2013 – The Year’s Best Eats – Burger Edition

We are all aware of the fact that it is no great secret: my inner Epicurean blossomed with great fanfare and rampant hedonism in 2013.

Or, wait – maybe that was supposed to be a secret. Ehhh…

I was introduced to a bevy of fascinating foodstuffs in my new home in San Diego, California. I also was blessed to do a bit of traveling for work – to Las Vegas, NV, Monterey, CA, Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Vegas was a whirlwind, Monterey afforded me a few, different opportunities to sample the local grub hubs- though i weighed a record-low 138 lbs at the time- and Canada didn’t really have much to offer, although I did visit a trendy, natural foods grocer that was attached to an Italian-style cafe and quaint, farm-to-table restaurant.

I have broken this post into two sections – one is simply a list of my favorite restaurant experiences of 2013, and the other is dedicated to the finest burgers I had in 2013. Because, for whatever reason, San Diegans are SERIOUS about their love of burgers. And surfing and skating and fish tacos and California burritos, and beer and coffee and art and love and peace and the sunshine, etc. etc.

But BURGERS. Burgers are an art form, and subject to a very high standard of excellence in America’s Finest City.

Hubcap Burger - Diagram
Hubcap Burger – Diagram

Not only is a burger a serious work of art, it is a punishing enterprise to try and sell said work of art in San Diego, CA. This was part of the challenge faced by Hubcap, the source of my #1 favorite burger in 2013. I ate it there during Comic-Con, and was blown away. Sadly, the restaurant never quite took off in such a way that maintained profitability, and they closed doors after only 4 months of service. The quality of ingredients and artisanal care that was poured into making Hubcap’s transcendent burger fare necessitated a much higher sticker price in a market where you could literally walk from any one point to a burger joint in 5 minutes flat.

Hubcap Burger
Hubcap Burger
Hubcap Burger - Detail
Hubcap Burger – Detail

I took photos of many of the other burgers I enjoyed in 2013. I was particularly happy to be able to go to Hodad’s on my 30th birthday, a local standby that has been cooking fabulous burgers in Ocean Beach for 44 years.

Happy Burger to Me
Happy Burger to Me
Hodad's Bacon Cheeseburger
Hodad’s Bacon Cheeseburger

My #2 favorite burger of the year was an inspired mash-up of nachos supreme with a Slater’s 1/3 lb burger patty, mixed with taco seasonings. Based on a request from a Make-A-Wish child, this burger was a dream come true for me – deep fried, coated in a thick layer of nacho cheese, topped with a dollop of sour cream and pickled jalapeños. Heaven.

Slater's 50/50 Supreme Nacho Burger
Slater’s 50/50 Supreme Nacho Burger

Behold, a few more photos of burgers:

Slater's 50/50 Peanut Butter & Jeallousy Burger
Slater’s 50/50 Peanut Butter & Jeallousy Burger
Golden Road Brewery GRB Burger
Golden Road Brewery GRB Burger
Sublime Alehouse - Southwest Burger
Sublime Alehouse – Southwest Burger
Slater's 50/50 - The Henry Winkler
Slater’s 50/50 – The Henry Winkler
Sea & Smoke - Niman Ranch Grass-Fed Burger
Sea & Smoke – Niman Ranch Grass-Fed Burger

And here is my ranked list of the top ten burgers that went into my body, nourishing it and strengthening it, in 2013:

  1. Herbed Boursin Burger @ Hubcap
  2. Nacho Supreme Burger @ Slater’s 50/50
  3. Hubcap Burger @ Hubcap
  4. Single Bacon Cheeseburger @ Hodad’s
  5. The Compass Burger @ The Compass
  6. The Southwest Burger @ Sublime Ale House
  7. The Garbage Burger @ Urge Gastropub
  8. Niman Ranch Grass-Fed Burger @ Sea & Smoke
  9. Peanut Butter & Jeallousy Burger @ Slater’s 50/50
  10. Farmhouse Burger @ Karl Strauss

And there you have it. Believe it or not, I actually ate more salad than anything else this year. For some reason, I couldn’t find very many photos of those…