Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

1520 Mission St
Santa Cruz, California, 95060-4741
United States

(831) 425-5300 | map

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Rated: 4.75 by psoriasaurus from Thailand

Aug 07, 2019
Rated: 4.03 by BarrelAgedG from California

Apr 12, 2019
Rated: 5 by Davit from California

Dec 15, 2017
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Rated by CaptainHate from Ohio

4.69/5  rDev +6.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5
Excellent selection of taps in both quality and variety.
May 27, 2017
Rated: 5 by Martin_carvalho from California

Jul 30, 2015
Rated: 4.22 by Canada_Dan from Colorado

May 10, 2015
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Reviewed by gcareaga from California

4.68/5  rDev +6.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4
This is taking over as my favorite local watering hole. It has a good mix of seating with an open well lit area in the middle and some darker nooks. There is also a small outside patio. The acoustics aren't great, so it can get a bit noisy.

Service is good and pretty quick, depending on the load. Servers have always been friendly and competent.

The beer selection is excellent. The usually have about forty on tap and they maintain a good rotation. They get things that are hard to find locally. They had a keg of the Flying Dog barrel-aged Gonzo recently that was just extraordinary. They are very generous with samples if you are having a hard time making a choice.

The food quality is good and they have something for everyone. I like the lamb sliders. My vegan friend likes the kale salad. The pizzas are their weakest offering.

The worst part of this place is the parking lot. You are better off looking at one of the feeder streets off of Bay.
May 09, 2015
Rated: 4.04 by B_B from California

Jan 08, 2015
Rated: 4.25 by NorCalBeer from California

Oct 11, 2014
Rated: 3.75 by brywhite from California

Sep 04, 2014
Rated: 4 by kingbobo from California

Jun 13, 2014
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Reviewed by mc4z from California

4.58/5  rDev +4.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5
This was such a great find in Santa Cruz, I'm glad I checked this site. This was my first time down there, but I was happy to find this place. It seems a bit off the beaten path (i.e. not on Pacific Ave), but it was a short walk from there and not far from the boardwalk where I mistakenly spent $12 to park. The selection was awesome, beers from all around California, including rare beers from Bear Republic, Lost Abbey, etc. There were 40+ taps, all of which seemed pretty solid. They choose not to show the brewery with all of the beer names/styles, so you are rewarded for knowing your stuff beforehand. There was a big TV at the bar showing the Giants, which led to some good conversation. I didn't eat anything, but by the number of people there on a Saturday afternoon, it looked pretty good.
Apr 13, 2014
Rated: 4.25 by StoutSnob40 from California

Mar 20, 2014
Rated: 4.5 by mctizzz from California

Oct 14, 2013
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Reviewed by TheSevenDuffs from Canada (ON)

4.66/5  rDev +5.9%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5
This is definitely the go-to beer spot in Santa Cruz. How the other spots in town have rating as close to Burger as they do is ridiculous.

Great selection of taps both in terms of quantity and quality. When I was there they had Bois on tap as well as a number of other limited release beers. There seemed to be about 45 total taps with a wide variety of styles and breweries represented. Serving sizes were also appropriate.

The Burgers were also excellent. Make sure you go here for dinner.
Aug 02, 2013
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Reviewed by marklovesbeer from Texas

4.83/5  rDev +9.8%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5
This place is GREAT.

I was looking up places on the internet, while visiting Santa Cruz recently, and I kept coming across very good reviews on Yelp! so I decided to pay burger. a visit.

This place is awesome. There is tons of great stuff on tap and a couple of really great bottles available. I was pleasantly surprised to see so much cool regional stuff and brewery direct beers. (I had a Fathom IPL from Ballast Point, a Hop Craic from Moylan's and took some Firestone Walker bottles to go)

The staff at the bar were very friendly and pleasant as were my fellow patrons at the bar. I got pretty good suggestions from both.

Food looked great as it went out, (I was seated at the end of the bar in front of the brick oven and across from the kitchen pass) but unfortunately I had dinner before arriving.

The ambiance was good. Casual and cool. They played decent music and I think the way they mark their tables with celebrity mugshots is pretty cool.

All in all, I would recommend this spot any of my friends and I would definitely try to stop by again if in Santa Cruz.
Jul 24, 2013
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Reviewed by heymikew from California

4.26/5  rDev -3.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25 | food: 3.75
This is the best place for beer in Santa Cruz (sorry 99 bottles).
The selection is ample and varied with some interesting special batches occasionally.
They have the full range of styles and a good number of Belgians as well.

