A few weeks ago, the wooden chrysalis surrounding a former tattoo parlor on Haight and Clayton came down, and Jack Mogannam and Sam Sirhed's Burger Urge erupted, all neon and windows. The owners spent months refitting the floors with hardwood slats, installing a blindingly silvery new kitchen, and painting the walls the color of fresh paprika.
The business is built on the Barney's Gourmet Hamburgers template: Niman Ranch patties (turkey, chicken breast, or Garden Burgers can be substituted), priced $8-$10, with names like the Pineapple (pineapple, Swiss, and teriyaki) and the Elvis (peanut butter, bacon, and fried bananas).
"Prepare to Be Filled!" is the motto, and my steakhouse burger was filling: A double-handful with a high-domed bun and a half-pound, half-inch-thick patty splayed atop giant leaves of lettuce and tomato slices. It required constant shifting to eat, mushrooms and horseradish sauce escaping with the ease of a wriggling 2-year-old.
The quality was standard, good beef cooked well past the medium I asked for. The accompanying fries: skinny and underdone. It was a burger you seek out after too long at Trax's $2 pint night.
Burger Urge's burger is not a destination, which makes the restaurant perfect for this stretch of Haight Street. There's money in the neighborhood — see the Stanyan Whole Foods — but most residents avoid the crowded commercial strip. And so Burger Urge's low-fi interior and kind-bud specialties are exactly what the market wants.