Go Eat This Now: The Original Burger at Double Decker

A refuge of affordability in tony Hayes Valley.

In spite of all warnings to the contrary, some commonly available culinary items continue to become more of a trend and less of a, well, food. If a particular snack photographs well, good luck trying to order it without waiting in line for an hour. Sometimes, by the time you get that hybrid pastry, it’s a sorry excuse because the poor restaurant just can’t keep the quality up to match demand.

But I love a safe haven almost as much as I love a good meal. I’m looking for a hideaway where I can have a cheap, quiet lunch and read a magazine in peace. Maybe I sound like a bit of a Mr. Wilson — that’s a Dennis the Menace reference, by the way — but dammit, everyone needs a little alone time, especially with a good burger. 

Double Decker, on Grove Street in Hayes Valley, is an old-school burger spot that serves as a refuge of affordability in an otherwise bourgeois neighborhood. This mushroom-shaped restaurant is located at the tail end of a Days Inn that keeps its lights turned up bright in the evening, with a grill and small seating area right off the parking lot. Once upon a time, the Central Freeway used to pass right over this spot. Double Decker’s upstairs is a small — and often empty — dining area with windows circling the room and a TV in the corner. Order downstairs and take your tray of food up, and you’ll feel like a kid hiding in a treehouse.

Double Decker’s original burger is served with Nieman Ranch beef on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, mayo, and a basket of fries. (They also serve other classics like a Western burger with an onion ring and BBQ sauce or a Hawaiian with pineapple and teriyaki.) Whichever you order, the thin, juicy patties are cooked to your desired temp on a large flat grill, perfect for a summer day.

Double Decker certainly isn’t reinventing the wheel with this one, but they do a classic the classic way. It’s beefy, it’s crunchy, and it’s oh-so-satisfying. So next time you’re in the mood for a good burger and quiet half hour to yourself, head on over to Double Decker. Maybe rent a room for the afternoon and take a little nap.

Double Decker, 465 Grove St., 415-552-8042 or doubledecker-sf.com

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