We come here for the beer and amazing artfully assembled Bloody Marys not the food.

Very knowledgeable bartenders (Sarah on our most recent visit) are well versed in the beer styles and offerings as well as the great booze
Jun 16, 2013
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Reviewed by kchannel9 from California

4.95/5  rDev +12.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5
I absolutely love burger. They have the widest and best craft beer selection I've found anywhere near SC. Many many choices on tap. They also have delicious veggie burgers and gluten-free burger buns! I love love love burger. They'll let you sample any beer you'd like, and the prices are reasonable. It's always a joy to eat on the patio :-) I've always had a good experience coming here with friends and the beer is always excellent. The food has always come out fast and is always correct. I personally adore grilled mushrooms & onions, avocado & jalapeƱo.
Sep 09, 2012
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Reviewed by jfh from California

4.85/5  rDev +10.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5
Go to Santa Cruz for one week every year for a family vacation. Got to burger at 2PM on a Friday, last day of the vacation. Busy but not terribly so. Casual atmosphere, they let us sit anywhere, we chose the bar. Immediately started looking at the board and talking beers with the bartender woman.

Ordered a burger (they all have names, we got Syd) and grilled veggie appetizer to share with my wife. Megan the bartender gave us tastes, good descriptions of beers and then we ordered. I had Highwater Mild Wild, excellent BerlinerWeiss, very refreshing. Wife had an IPA (can't recall which one). Burger came, a bit smaller than we expected (used to splitting half pound burgers at home), but the shoestring fries were great. Then the veggies came; a plate with beautiful asparagus, peppers, portobello slices and carrots, all grilled and excellent. Throught the lunch, we talked beer with Megan and tasted numerous things; She never neglected the other folks at the counter, but she sure took care of us. I had a Tiger Baby from Mikeller and Farmhouse IPA from Sainte Adairious (a new place in Capitola) and finally another mild wild. Wife had Trade Winds from The Bruery and something else.

Lunch came to $45 without tip. We would have been there every day if we had found it earlier in the week.
Jul 10, 2012
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Reviewed by madebybrian from California

3.38/5  rDev -23.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3
this place has a very great selection of taps that rotate pretty often. And there are many Tap Takeover events where different breweries will send up to 20 taps there for a night. I learned that you can go the following days and get the same stuff because they don't have enough people going there to empty the taps in one night. The food is okay. not great, but its better than pub food. You would expect a place called burger to have great burgers and not just okay ones.

My recommendation is to sit at the bar and order your food and drinks there
Jun 11, 2012
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Reviewed by Billolick from New York

4/5  rDev -9.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5
Go here for the top notch draft selections in town, funky, beachy, sorta hipsterish, down to earth vibe. Didnt get to try the food, but it seems to be in the "comfort food/over the top burger" realm that might to be catching on as a new food trend. Bunches of dif. burgers with toppings that are all over the place.

With draft selections from places like, Jolly Pumpkin, Firestone Walker, Bear Republic, Allagash, Port, Deschutes, North Coast, Stone, Lagunitas and a herd of other BA worthy selections, you go to this place for the beer.

Service was on the flakey side
Oct 15, 2011
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Reviewed by John_M from Oregon

4.04/5  rDev -8.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 5
Finally had a chance to stop by this "new to me" craft beer hot spot. If memory serves, this building used to be a Bank of America building, which has now been converted into a diner-ish looking beer bar. Burger is moderately sized, with probably around 15 tables in the dining room, and then around 10 seats at the bar area towards the back. For reasons I'm not sure I quite understand, the owner has decided to put up 3 good size, flat screen TV's that show non-stop surfing. I gather he/she is trying to convey a certain vibe, but it seems like kind of an expensive effort (not to mention a complete waste), given that no one pays any attention to the TV's here. Regardless, the atmosphere/vibe at Burgers is otherwise pretty relaxed and informal, and it's a comfortable enough place to hang out and get a beer.

All that aside, the beer selection here is really the show, and in that regard Burger is pretty hard to beat, at least for the area. They had roughly 50 beers on draft the Sunday I was here, with no crap on tap. Burger also has an extensive selection of bottled beer and cans, but given the selection on tap, I gave the bottle list no more than a passing glance. Quality was likewise pretty good, with a nice intermix of craft beer, Belgians and other European imports. Also, it would appear that Burger is making an extra effort with their glassware, though I found some things a bit confusing. Glass sizes ran the gamut from 25cl., .3l, 12 ounces, 15 ounces, 16 ounces and 20 ounces (probably a few other sizes that I forgot about). That being said, for reasons that are still a mystery to me, my sculpin came in a 12 ounce size, flower vase shaped glass. It was fine and certainly didn't hurt the beer... I just didn't understand the point.

