(Latest post from SF Burger Examiner page pasted below)
Call it SF, The City, Bay area, but whatever you do, any local will agree you do not call our 49 square mile wonder San Fran or the shudder-inducing, Frisco. Similarly, do not think of calling burgers from Gott’s Roadside Tray Gourmet anything other than D is for Diablo style – Delicious.
Napa beginnings…and a name change
The Gotts brothers have been serving up piping hot, greasy-spoon burgers for over a decade at the classic St. Helena Hwy 29 location; a fifties style drive-in turned roadside diner. The siblings took over the lease at Taylor’s Refresher in 1999, and kept the name until legal brand battles influenced them to change it in March of 2010. The name may have undergone a refresher but the menu and owners have maintained the same popular menu, and even added a few enhancements.
Initially started as a simple hamburger stand out in the heat of Napa Valley, the Gotts brothers prove that simple, high-quality American food is the golden ticket; banging out over 500 burgers a day with a single grill, griddle and fryer as their tools of trade. Apparently, sweeping mountains, vineyards, and burgers go hand-in-hand.
Throw on your boat shoes – welcome to SF
After six years of booming business in wine country, the siblings followed the ferries south to expand the Gotts empire to the city. While other burger legend 4505 Meats rests in the back Farmers Market, Gotts Roadside posts up at the southern end of the Ferry Building, boasting a spacious interior and large patio area that will make any SF real estate agent’s eyes glimmer with dollar signs. While the location does not have the intimacy of the St. Helena pit-stop, and may feel a bit out of place among the pedestrian-overrun row of boutique eateries, do not fret. The Gotts boys bring their A-game and you can count on the same consistent lick-smacking burgers.
This is no McDonalds Fiesta menu – Gotts keeps it simple
What has helped Gotts Roadside capture burger bragging rights from the bay to the vines, even with an inconvenient name change? The answer: quality, local ingredients and a commitment to providing simple, good-tasting food. Egg buns from Sciamba Bakery and San Francisco sourdough are your starches for the day. Niman Ranch beef is ground fresh daily and answers the popular call for natural, antibiotic free meat by Bay area diners. Traditional accompaniments like iceberg lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles form palate-pleasing unions with classic go-to additions such as fried onion rings, cheddar cheese, bacon and avocado. These are no prim and proper burgers. Grab an extra set of napkins and expect to get messy with beef juices dripping all over. Also, expect to like it.
The dining experience is very low maintenance; a blessing for large groups and families with children. Walk through the glass doors and survey the menu’s options, which beyond burgers, includes a healthy range of salads, chicken sandwiches, fish mains and handmade milkshakes made from San Francisco Double Rainbow ice cream. Pick up your meal at the far end of the long kitchen counter and teleport back to warm summer nights at the drive-in, where metal trays and red-and-white checkered paper cartons were the norm.
So many burgers…so little time
For good eats check out the Wisconsin burger. It catches your eye with the promise of well-buttered, toasted sourdough slices. Sandwiched between these blankets of buttered goodness is a coarsely-ground beef patty with a perfect pink medium rare center. BBQ sauce oozes off the top of the patty, providing a burst of tangy sweetness. Saddle up with griddled mushrooms, cheddar cheese and bacon; love-at-first-bite for your taste buds.
The normal burgers are expertly wrapped, and an SF Burger Club attendee described his Western Bacon Blue Ring burger as the “difference between happiness and sadness.” The combination of crispy onion ring, blue cheese with the perfect amount of intensity, a healthy amount of bacon and final touches of red onion and BBQ sauce on an egg bun will have any cowboy shouting, “hee haw!”
If ethnic is more your speed, consider the Texas Burger, which throws spicy Jack cheese, guacamole, salsa and jalapenos on top of a slab of meat. For that extra kick-George Bush-in-the face spice, order your burger Diablo style – code for spicy chili aioli.
Non-meat eaters have a variety of tasty options; from the highly-acclaimed ahi tuna burger, which comes with a crunchy slaw and wasabi sauce, to fish tacos. The vegetarian burger is your standard garden burger, decently seasoned, and served with any variety of regular burger toppings.
Clog up your arteries with a range of sides; from regular skinny frites to burnt orange sweet potato fries to my personal favorite gut-bomb of choice, chili cheese fries, which will surely induce food coma upon consumption.
Neither Ferry Building competition or legal-driven name changes can keep SF locals, “Frisco” visitors (never utter that word again), or burger purists from frequenting this American eatery. Drive-ins may be near extinction, but Gott’s Roadside Tray Gourmet lives up to its (new) name – providing simple food with a level of execution that rivals the pricier options in the city.