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San Diego neighborhoods have gotten The Friendly-er

Expansions to Convoy and Pacific Beach for North Park's favorite smashburger

The Friendly's pizza burger, available at its new Convoy Street location
The Friendly's pizza burger, available at its new Convoy Street location

“I’m glad you’re here now.”


That’s the first thing out of the mouth of a burger fan who works in Kearny Mesa, when he reaches the counter of the new Convoy Street location of North Park burger phenom, The Friendly. He wasn’t above zipping into North Park to grab one of the shop’s signature smashburgers, to go. But now he and a colleague have time to sit at the counter, banter with the kitchen crew, even nibble on fries or crispy onion rings.

Place

The Friendly CONVOY

4681 Convoy St STE F,, San Diego

Place

The Friendly Pacific Beach

1344 Garnet Ave., San Diego

You can’t even get those sides at The Friendly’s original, 30th Street location. That one took over the site of a former pizza restaurant, so it’s equipped with a pizza oven, but no deep fryer. But The Friendly’s been in expansion mode, now up to four locations, and two outside of North Park. And the number one difference between them can be summed up as this: do they serve pizza or crispy sides?


From bottom left: pizza burger, French onion dip burger, and two OG dirty flat top burgers


On 30th Street, they serve pizza. At the second North Park location on University, they serve fries and onion rings. Only at the Pacific Beach location, which opened last year, do they serve both.


That shop, The Friendly’s largest, opened in a former Brazilian restaurant that also served pizza. Like all locations, it serves the popular, OG Dirty Flattop Burger: two smashed patties, butter braised onions, American cheese, and garlic aioli (now $7). And like each location, it claims its own burger specials, notably a smoked gouda and bacon burger ($8), and the All American, which finally gives fans a chance to try that smashburger with ketchup, mustard, and pickles.


The All-American burger: an OG dirty flat top, except with pickles, mustard, and ketchup


On Convoy, it’s all burgers, fries, and onion rings. The suite they’ve slipped into here — near the back of one of the strip malls that run perpendicular to Convoy Street — never served pizza. Rather, it spent decades being a barber shop.

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Sponsored


I can tell it’s been remodeled, to some extent, because I can see the willfully working class design elements common to each Friendly location: cheap wood panel wainscoting, checkerboard floor tiles, and a coat of pale green paint so drab, I assume the shade was marked down at a military surplus store. 


A barber shop converted to a burger counter


Looking at the new Convoy location, it all clicks. I would believe if someone told me the place was giving haircuts, like yesterday. Perhaps “midcentury barber shop” has been the inspiration for The Friendly’s interior motif all along?


Anyway, there’s no pizza. Though, perhaps as a form of apology, this location does offer a pizza burger. It starts with the usual smashburger patties, but tops them with marinara, mozzarella, and pepperoni ($8). That’s the first thing another customer orders. He hasn’t been to this location before, but that doesn’t prevent the Friendly’s cooks from greeting him by name when he walks in.


I try the pizza burger, as well as another menu fixture unique to this location: the French onion dip burger ($8). Really, this is just the Dirty Flat Top, but with Swiss cheese in place of American, and served with a plastic ramekin of French onion soup.


The Friendly's French onion dip burger, served with a side of French onion soup


Both burger variants somehow find a way to make the Dirty Flat Top burger greasier and messier, but the dip proves my favorite of the bunch. It doesn’t sound like much, but considering The Friendly maintains a strict “no mods” policy, changing the cheese makes a difference. Besides, you can’t lose by adding yet more onion flavor to a burger.


It’s reason enough to seek out the new location, if you’re a fan. Even if you don’t work in the area, and even if you never get sick of exploring Convoy’s endless array of Asian restaurants. But easier said than done: this Friendly’s got Tajima Ramen on one side, and Steamy Piggy dumplings on the other.

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The Friendly's pizza burger, available at its new Convoy Street location
The Friendly's pizza burger, available at its new Convoy Street location

“I’m glad you’re here now.”


That’s the first thing out of the mouth of a burger fan who works in Kearny Mesa, when he reaches the counter of the new Convoy Street location of North Park burger phenom, The Friendly. He wasn’t above zipping into North Park to grab one of the shop’s signature smashburgers, to go. But now he and a colleague have time to sit at the counter, banter with the kitchen crew, even nibble on fries or crispy onion rings.

Place

The Friendly CONVOY

4681 Convoy St STE F,, San Diego

Place

The Friendly Pacific Beach

1344 Garnet Ave., San Diego

You can’t even get those sides at The Friendly’s original, 30th Street location. That one took over the site of a former pizza restaurant, so it’s equipped with a pizza oven, but no deep fryer. But The Friendly’s been in expansion mode, now up to four locations, and two outside of North Park. And the number one difference between them can be summed up as this: do they serve pizza or crispy sides?


From bottom left: pizza burger, French onion dip burger, and two OG dirty flat top burgers


On 30th Street, they serve pizza. At the second North Park location on University, they serve fries and onion rings. Only at the Pacific Beach location, which opened last year, do they serve both.


That shop, The Friendly’s largest, opened in a former Brazilian restaurant that also served pizza. Like all locations, it serves the popular, OG Dirty Flattop Burger: two smashed patties, butter braised onions, American cheese, and garlic aioli (now $7). And like each location, it claims its own burger specials, notably a smoked gouda and bacon burger ($8), and the All American, which finally gives fans a chance to try that smashburger with ketchup, mustard, and pickles.


The All-American burger: an OG dirty flat top, except with pickles, mustard, and ketchup


On Convoy, it’s all burgers, fries, and onion rings. The suite they’ve slipped into here — near the back of one of the strip malls that run perpendicular to Convoy Street — never served pizza. Rather, it spent decades being a barber shop.

Sponsored
Sponsored


I can tell it’s been remodeled, to some extent, because I can see the willfully working class design elements common to each Friendly location: cheap wood panel wainscoting, checkerboard floor tiles, and a coat of pale green paint so drab, I assume the shade was marked down at a military surplus store. 


A barber shop converted to a burger counter


Looking at the new Convoy location, it all clicks. I would believe if someone told me the place was giving haircuts, like yesterday. Perhaps “midcentury barber shop” has been the inspiration for The Friendly’s interior motif all along?


Anyway, there’s no pizza. Though, perhaps as a form of apology, this location does offer a pizza burger. It starts with the usual smashburger patties, but tops them with marinara, mozzarella, and pepperoni ($8). That’s the first thing another customer orders. He hasn’t been to this location before, but that doesn’t prevent the Friendly’s cooks from greeting him by name when he walks in.


I try the pizza burger, as well as another menu fixture unique to this location: the French onion dip burger ($8). Really, this is just the Dirty Flat Top, but with Swiss cheese in place of American, and served with a plastic ramekin of French onion soup.


The Friendly's French onion dip burger, served with a side of French onion soup


Both burger variants somehow find a way to make the Dirty Flat Top burger greasier and messier, but the dip proves my favorite of the bunch. It doesn’t sound like much, but considering The Friendly maintains a strict “no mods” policy, changing the cheese makes a difference. Besides, you can’t lose by adding yet more onion flavor to a burger.


It’s reason enough to seek out the new location, if you’re a fan. Even if you don’t work in the area, and even if you never get sick of exploring Convoy’s endless array of Asian restaurants. But easier said than done: this Friendly’s got Tajima Ramen on one side, and Steamy Piggy dumplings on the other.

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