When it comes to chowing down on a big, juicy burger, we know you have a lot of options nearby. But not all burgers are created equal, meaning that quarter pounder with cheese simply isn’t going to stand up to the fresh, never frozen patties cooked to order at your favorite hometown restaurant. We scoured the county, asked our friends, and even checked in with you–our readers—(who are responsible for our best-of guide) to come up with a list of must-try burgers in San Joaquin County. Check out the classics, inventive burgers that offer a twist, and those made without beef to get your next lunchtime inspiration!
Some of the best in town when you’re craving a good, ol’ fashioned burger.
The Avenue Giant Hamburger 2×4
The menu says it all, this is the burger Avenue Grill is famous for. Dressed in the classics including mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and a special sauce, the best way to make this burger extra special is to monster-size it! The 2×4 version includes two beef patties and four slices of cheese. Add bacon for an even meatier option!
Bigworm’s Bakery & Deli
They don’t call it King Kong because it’s small! This delicious burger is three beef patties high and packed with extras including one egg, two slices of bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, and grilled onions. After that, the staff at Bigworm’s douse it in house sauce and stack it on a toasty bun. If that’s not enough, pair it with the Deboh Fries, fresh cut potatoes layered with grilled onions and house sauce for something that feels slightly animalistic, if you know what we mean.
It’s all in the beef! The Smash Burger uses two wagyu beef patties (a Japanese delicacy), melty white American cheese, and caramelized onions to turn out a burger that is both decadent and delicious. Before its done, pickles are added to the potato bun. The end result isn’t your average burger, but something a bit beyond.
The Sierra Echo
All of the burgers at Brothers have a few things in common, including the soft milk bun those fresh ingredients land on. They also come with a side of fries. If you’re looking to really indulge, look no further than The Sierra Echo. This custom burger combines the sharp taste of bleu cheese with the saltiness of bacon before adding grilled onions, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and the aptly-named house “fancy” sauce.
El Rancho Inn
At El Rancho Inn, they keep it simple. But simple doesn’t mean something isn’t drop-dead delicious. The hamburger and cheeseburger here are straightforward, featuring a ½ pound of hand-pressed ground beef patty served on an infamous Genova bun. The cheeseburger is finished with a slice of American, and both burgers come with a side of French fries.
Fat City Brews & BBQ
Fat City Brews & BBQ is another local spot that does simple well. The hamburger here isn’t loaded with special ingredients or topped with some crazy sauce. Instead, Owner Don King packs a toasted Genova Milk bun with a ½-pound hand-formed patty and adds only the basics—mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, and onion.
State Fair Burger
Manny’s California Fresh Café
The name itself is enticing enough. This ¼-pound ground chuck burger is packed with grilled onions and Gulden’s mustard. Manny’s ditches the basic bun though and instead opts for something in sourdough. Slap the signature Vienna pickle on the side and you’ve got yourself a real good sandwich! Plus, there’s always the option to add bacon (for a surcharge).
Loaded CAB Burger
The CAB gets its name from its ingredients—Certified Angus Beef. The menu item is nothing special (except that it’s cooked extremely well) until you start loading it up. The classic comes with the fixings and Market Tavern’s self-proclaimed “secret” sauce. Once you’ve chosen how you want it cooked—go ham, or bacon. Add avocado, bacon, an egg, and some serious gourmet cheese (Fiscalini Cheddar, Pt. Reyes Blue, and/or Cave Aged Gruyere—we vote for all three).
Moo Moo’s Burger Barn
The Monster Moo is barely classified as a burger, but since it boasts two 1/3-pound ground beef patties, we’re including it on this list anyway. As if that didn’t sound like enough to fill you up, Moo Moo adds American cheese, bacon, tomato, lettuce, red onion, and Moo sauce before its finished. All that and it’s stacked three-high on toasted white bread instead of your classic bun.
Luis’ Ultimate Cheeseburger
The Creamery has a reputation for big portions at affordable prices, and Luis’ Ultimate Cheeseburger is no different. This big boy boasts not one but two 1/3-pound patties before its loaded with two slices of melted American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and burger sauce set on a grilled sesame seed bun. It’s like the drive-thru option but cooked to order and made to satisfy your hunger.
Sautéed Mushroom Cheeseburger
The cheeseburger here has garnered quite a following. Using a ½-pound char-broiled burger to start, Waterloo steps it up a notch by adding sauteed mushrooms to make their “best burger” even better. Add the fixings of your choosing, including bacon for only a dollar.
