These days, it seems like there's a new burger joint firing up a grill in the Bay Area every month. While there's three restaurants I consider my personal favorites -- Chop Bar's at the top of my list, followed by Trueburger and Victory Burger -- I recently checked out some of the latest arrivals to see if there were any promising new additions to the East Bay burger scene.
Open since late April, Berkeley's Moxy Beer Garden has transformed the old Casa Vino wine bar into a spacious venue with plenty of seating for groups in their covered outdoor patio or near the main bar.
They offer a wide selection of beers on tap from Drake's, Black Diamond, Thirsty Bear, 21st Amendment and several other local breweries.
All of their beef is sourced from Pacific Pastures Farm in Hydesville, CA, and bears the requisite imprimatur of quality meat: free-range, 100% grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic-free. Burgers are cooked medium rare unless you ask otherwise (and it's a nice touch when this is the default method of preparation.) "The Burger" ($9) comes with butter lettuce, ketchup, pickles and red onion on a soft bun with your choice of cheese -- I opted for Tillamook cheddar -- and it was excellent. Free from any extraneous garnishes and toppings, it was just a simple, juicy burger.
A small order of house-cut garlic fries ($3.50) is plenty for two people and comes with a side of chipotle aioli; these were perfectly crispy and garlicky.
Their Moroccan lamb burger ($10) with pickled red onion & feta mustard aioli was a wonderful combination of savory flavors (and the server assured us the lamb came from sustainable source as well, although I don't recall seeing it listed on the menu.)
With great service, an appealing menu and equipped with their own private parking lot, I predict this will be a popular spot when summertime rolls around.
From the same owner of the sleek Summer Summer Thai restaurant located right across Hollis Street in Emeryville, The Bureau 510 began serving its Niman Ranch beef burgers last December. With the menu designed by chef Edward Higgins of Quattro at the Four Seasons, its eclectic dishes reflect a fusion of classic Americana and Asian flavors. There's the Louisiana-inspired catfish fillet, "The Bayou," ($9) with creole remoulade; the "Chips n' Salsa," ($9.50) with jalapeño, tortilla chips, roasted tomato salsa, cilantro, butter lettuce and nacho cheese on Acme sesame bun; and the "Tempura" ($9.50), a fried rock shrimp patty seasoned with wasabi mayo, seaweed slaw and a 'bun' crafted out of pressed fried rice -- just to name a few of their offerings.
Their creamy Caesar salad ($7) is topped with marinated anchovies and tossed with a liberal helping of homemade croutons (I'm taking an educated guess here and believe they were made with toasted bits of Acme's herb slab).
The "Nostalgia" burger ($7.50) is a throwback to the basic burgers of drive-in diner days. Dressed with fresh butter lettuce, tomato, grilled onion and American cheese on an Acme bun, the Nostalgia burgers arrived with a side of housemade dill pickles and a piquant apple-poppy coleslaw. Overall the burgers were good, although there was more a bit more bun than burger; it took me a few bites before I reached the meat itself.
For another $2 you can add a crispy bucket of fries to your order; it's a generous helping that can easily accomodate 2-3 people and comes with a side of Sriracha mayonnaise. Or you can spring for the more decadent Parmesan fries for $3.50.
With its spacious, modern interior and an outdoor patio for dining in warm weather, it's a fine spot for casual eats in Emeryville.
Grazzy Burgers debuted this past March and prides itself on using ingredients from Bay Area farms, including "100% grass-fed, corn-free diet, locally-sourced and pasture-raised beef" for their burgers. (You can also order bison, lamb, chicken and salmon as non-red meat options.) So while I was impressed by their earnest mission statement, the food wasn't nearly as stellar as their intentions. The "Grazzy Classic" ($7.50) made with a 100% grass-fed beef patty, butter leaf lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, housemade pickles and aioli on an Acme bun was a tad dry -- even with the addition of Swiss cheese -- and not as flavorful as I'd hoped.
The Chicken Katsu Japanese-style breaded chicken breast sandwich ($8.75) was overwhelmed by its Asian slaw, roasted tomato and red onion toppings, although the chicken itself and the Thai basil aioli dressing were delicious.
The hand-cut fries ($3.50, and you can top them with garlic, herbs or parmesan for an additional charge) were tasty, but the server brought them to me well after the burgers arrived. Unfortunately, service was somewhat uneven throughout the night, but hopefully they've smoothed out the glitches with their waitstaff since my visit in early April.
Grazzy Burgers is still a notch above your average bar fare and is adjacent to the Albany Tap Room, which has a diverse selection of beers on tap and for sale. You can order your food directly from one of the bar's servers while enjoying a Belgian blonde ale.