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California's Cheeseburger

Here are some great places in California where you can sample the best cheeseburgers.

cheeseburger at Bill's Place, San Francisco, image
Photo caption
The quintessential cheeseburger at Bill's Place in San Francisco.

A handful of restaurants bill themselves as the cheeseburger's birthplace, but the title actually belongs to a defunct hamburger shack in Pasadena, Calif., where in the mid-1920s Lionel Sternberger became the first hash slinger to lay a cheese slice on a meat patty. Today, for $13 you get organic beef with Gruyere on rosemary focaccia at San Francisco's Zuni Cafe (415-552-2522). Or for a third that price, grab an equally scrumptious cheeseburger at In-N-Out Burger, Fatburger, or Burgerville, a Northwest chain that tops its patties with Tillamook cheddar. My favorites, however, are found at homey neighborhood joints. Bill's Place (415-221-5262, ) in San Francisco's Richmond District has been serving succulent cheeseburgers since 1959. Over in the Mission, Joe's Cable Car Restaurant (415-334-6699, ) has its own devotees. The secret: Both places grind their own chuck daily.

Photography by Scott Peterson

This article was first published in July 2005. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.