Sevice was OK. My bartender, while certainly friendly and pleasant, seemed to be easily distracted, making waits for a beer a bit protracted at times. Burger was doing a pretty good business the Sunday I was here (around 12:30), but there was plenty of staff and the bar area wasn't too crowded, so I'm not entirely sure what the problem was (maybe she was new... she seemed to be having a very difficult time figuring out the computer/cash register).

I didn't try any food, but based on what I saw, I'm not sure I'm all that eager to. The burgers here looked pretty ordinary to me, and they didn't seem to be particularly good size either. Orders come in what appeared to be a baking bread tin (loaf size), and so the side of fries, as well as the burger, were rather modest in size I thought (the better to fit into the baking tins). It was another one of those "touches" here that had me scratching my head.

Prices here are high and there's just no getting around that. Given the variety of glass sizes it was a bit difficult to figure out what was a deal and what wasn't, but my glass of sculpin was $5.50, and an imperial pint of mirror pond was $6 (not including tax I should add). So that will give you some idea what to expect here. On the other hand, Burger has a pretty liberal happy hour, which runs from 4:00 to 7:00 every day except Sunday, when it runs all day. They also have a "hip hop" happy hour in the evening, and Monday's they run a deal on Belgian beers. Just be aware that only select beers are subject to happy hour pricing (sculpin isn't on the happy hour menu, just as an example).

By the way.... the bathroom situation at Burger is wholely inadequate. I'm sure it was fine for a small bank branch, but a beer bar with a men's room that has one urinal and one commode is just asking for trouble. Something to keep in mind I suspect if one is here on a weekend night.

Shrug. The beer selection here is great, and so based on that I'd recommend this place. However, the service, pricing and goofy food presentation will likely keep me from making this a regular stop during my visits back to Santa Cruz.
Jul 25, 2011
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Reviewed by beerific from California

4.58/5  rDev +4.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5
I have lived in Santa Cruz the whole time Burger. has been here, but it took me a long time to make it here.

First, let me state that it is not as hipsterish as the earlier reviews state; there is much worse in the Bay Area.
They definitely have the best selection of beers on tap in Santa Cruz. There really isn't a comparison for the area.
The food and service are pretty good as well. It makes me wish I lived on the Westside so I had more reason to come over here. The place was relatively empty at 3:00PM on a Friday, but it is summer so school is out.

My only complaint would be that the tap board does not list the brewery; this can be helpful when you are trying to match brewery names to beers after a couple pints.
Jul 15, 2011
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Reviewed by DoubleJ from Wisconsin

4.15/5  rDev -5.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3
A whacky place. Being right down the hill from UC Santa Cruz, everyone else in my family has had the chance to visit the convenient location of Burger. As this was my first visit to Santa Cruz is 16 months (and possibly my last for awhile as my brother graduates from there tomorrow), I got my chance to visit this rising celebrity when we ate here for lunch.

The vibe is very offbeat. Off to one part of the dining area are different mirrors. Another part displays bottles of beer. A movie being projected onto a wall is seen in another part of the restaurant. This is a small bar that could hold 6 people off to one side. Plenty of sunlight entering through, no nead to fear of goths. Even the exterior of the place is a looker, especially the different pieces of beer glassware that can be seen through the window at Bay St.

Food and beer are ordered in two different places. The food menu, consisting mostly of burgers, are easy to read. Order at the counter and they'll bring it out soon enough. The beer can be ordered at the bar, and with the large obscure selection, I recommend giving yourself a little time to decide on what beer to have. It did take several minutes to get somebody at the bar to serve me, though when she finally arrived, she sounded very enthusiastic about beer and the Moonlight Lunatic Lager that I had ordered.

The draft menu is long and divided into several categories. Brands such as Moonlight, Dieu du Ciel, Ballast Point, De Struise, Lagunitas, Mort Subite, and High Water are available on-tap. Rochefort, Samuel Smith, and AleSmith were among the bottles being offered. Paired with an extensive glassware selection, good serving temperature, freshness, and pour sizes listed on the menu, every pour should be an excellent one. Prices ranged from $5 to $7.75 for drafts.

