(Update: Urbun unfortunately closed in 2014)
When discussing some of the activities around the Death March, one of the participants mentioned that he’d been craving a good burger, and was going to go make a pilgrimage to In-N-Out while in San Francisco. I responded that while I’m quite the fan of In-N-Out, there are a lot of unique burger places in San Francisco, and most of them better and more interesting than In-N-Out. Indeed, without even having to look anything up online, I easily came up with a list of 10 San Francisco burger joints worth checking out. Of the places I’ve actually been, there’s Burger Joint, Whiz Burger, Rosamunde Sausage Grill, and Pearl’s. Additionally, Burger Bar, Joe’s Cable Car, Big Mouth Burgers, Burgermeister, and Urbun Burger have been on my hit list for a while as well. Since I had met up with two other Death Marchers, Steve and Kevin, for another trip to Dynamo Donuts, that put us in the Mission, so we could easily knock off Burger Bar or Urbun Burger. We ended up deciding on Urbun.
As you can guess from the name, Urbun tries to set itself apart from some of the other burger joints in the area with their buns. And I have to say, that’s a pretty good mission, since I’ve had countless burgers over the years turned from excellence to mediocrity just by screwing up the bun. Be it improper bun-to-meat ratio (like the infamous “Big Bun” of the old “where’s the beef?” ads), improper slicing (I can’t count the number times I’ve been served a burger where the bottom bun is only 1/4″ thick, and completely unable to hold up to the juices), or just wrong in conception (for a while, sweet brioche buns seemed to be the trend), many places have screwed this up. But Urbun keeps it simple, theirs is a simple soft split-top bun of ample but not excessive size, split with decent bottom bun, and toasted just enough to add some simple crunch to the burger.
The other way Urbun tries to set itself apart is by having a really extensive menu of burger options. From breakfast burgers (egg, bacon, and cheese) to Cubano (ham and cheese) to egglant, they’ve got a pretty extensive menu, as well as several varieties of fries, beer, and shakes. After looking over the menu, I settled on the Classic Urbun burger with cheddar, a side of garlic fries and, an Anchor Steam.
Both of these were good. This was a very nicely executed cheeseburger: nice meat, good sear, properly moist interior, and a good bun. The “Urbun sauce” was definitely present, but sparingly applied, so that it actually complemented the meat instead of covering it. As mentioned above, the bun at Urbun also has a thick enough bottom bun that the juicy patty didn’t completely soak through it, so I actually got to finish my burger without my hands being soaked in burger juice.
The fries were above average as well. Nicely done shoestring style fries, these were crisp without being too dry, and the inside still a bit fluffy. As far as the garlic topping? Wow, they weren’t kidding around, my fries had about half a cup of sauteed garlic on it. That definitely hit the spot, but I was smelling of garlic for the next day and a half.
Overall, Urbun did a good job meeting my expectations. The burger and fries were both well-executed, and reasonably priced for the quality. I’ll definitely give them another try sometime.