Bay Area Bites Guide to 10 Favorite South Bay Burger Spots

A hamburger with avocado and Swiss cheese at Sliders Burgers.  (Jeff Cianci)

On par with apple pie, a juicy hamburger loaded up with fresh veggies, mustard and ketchup ranks high on the list of iconic American foods. Yet, with the number of different gourmet toppings and styles available it’s hard to say what is the perfect hamburger. This guide covers ten South Bay restaurants ranging from neighborhood institutions serving classic charcoal grilled hamburgers to upscale gastropubs offering gourmet creations. Whether your ideal cheeseburger features slices of cheddar or soft-ripened brie, you will be sure to find a new favorite on this list. If I missed your favorite place for a hamburger in the South Bay, please be sure to let me know in the comments section.

Tucked away off the main drag in downtown Campbell, Brown Chicken Brown Cow serves gourmet hamburgers made with grass-fed beef from Pacific Pastures in Humboldt. The not-to-be-missed Crispy Prosciutto burger features fried prosciutto, creamy brie cheese, sweet caramelized onions and zesty arugula. Also a crowd favorite, the Psychedelic Goat Cheese burger is topped with a hefty dollop of tangy goat cheese, earthy truffle oil, chives and arugula.

Brown Chicken Brown Cow
397 E Campbell Ave, Campbell [map]
Ph: (408) 340-5916
Hours: Sun-Mon 11am-10pm; Tue-Sat 11am-11pm
Facebook: Brown Chicken Brown Cow
Price Range: $$ (entrees $11-$17)

Regularly voted as "Best Burgers in Silicon Valley,” St. John's Bar & Grill has a full house most nights of the week thanks to an extensive menu of burgers and a rotating beer list. The popular pub features nightly specials including half-off all hamburgers on Wednesday night. If a salty and flavorful blue cheese burger is your thing you'll love the Roasted Garlic & Bleu Cheese Burger with blue cheese crumbles and a generous topping of sweet and pungent roasted garlic cloves.

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St. John's Bar & Grill
510 Lawrence Expy #110, Sunnyvale [map]
Ph: (408) 738-8515
Hours: Mon 11am-9pm; Tue-Fri 11am-10pm; Sat 11:30am-9pm; Sun closed
Facebook: St. John’s Bar & Grill
Price Range: $$ (entrees $11-$17)

Kirk's Steakburgers has been serving charcoal grilled hamburgers in the South Bay since 1948. The burgers are made from ground chuck and are charcoal grilled to order. A condiment cart provides any extra sauces and toppings your heart may desire. Sweet grilled onions and smoky bacon strips are perfect toppings for the juicy 1/3 lb. Steakburger.

Kirk’s Steakburgers
855 El Camino Real #75, Palo Alto [map] (Additional location in Campbell)
Ph: (650) 326-6159
Hours: Mon-Sun 11am-9pm
Facebook: Kirk’s Steakburgers
Twitter: @kirksteakburger
Price Range: $$ (entrees $11-$17)

The high-end option of this guide, LB Steak serves prime steaks in their luxurious Santana Row location. Both the classic and Wagyu burger are delicious menu options and are treated with the same gourmet touch as the rest of menu at this modern American steakhouse. Served on a grilled brioche bun, the Wagyu burger is a hefty 1/2 lb. and is topped with a heaping amount of wild mushrooms and smoked onion marmalade.

LB Steak
334 Santana Row #1000, San Jose [map]
Ph: (408) 244-1180
Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30am-10pm; Sun 11am-10pm
Facebook: LB Steak
Twitter: @LBSteak
Price Range: $$ (entrees $11-$17)

The Village Burger Bar in Saratoga serves a menu of gourmet hamburger creations as well as the option to build your own burger. The hamburgers are made from all-natural, grass-fed beef as well as alternative patty options including bison and Ahi tuna. A regular menu highlight, the French Moo features sweet caramelized onions, creamy brie, pancetta and arugula on a toasted brioche bun. However if you enjoy customizing your hamburger, opt for the build-your-own menu with an extensive list of gourmet toppings.