I like a good beer with a good burger, so up to this point, Burger looks like a winner. Unfortuntely, the burger and sweet potato fries didn't come close to standing out. On second thought, what did stand out was that the beef was so lean that it wasn't particularly tasty or tender, even topped with strips of bacon. Edible for sure, but not standout. If lean beef is your thing, than these burgers might be for you. However, I'll gladly take my more tender, less expennsive, no moot no lies GRAIN feed beef over this.

Here's where I'm on a fence; I love the unique beer selection, utilization of glassware, and knowlegable bartender. What makes me sad is that pseudo-green philosophies seem to come in priority over making great tasting burgers. If I can block out the latter, I would definately swing by more often (for the beer) if I lived near Santa Cruz.
Jun 12, 2011
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Reviewed by juhl31 from California

4.33/5  rDev -1.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4
-this was a great hipstery looking hang out and grab a burger and beer place. it seemed like it should be in LA, but i am glad it is not

-very good list of beers. i enjoyed a sculpin to which a non BA had to order one after trying mine, a wee geech boonville session style IPA (not great), and a sierra limited old ale called pro am audition. there was also plenty of other things i could have drank if it were a different kind of night

-the service was fine, but it is not the kind of place where service comes to play that much other than the bartender whom was pleasant. then there was a burger order counter and some dude that drops off your food

-i guess i put most of my "selection" under "quality" so i will say that the quality was nice in that the taps poured well and everything was clean. sculpin seemed very fresh which was the biggest thing

-solid food. lots of burger choices with quirky names for each, ie: i got "the Dude" which came with bacon, avocado, and jack. tasty, quality meat and great sweet potato fries

-the burgers were mostly 7.75 which came with fries. the beers were very reasonable and sunday all day there is a great happy hour...$4-5 beers and i got to get the wife a $5 quality wine

wish this place was closer!
Apr 13, 2011
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Reviewed by willjschmidt from California

4.58/5  rDev +4.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4
A burger joint in Santa Cruz with a truly outstanding craft beer selection.

We visited here last night for the first time. They were having a Deschutes Brewery night as part of SF Beer Week. The burgers are ordered at the counter. They have a lot of very eclectic toppings. The burgers are all from grass fed beed and cost $7-8. They come with regular fries or sweet potato fries. The burgers were very good. I've read a lot of reviews saying they are overcooked but mine was not.

The bar is located in the part of the restaurant where the seating area is. The place was packed last night but I had no trouble at all ordering beers. All the servers and bartenders were very friendly and nice. The beer list is in chalk on the wall directly to the right of the bar. They have over 50 beers on tap, all craft. Last night for the event they had 11 Deschutes beers including 2 vintages of Abyss. The rest of the selections are wide ranging and include German, Belgian, and American craft. Even several beers to get a beer geek excited.

I would highly recommend this place. It's a great time with good burgers and likely the area's top beer selection.
Feb 17, 2011
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Reviewed by bradybeer from California

4.45/5  rDev +1.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4
visited last night with my wife and friends for a SF Beer Week event-Deshutes night. It is a little hip when you walk in-which is interesting since UCSC up the street isn't hip, but hippy.

Beer selection was very very good-I noticed Beer Geek Breakfast on tap-plus about 10 other beers not including a very good Deshutes selection including The Abyss, Mirror-Mirror 09, Hop-trip, and Black Butte Porter XXI-order a Deshutes and get a glass-ended up with 5 glasses a couple of key chains and some very good beer.

Service was very very good especially because it was a madhouse.

My burger, may have been more done than I prefer but it was yummy.

All and all this is a great place for a beer in Santa Cruz-you are also not far from Parish Public House a mile a way or so so you could hit both.

I can't believe it took us so long to visit-but then again I don't get to the Westside much.
Feb 17, 2011
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Reviewed by Lothore from California

4.43/5  rDev +0.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 2.5
Burger is a cool looking place and had a very "hip" vibe (not usually my thing but it's not overdone). The beer selection here is really second to none in the area. There were 3 moonlight taps, lots of belgian beer, and a really well thought out selection of foreign and US craft beer. Everything was served in proper glassware and the guy behind the bar had some good suggestions and steered me toward an all moonlight session (which is where I was leaning anyhow). My burger was overcooked and judging by other reviews and comments from friends, this is how it usually is. More than worth the trip for just the beer.
Jan 11, 2011
burger. in Santa Cruz, CA
Place rating: 4.4 out of 5 with 28 ratings