to a yellow pillow of airy delight. The burger is much the same: firm and charred on the outside, brightly red and softer on the inside. The skinny fries, on the other hand, are seemingly all crisp exterior.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Interact with Animals, On the Harbor with Hard Kombucha, Interior Design Home Tours

Events July 9-July 11, 2020
Cowboy Star sliders — at least one of ’em should be a gorgeous lil’ burger. - Image by Matthew Suárez
Cowboy Star sliders — at least one of ’em should be a gorgeous lil’ burger.

Last year’s visit to the bar at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse for a burger confirmed my suspicion that fancy beef joints serve fancy beef, even when it’s ground. So this year I stuck with steakhouses. (I also stuck with downtown, because that’s where much of the steakhouse action is, even if Donovan’s and Greystone don’t do burgers.) That said, my gold star this year goes to Cowboy Star, which confirmed my other suspicion: the very best burgers often come from places with a butcher shop onsite. And where I could, I took advantage of happy-hour pricing, which confirmed what I already knew: the wife likes a cheap date that still feels just a little bit exalted.

Place

Cowboy Star Restaurant and Butcher Shop

640 Tenth Avenue, San Diego

The Cowboy Star “Ultimate” Burger runs $11; for $10 more, you can load it with a fried egg, uncured bacon, caramelized onions, blue cheese, mushrooms, and shaved jalapeños. (You can also add items piecemeal.) But you can get it only at lunchtime. To ease your late-afternoon sorrow over this sad scenario, visit the bar Monday–Friday between 3 and 6 p.m. and get 50 percent off your draft beer, house wine, or specialty cocktail and another 50 percent off the trio of sliders ($14÷2). At least one of ’em should be a gorgeous lil’ burger — loose-packed, perfect temperature, and showing a hint of metallic tang — on a sturdy sourdough bun.

Place

Morton's Steakhouse

285 J Street, San Diego

The gleaming black bar at Morton's lends just a touch of glitz to the 5–6:30 Power Hour (Sunday–Friday), where you can nurse a monster Manhattan for $9 and nosh the Three Prime Cheeseburgers for $8. These tiny towers — beef, lettuce, tomato, red onion, topped with a crisped brioche dome — are cute the way Rottweiler pups are cute, miniature but still promising substance. The onion bite and cheesy tang show well against the plump round of pebbly beef, wet with fat but delicately so. (Though the underbun doesn’t stand a chance against all that sopping juice.)

Place

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

380 K Street, San Diego

The orange lights and warm cherry wood at Fleming's make the bar’s nightly 5–7 p.m. happy hour more friendly than clubby. Your first $8 gets you a fancy cocktail as you munch a complimentary bowl of slightly sweet, russety potato chips; your next $8 gets you the Prime Burger accompanied by string fries and topped with salty/peppery/spicy-sweet bacon. Friendly, indeed. There’s cheese and other stuff, but it’s that bacon that dominates even the dense patty. (Though the beef does surrender its richness as you chew.) Only the sweet, ultralight fluff of the brioche bun can compete.

Place

McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant

Omni Hotel, 675 L Street, San Diego

The bar at McCormick & Schmick's is a secluded outpost in the Omni hotel lobby, and it shows: clean lines, open spaces, and pale earth tones abound. The American Kobe Style Beef Burger is $19, but you get yummy, stubby truffle fries for your trouble, and a luscious, melty mound of sautéed mushrooms and red onions atop the bacon atop your beef. (Alas, the ciabatta bun is equally melty.) The Muenster may have been middling, but oh those onions. About that beef: it’s much more beefy than fatty, but the proper pink of its medium-rare finish left it properly yielding.

Place

Lou and Mickey's

224 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

Lou and Mickey's bar affords a view of the Gaslamp sign; its darkly paneled depths promise comfort to the haggard conventioneer. A heads up, friend: the American Style Wagyu Cheeseburger ($17) here comes with mayo. It also comes with loads of soft tomato, red onion, and thin lettuce leaves, all tucked into the hollow of a brioche bun whose deeply toasted exterior yields to a yellow pillow of airy delight. The burger is much the same: firm and charred on the outside, brightly red and softer on the inside. The skinny fries, on the other hand, are seemingly all crisp exterior.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

What opera is closest to California redwoods?

Tough competing with the English and Austrians
Next Article

What opera is closest to California redwoods?

Tough competing with the English and Austrians
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
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
Close