Beep's burger. Photo by Lydia Chávez

Julian, 30-something, and Mark, 70-something, are out to find the Mission’s best burger. For Julian’s final burger review — he’s off to the Washington Post — they head to Beep’sAlso check out their Fried Chicken Showdown seriesWhile it’s tough to replace Julian, others are clamoring for the job, so Burger Wars will continue.

Mark: 

Seeing how this is our last burger column, there was a temptation to review McDonalds at 24th and Mission, given its decades-long history on the corner. Yes, it would have made for some good snark, maybe a recounting of the burger chain’s history in the Mission. Maybe, one or two of our dear readers would have learned something. But almost everyone can close their eyes and imagine how a Big Mac tastes. 

No, thanks. 

Instead, I wanted to share with our devout readers a burger that is actually good. The very best, in my opinion. Spoiler alert: It’s not in the Mission. But who cares? The Mission can’t be the best at everything.

Beep’s. 

For those who know it, that’s all I have to say. For those who don’t, you’d better knock off the pandemic dust, get out of your house, and head on down to Ocean and Lee avenues and wait in line. If you look over at your friend or loved one under the magic light of Beeps’ red and green neon sign — and their face transforms into a half-pound Beep’s burger oozing American cheese and grilled onions — do not fret. Just give them a hug. The spell is working. 

That’s what I ordered on a recent Thursday evening — a half-pound Beep’s Burger with American cheese, grilled onions, and jalapenos. Half-pound means two patties, and “Beep’s Burger” means it has “Beep’s sauce,” which is pretty much Thousand Island dressing. 

There is no one thing that makes Beep’s the gastronomic rocketship that it is, the gestalt incarnate. The patties are salty and charred and not overly greasy. The Beep’s sauce is sweet and tangy. The grilled onions, if you order them, meld with the American cheese so that they become an umami bomb worthy of a Food Wars-style soliloquy. And, while I tend to eschew the importance of the bun, the Beep’s bun is moist, fluffy, but unimposing; the cloud on which the angel rests. 

It features all the best attributes of the burgers we consider the best: the dankness of Super Duper, the All-American delight of In-N-Out, and the simplicity of Shake Shack. But it’s home-grown here in San Francisco, and there’s only one.  

The fries, well, are just fries. But you don’t go to the House of Prime Rib for the creamed corn, do you? 

A word of warning: Beep’s does not deliver through the apps. You gotta go in person. But consider it a favor to the drive-in-style burger joint that’s been on Ocean Avenue since 1962, as well as the current owners who have maintained — even built up — its legacy. —J.M.


Julian:

Like burger enthusiasts throughout the Mission, I am dismayed you are leaving your post. Especially for the Washington Post, a political gossip rag never known for quality burger reporting.

Given your destination, and as you chose a retro burger joint for your last outing, I decided it would be fitting to watch All the President’s Men.  Although an antiquated (and fictional) portrayal of the news business, the film holds up well.

As does Beep’s Burgers. 

Unlike the Bezos Post, at Mission Local’s Burger Desk we believe in fearlessly, if not tediously, reporting the facts. In your swan song, you leave out the biggest fact of all, staring you right in the face when you walk up to the window to order.

The double (or half-pound) Beep’s burger costs $9.75! 

What?!! I looked around for a pay phone to call Deep Throat.

But as I paced the parking lot, I began to dread what I would get for $9.75: a half-pound of thawed-out “beef” on a stale bun with wilted lettuce and mayonnaise? 

Then I remembered Beep’s has been flipping burgers in the same parking lot since the Cuban Missile Crisis (which fits its logo). Maybe the price signified integrity. Or lunacy (also fits the logo). Or both.

It may not be the “best,”, but if you want max burger for your buck,  Beep’s is the place for you (assuming you have a car).

Beep’s cows may not feed on grass in Point Reyes, but the beef’s got a fresh taste, savory (not salty), seasoned and charbroiled. I forgot to order medium rare, so it came medium, but not dry or dull. True, it didn’t give off the overwhelming beefy presence I found at Plain Jane, but neither did it share the pretension.

Or the price.

Like you, I got a Beep’s burger. What distinguishes the “Beep’s burger” from the “burger” is the sauce. The burger comes with mayonnaise. The Beep’s burger comes with Beep’s “sauce.”  I tried to ask a man behind the plexiglass what was in the sauce, but as we were both wearing masks he I think he thought I was looking for an outhouse.  

The “sauce” seems to consist of mayo mixed with something red.  Not much, but it lent a kind of warmth and intimacy to the flavor. Beep’s shows a saucy restraint.

Having not read your piece, I decided to forego the cheese and the onions. What is an “umami bomb”?  The lettuce was not wilted, nor did it add much more than a background crunch. The tomato seemed not to be of an alien variety and went well with the secret sauce. The bun was substantial, a pleasure to hold while watching Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford pretend to be reporters (models for generations to come).

I am surprised and disappointed that you paid so little attention to the fries. Perhaps it’s because you got the “French” fries, which you will learn in Washington to call “Freedom” fries. 

Those straight fries may be as dull as a bureaucrat, but the “curly” fries are something else. Exactly what else, I’m not sure, but it’s not the shape, which intrigued me, but the taste. They are highly seasoned (“breaded,” said our editor) and come out crisp, savory and spicy. 

The curly fries are almost worth a return trip on their own. And they only cost fifty cents more than the French fries. 

Keep that in mind Julian, as you ride off into the sunrise. “Follow the money.” —M.R.

Burger War ratings, as of 6/5/21.

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Julian Mark

Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

Mark Rabine

Mark Rabine has lived in the Mission for over 40 years. "What a long strange trip it's been."

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8 Comments

  1. Way to bury the lede on Julian’s great news. I thought he was on summer vacation, working on a Pulitzer worthy project or maybe just found an illicit copy of The Entertainment and had entered a blissful bardo state in the warm glow of a computer screen in some dark room, smelling of himself and burger grease. Anyway, you deserve it, Julian. Congratulations! I look forward to following your career in journalism.

  2. A pox on both your houses. Beep’s was a secret, but now every hipster who thinks 24th St. marks the southern border of the city will be Ubering out to the “suburbs” to join the now-long line to eat burgers ironically. May your favorite bar close and reopen under new management with a mixologist and a Bar Program.

  3. Julian – Just remember fame and fortune are overrated. Thanks for all your outstanding reporting, even if we don’t always agree on burgers & chicken sandwiches. I’m sure that’s what got the WP interested.
    Best wishes, your reporting will be missed.

  4. Julian, we [happily] knew ye! Loved your reviews, many going into my “EATS” folder on my Mac. Happy trails!

  5. As someone who has been going to BEEPS since it opened (grandparents lived 1/2 block up Lee St.), I have to say a little historical background is in order….Beeps was always probably always the best, although there were some good rivals, Whiz, Jets, Jumbos, and even a few items at Tic Tocs….but any place the survived a McDonalds a block away has got to be good… the old 1/4 lb in a basket at less than $5 was killer and then one day I went there and prices were about doubled…I was angry, but I WAS there so ordered, but the menu had ballooned …I said which is the Beeps? “Oh, that’s a #12 (whatever) and it was awesome….was told that the now had “fancy” beef and also used some some kind of “fancy” bun….Whatever, it was great !!!! but where you really missed the boat was the fries….as good as Beeps burgers always were, the fries were equally famous (best in town famous) ,…..but not the curly or regular but the STEAK FRIES…any regular could have told you that….also the rest of the menu was great…but the subject is burgers…..Beeps #1 #2 Reds Java House (right near the beginning of Mission St. so it qualifies)

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