West Oak Nosh
This burger is one of the most liked items on West Oak Nosh’s menu, which is saying something if you dine in often! Using house-ground beef brisket to start, the unique flavor and bright presentation come from adding perfectly pink pickled onions to the top. Don’t forget the mixed greens and your choice of house-made sauce. The real kicker? It’s served on a pretzel-knot bun.
Bob’s at the Marina
Bob’s is known for its GIANT cheeseburgers, and fans of the waterfront eatery know all about Bob’s Giant hamburger, cheeseburger, and bacon cheeseburger. If you want just a slight twist on these classics, order the Sourdough Cheeseburger instead. The patty is topped with saucy mustard, pickles, grilled onions, and two slices of American cheese and served on grilled sourdough bread.
Enough with the classics—let’s get weird!
Midgley’s Public House
Can’t choose between pizza and a burger? Don’t! At Midgley’s, you can have both. In this mouthwatering creation, a half-pound of angus ground beef is grilled and placed on a brioche bun before it’s smothered in marina and ranch and topped with melted American and pepper jack cheese. Plus, fried pepperoni, lettuce, and tomato. If that wasn’t enough a pizza is slapped on top, using marina sauce, mozzarella cheese, and fried pepperoni as a decadent garnish.
Hot N Spicy Burger
American Waffle Diner
It’s more than waffles at American Waffle Diner. And when it comes to spice—they aren’t playing! The Hot N Spicy burger combines the kick-a** combination of serrano peppers, jalapenos, and sriacha sauce, only slightly extinguished by the ooey-gooey layer of cheese draped over the patty. Be sure to order water—or a tall glass of milk!—to fend off the flames.
Bourbon Bacon Burger
When you live in Tracy, a burger at Chapter 2 is a must! The creative menu makes it hard to pick just one for lunch, but if we had to choose, we’d go with the Bourbon Bacon Burger. Swiss cheese and bacon add flavor before a honey bourbon glaze gives it that extra sweetness. Plus, lettuce, tomato, and onion.
Hogie Bogie Burger
Warning! This burger is not conventional. In fact, it kind of exists somewhere between a breakfast sandwich and a burger. First, you’ll swap that ground beef patty for 1/3-pound of country sausage loaded on an English muffin. Then, top it off with lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, pickles, grilled onions, and cheese. To finish it off, this out-of-the-takeout-box burger is topped with bacon.
East West Market & Grill
This Halal grocery and grill serves Middle Eastern, Pakistani, and Indian foods, including burgers. While there are several alternative dishes to try, the Pathan burger that stands out. Using two chapli kabab patties as its base, the dish also boasts gyro meat, a healthy dose of bacon and cheese, and a spicy house sauce. It’s certainly something you can’t get just anywhere, and it stays true to the cultures and flavors East West represents.
Bacon and Eggs
Five Star Burger Stockton
This small chain has humble beginnings, starting with popular cookout food from a family of brothers. With seven locations in California, it’s easy to find their unique burgers at all hours of the day, including breakfast. The Bacon and Eggs burger, or #12, includes lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, special sauce, and Swiss cheese, but what makes it good for morning consumption is the eggs and bacon patty.
Charbroiled burgers are cooked over an open flame to give them a distinct and smokey flavor. At Lodi Beer, the technique works with their combination of not-basic burgers. If you’re a fan of bleu cheese, the Bleu Burger will suit you, with applewood smoked bacon, thick slices of juicy tomato, crisp lettuce, creamy Thousand Island dressing, and—of course—bleu cheese crumbles all loaded onto a grilled bun. Not to mention the patty itself is a whopping ½-pound of American Kobe beef.
The Heat Burger
If you can’t take the heat, don’t order this spicy rendition from Porter’s Pub. The Heat Burger gets its name from its fire ingredients, including pepper jack cheese, roasted jalapenos, spicy A-1 sauce, and chipotle mayo. Everything contributes to the ultimate spicy burger, made using a ½-pound of juicy beef.
Western Bacon FED Burger
This delicious, drippy, BBQ-heavy burger gives off Carl’s Jr. vibes with gourmet treatment. Using certified angus beef, it’s cooked just how you want it before getting topped with cheese, BBQ sauce, and crispy onions. We recommend adding extra sauce and cheese to really make this burger a standout. Don’t forget, there’s lettuce and tomato, too. Make it your way; choose your own favorite from American, cheddar, Swiss, and pepper jack.
The Waylon Burger
Valley Brewing Co.
