Monday, January 28, 2008

Taste, Tease and Finally Please - Jade Theater, Neighborhood and Lucha Libre, Part II

A couple of days after my visit to Jade Theater, I stopped by Neighborhood for some burgers to take home - since I hadn't been able to make it there yet to eat in, but I really wanted to try it.
A couple of factors may well have influenced my experience, so I'll lay those out. First off, I took the food home, and steaming in a takeout container for twenty or thirty minutes never did a burger and fries much good. Secondly - they had a huge party that had just come into the restaurant, about twenty people, so they were unbelieveably busy. It was so noisy I had to step outside with the server so she could hear me place my order. It's also a fairly small place, and really more of a bar than restaurant. On the night I visited, it was populated by youngsters - I spotted only three people that could possibly be older than thirty. Otherwise, the interior of the place is very nice, with wood tables, lots of windows and a cool mosaic mural of the San Diego skyline in various shades of black, gray and white. I also like their list of all the beers they carry on the front window.

I ordered two Neighborhood burgers, one with fries (otherwise they come with potato chips) an order of onion rings, and a cobb salad. I really only needed one burger and a salad - but I didn't know that at the time. At first they told me it would be a while - 20-30 minutes, because of the large party - but I asked if they could possibly squeeze my order in ahead of theirs because it was to go. Luckily they agreed and the food came out in about fifteen minutes.

The Neighborhood burger is slightly oblong in shape - served on a telera roll, and includes grilled onions, aged gouda cheese and arugula. The meat is advertised on the menu as "100% midwestern grain fed beef" - not sure why they think the midwestern or grain fed designation are pluses - given that many gourmet burgers in town are made with local Brandt beef or grassfed beef (Urban Solace, the Linkery and Burger Lounge among them) - but that's what the menu says.
While I waited I snapped a couple of photos with the iPhone, since I didn't have my regular camera with me, and enjoyed a Ballast Point Yellowtail Pale Ale. They do serve quite a few local beers (it's beer and wine only) and have a happy hour two for one deal featuring a different local beer each night - Stone, Alesmith, Ballast Point, etc.

Having heard the burgers touted as too good for mere ketchup (they don't offer it - even for fries) I was frankly expecting something pretty special. The food we received just didn't live up to the hype in my mind - and I don't think it would have even without the time in the takeout containers. The onion rings were particularly mediocre - they were huge and thick and appeared to be the crumb crusted previously frozen type. The fries are thin, greasy and garlicky. The burger itself was somewhat sweet with the onion topping. The meat was a little overcooked for medium rare, and the bun was fairly hard - considering it's a soft type of roll. The salad was totally unremarkable. It was made with good ingredients, but tossed with a vinaigrette dressing that I could barely taste.

It's possible this was just a one-off experience, with the takeout service problem and the large party throwing the kitchen into a panic. I do want to go back and try it again, and I would definitely eat in the next time. If you asked me right now though, I'd be hard pressed to recommend Neighborhood when there are so many other places to get good burgers in this town - with all the ketchup for your fries you could possibly want.

777 G Street, on the same block with Zanzibar
Downtown, 92101
According to their posted hours, they are now open for lunch 12-2, then again from 5 on.

Looking for a good burger? For something quick, try Hodad's, Rocky's, In n Out - and Burger Lounge (for the basil turkey burger.) For sit down - Urban Solace, The Linkery, Jayne's Gastropub, Starlite, Kensington Grill and The Lodge at Torrey Pines. The best burger I've had recently though was a perfectly prepared Pug Burger at the Hungry Cat in Santa Barbara.

More Burger Recommendations for San Diego can be found here.

You can read more about Neighborhood on Sign On San Diego or Yelp.

Do you have a favorite burger, or have you had a different experience at Neighborhood? If so, please leave a comment and let us know!


  1. Burger Lounge is a great burger, no doubt about it. However, try Pearl in Pt Loma also. Last Saturday night, three of us were having drinks there, and our tummies began to rumble----so we decided to split a burger. We all agreed it was the best burger in town, juicy, well-flavored meat and a homemade, toasted bun. The olive flavored dipping sauce with the Paprika Calamari is pretty rocking too.

  2. Thanks for the tip! They got a negative writeup in the UT recently, so I'm glad to hear you liked something there. I think they had a chef shake-up, so maybe they have things straightened out now.