Village Burger Bar
14413 Big Basin Way, Saratoga [map]
Ph: (408) 647-2136
Hours: Mon-Thu 11am-9:30pm; Fri-Sat 11am-10pm; Sun 11am-9pm
Facebook: Village Burger Bar
Twitter: @vbbsaratoga
Price Range: $$ (entrees $11-$17)

Clarke’s Charcoal Broiler has been serving charcoal grilled hamburgers in the South Bay since 1948. The neighborhood grill has an extensive burger menu with more than two dozen different hamburger creations. First timers should start with the 1/3 lb Clarke’s Burger and then head to the condiment bar with its dizzying number of sauces and toppings to complete your creation.

Clarke’s Charcoal Broiler
615 W El Camino Real, Mountain View [map]
Ph: (650) 967-0851
Hours: Mon-Thu 11am-9pm; Fri 11am-10pm; Sat-Sun 8am-9pm
Facebook: Clarke’s Charcoal Broiler
Twitter: @clarkes_burgers
Price Range: $ (entrees under $10)

This cozy Los Gatos roadside grill serves a straightforward menu of hamburgers, hotdogs and milkshakes. The Happy Hound burger is your classic American burger with red onions, lettuce and tomato. The Mexi burger mixes things up by serving ground hamburger, sautéed mushrooms, chili and cheese in a flour tortilla.

The Happy Hound
15899 Los Gatos Blvd, Los Gatos [map]
Ph: (408) 358-2444
Hours: Mon-Thu 10:30am-9pm; Fri-Sat 10:30am-9:30pm; Sun 11am-9pm
Price Range: $ (entrees under $10)

On the outside Sliders Burgers appears to be an unassuming diner located in a San Jose strip mall. On the inside you will find made-to-order burgers with a variety of meat options including wild game such as ostrich, wild boar and elk. The burgers are served plain but a condiment bar offers a number of sauces and toppings to dress your burger to your liking.

Sliders Burgers
1645 W San Carlos St, San Jose [map]
Ph: (408) 298-4340
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-9:30pm; Sun 11am-8:30pm
Facebook: SLIDERS Burgers
Price Range: $$ (entrees $11-$17)

This vintage San Jose restaurant is decorated with numerous black and white photos from the early days of Silicon Valley, some dating as far back as the 1860s. While Burger Pit may not be quite that old, there certainly isn't anything new about it: well worn vinyl booths and an inexpensive and straightforward menu serve as the backdrop for this no-frills hamburger restaurant. A juicy 1/2 lb. Steer Burger served on a steak roll with cheddar cheese and a side of thick steak fries is the definition of classic American comfort food.

Burger Pit
1349 Blossom Hill Rd, San Jose [map]
Ph: (408) 269-8062
Hours: Sun-Thu 11am-9:30pm; Fri-Sat 11am-10pm
Facebook: The Burger Pit
Price Range: $ (entrees under $10)

Main Street Burgers serves gourmet burgers made from fresh ground Niman Ranch Beef alongside a menu of milkshakes and Treat ice cream. Those looking for a traditional burger will love the flavor-packed Smoked Bacon and Blue burger served with blue cheese crumbles, smoked bacon, sautéed mushrooms and garlic aioli on an spongy egg bun. Those who enjoy a little more flair will enjoy the sweet and savory flavor combination of the Cherry Bomb served with a sweet and tangy cherry pepper relish, bacon, creamy brie cheese, onion rings and garlic aioli.

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Main Street Burgers
20 S Santa Cruz Ave, Los Gatos [map]
Ph: (408) 354-1881
Hours: Sun-Mon 11am-9pm; Fri-Sat 11am-10pm
Facebook: Main Street Burgers
Twitter: @MainSt_Burgers

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