This is one of the best places in Stockton to grab a custom brew and a big, juicy burger. The Waylon Burger use a wagyu beef patty as its base before piling on the cheddar cheese, bacon, fried onion, and roasted jalapenos. House-made BBQ sauce is dumped over the top, helping to scorch the kick from those jalapenos, and it’s all loaded onto a milk bun before its served.
Anything But Beef
It’s not all vegetarian—but some of it is.
Island Salmon Burger
A Moveable Feast
Pescatarian friends rejoice! This salmon burger will transport you to a tropical island. The combination of grilled pineapple and teriyaki sauce is what warm weather dreams are made up, plus it’s sprinkled with sprouts so you know you’re hitting all of the major food groups!
Swap out that beef patty for a turkey patty with the J Bird at Flip’s. This tasty concoction compiles melty pepper jack cheese, fresh avocado, and sweet pineapple for an out-of-this-world combination of flavors you never would have expected.
Beyond burger patties are plant-based concoctions created to look, taste, and cook like real meat. At Avenue Grill, these meat-less patties are topped with mayo, lettuce, tomato, and onion for something that tastes just like a classic burger but satisfies a variety of appetites.
Bob’s at the Marina
You don’t have to be vegetarian to enjoy this big burger! A twist on the classic, this plant-based patty tastes just like the real thing, loaded with mustard, dressing, onions, lettuce, and tomato before it’s placed on that big ‘ol bun Bob’s is known for.
Burn-strami Swiss Burger
Midnight at Burnie’s Drive-Up
Just because it isn’t beef, doesn’t mean it’s not meat! Grilled pastrami is the base for this alternative burger, complete with melted Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion, and that infamous Burnie Sauce. Small appetites can get it JR. sized, while those who are hungry can bite into the BIG one.
Moo Moo’s Burger Barn
Hold the moo. Not all vegetarian patties are created equal. This version uses a Garden Patty—a veggie blend of mushrooms, onions, brown rice, rolled oats, mozzarella and cheddar cheese, parsley, and garlic—plus it’s a healthy alternative to many other patties. Dijon mustard, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and red onions give it its taste and texture. Feel free to go crazy with the veggie toppings with options to add mushrooms, sliced jalapenos, pickles, green chiles, and more. Served on a wheat bun.
Cast Iron Trading Co.
This burger comes in two options—vegetarian and vegan—and neither one requires ditching a patty or cheese. Using Beyond Meat as its base, the burger is then completed with caramelized onions, rocket-basil pesto, and vegan ‘bama sauce, for a final product that is anything but average. Choose between an artisan bun or a vegan version as well as regular cheese or vegan cheese. There’s also the opportunity to add an extra dose of healthy fats and protein with avocado.
Sweet and simple. This veggie patty is topped with just the basics (onion and lettuce) plus garlic mayonnaise.
The veggie burger here starts with a Beyond Meat patty before its finished with lettuce, tomato, and onion. Thick, fresh slices of avocado and garlic mayonnaise kick it up a notch.
Big V Burger
Ready to be put in a good mood? Order up The Downtowner’s Big V burger, boasting several servings of healthful veggies. The house mushroom and veggie patty is just the beginning! This filling lunch also dons lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, and a vegan mayonnaise set atop a sesame seed bun.
Purgatory Elk Burger
Purgatory Whiskey Bar
Anyone who has had elk before knows it’s not a direct substitute for beef. In fact, elk typically takes on its own flavors either sweet and nutty or more game-like depending on how it’s cooked. At Purgatory, the ground elk is topped with pickles, tomato, onion, lettuce, and jack cheese, plus beer mustard and mayonnaise. It all comes on a brioche bun with a side of fries.
Elizabeth’s Vegetarian Burger
One more place featuring that garden patty. Elizabeth’s is another classic vegetarian “burger,” topped with lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, onion, and jack cheese, loaded onto a grilled sesame seed bun.
The FED Burger is a staple on the eatery’s menu—a certified angus beef cheeseburger, seasoned and broiled, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, and a special espanol mayo, featuring a brioche bun. The only difference between that burger and the off-menu Impossible Burger is that the beef patty is substituted with an Impossible-branded, plant-based patty.
Black Bean Cheeseburger
The Kitchen at Stone Brier
The patty alternatives just keep coming! This creation from The Kitchen at Stone Brier is made using a black bean patty with all of the fixings! Plus, you can add bacon, avocado, and egg to make it a true masterpiece.