By now Paula Deen's "Lady's Brunch Burger" (aka a beef patty wedged between two glazed doughnuts) is old news. Social media buzz about a ramen burger made with fried ramen noodles instead of a bun, apparently all the rage in Japan and causing waves at Williamsburg's Smorgasburg food festival, got us thinking about all the other wild and wonderful directions that restauranteurs have taken America's greatest contribution to food.
Nombe (2491 Mission, 681-7150, NombeSF.com), to our surprise and delight, is already doing its own version of a ramen burger — we do love being ahead of a New York trend. Its version is a pork-belly-and-Wagyu patty topped with caramelized onions, tomato, Japanese pickles, mizuna with wasabi aoili, and your choice of three sauces (miso, sweet soy, and tomato) and add-ons including cheese, bacon, avocado, and fried chicken liver.
In other bun innovations (bunnovations?), Wild Hare in lower Pacific Heights (2801 California, 539-3200) is serving The Deluxe Burger, a riff on what Serious Eats once dubbed The Fatty Melt: A burger in which the bun is two grilled cheese sandwiches, in a bout of artery-clogging insanity. Speaking of cholesterol, Epic Roasthouse (369 The Embarcadero, 369-9955, EpicRoadhouse.com) is still serving its $20 Explosion Burger, which puts the cheese inside the patty in a fun twist.
Some go beyond beef altogether. Wise Sons Deli (3150 24th St., 787-3354, WiseSonsDeli.com) has the deli burger made with ground pastrami, beet-horseradish spread, deli mustard, and iceberg lettuce. At Roam (1785 Union, 440-7626, RoamBurgers.com), you can order an elk patty or the Tejano burger topped with fried tortilla strips. And of course we're huge fans of the bacon-and-beef burger at Rickybobby (400 Haight, RickyBobbySF.com).