In the quest to find the best hamburgers, sometimes you need to travel far and wide. Other times you can just drive over the Bay Bridge to the culinary mecca that is Berkeley. Here, nestled within the San Franciscoey vibe of 4th Street you’ll find one of the best meat markets in the entire Bay Area: Cafe Rouge (1782 Fourth Street). In addition to a sensational array of dry-aged steaks and home-made charcuterie, this charming location is also home to a fantastic restaurant–dishing out meals inspired by Mediterranean and American flavors alike.
I came here specifically because I had been informed that their Rouge Burger might just be one of the best hamburgers around. So it took a lot of discipline to restrain myself from ordering up a bunch of incredibly enticing 1$ oysters that are featured prominently on an impressive bar menu. Heading straight towards the red meat, I was given many options with which to adulter my impending burger experience. For 13$ I was treated to a hefty 8 ounce serving of Montana, grass-fed beef, served on a fresh, Acme kaiser bun which I elected to enhanced with Berkshire bacon, Tillamook cheddar, pickled onions, gold jubilee tomatoes and French Dijon Mustard.
The chuck is ground in-house, which makes a big difference as this burger had an enjoyable consistency to each bite. The beef’s flavor subtly hinted of the open range and was not at all salty–a pleasant departure from the standard flavor of red meat. I ordered the burger medium rare and it was cooked perfectly, overflowing with delicious juice that splattered out onto the plate as I dug in. The fatty, savory tones of the bacon helped round out the sandwich, which almost required a knife and fork to eat as there were so many ingredients piled high between the bread. To compliment this magnificent medley of meat I ordered a local IPA from Drakes Brewing. It had a lingering bitterness, allowing my palate to zero in on some of the smokier tones that the burger had to offer.
The next time you find yourself on that other side of the Bay, make your way over to Cafe Rouge and meat up with happiness.