Polker’s Gourmet Burgers: Good burgers, great go-to neighborhood spot

16 May

Courtesy of Yelp user A. C.

There’s nothing like a great burger. (Sorry, vegetarians…) Piled high with great toppings, with meat that’s so juicy it threatens to make the bottom bun soggy after the first bite, that’s able to hold its own distinct flavor no matter how many toppings it’s up against… you know it when you taste it.

Polker’s Gourmet Burgers doesn’t have show-stoppingly amazing burgers (nor are their topping options dazzling enough to call it “gourmet”), but their burgers are definitely not a waste of calories.

After Bay to Breakers yesterday, I was in need of a hearty meal, so I grabbed my friend Maureen and we stopped into Polker’s. It may be the first time I’ve seen it without a wait, so we were able to grab a booth by the window and observe all the drunken Bay to Breakers survivors in their costumed finest.

We were served water pretty quickly, but when it came time to place our order, the waitress didn’t give us a second glance for a solid 15 minutes. I finally had to go up to the waitress stand and let her know we were ready to order.

The burger options were pretty diverse, from the typical mushroom-swiss burger to a habanero burger topped with habanero salsa, jack cheese and avocado aioli. For some reason I couldn’t find the exact combination of toppings I wanted, so I got the Tomato Basil Burger (jack cheese, basil, fresh tomato & mignonette dressing) and added grilled onions and avocado. I switched from fries to onion rings because, well, it was just that kind of day.

Maureen went a little healthier (okay, a lot healthier) and got the house salad with salmon.

When I told the waitress my order, she was very accommodating about the extra requests and very polite about the nut allergy — I asked if she could check with the kitchen to make sure the food was safe and to tell them to watch any cross-contamination, and she said “sure,” but never came back to verify that the food was good to go. I later saw on the bill that she had put “customer allergy — avoid nuts” on the ticket.

I would have been more bothered by this (and the fact that she didn’t write anything down when taking our order, which always makes me nervous!) had it been anything other than a simple burger, but still, not ideal for general practice. Those with sesame allergies may have to bug the waiter or waitress a little more for confirmation that the kitchen had indeed been consulted and briefed.

As for the overall presence of nuts, the only menu items I noticed that explicitly had nuts were the California Spinach Salad (pecan-crusted goat cheese) and Asian Chicken Salad (spicy thai peanut dressing). Fortunately that seems to indicate no nuts are being shared with the pots, pans or frying oil — thankfully for my onion rings — but the knives/silverware and the issue of handling still present a cross-contamination possibility. (After eating, I had no signs of any cross-contamination issues.)

The food came out pretty quickly, and both dishes were sizable but definitely manageable (I went into it knowing I wanted to take half home for lunch tomorrow… leftovers are one of my favorite things ever. You can’t beat two meals for the price of one!). Maureen enjoyed her salad but noted that they went a little heavy on the dressing. My burger was definitely enjoyable, but not as juicy or flavorful as I would have hoped for medium-rare. The toppings were great complements, tomato-basil-avocado being one of my favorite favor profiles, but if there was any mignonette dressing on there I couldn’t find it. The bun was almost a less sweet version of brioche, which paired well. Of course it was a mess to eat (with 5 toppings) but I definitely enjoyed it. The onion rings were big, crispy and greasy — a little too greasy for my taste, but definitely hit the spot.

We each made out of there, after tax and tip, paying about $16 each.

I definitely plan on going back if I’m in the mood for a quick, reliable bite. Their chicken sandwiches are next on my list to try, as is the Blackened Ahi Tuna Sandwich and the Tex Mex salad. Check out their full menu here.

Also, I hear they have a great brunch, and if the line on weekend mornings is any indication, that must be true. I can’t verify that yet though!


  • Food: 7
  • Presentation: 4
  • Menu: 6
  • Service: 6.5
  • Ambiance: 5
  • Allergy-friendliness: 6
  • Cost: $$
Overall: 3.5 out of 5 stars

One Response to “Polker’s Gourmet Burgers: Good burgers, great go-to neighborhood spot”

  1. Cristina May 16, 2011 at 8:07 PM #

    It’s good to see that someone with a severe food allergy can still go out, and have a good meal. Sure, asking the waiter/waitress a zillion questions about how the food is prepared and it’s ingredients can be time consuming, but it’s always a nice resassurance if they don’t seem too bothered by your questions.

    Better safe than sorry (unfortunately).

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