The joy of the mini-burger is related in part to its deviation from the norm—and for kids, its kid-size-ness makes it irresistible, even to picky eaters. A variety of restaurants in the food-centric Bay Area are on board, with one notable location exclusively offering these palm-sized treats.
There is something about the slider that makes it more than just a miniature. Whereas a regular-size burger flattens and falls apart as you make your way through it, the integrity of the tiny sandwich maintains through the smaller number of perfectly balanced bites. Your kiddos will love the small size of this tiny yummy goodness, and the other obvious bonus of the itty-bitty sandwich is that you can order to suit the appetite of the beholder: one for you, three for me!
Top Bay Area Pick: Phil’s Sliders
Kids love to draw on the giant chalkboard wall at this bright, cheery, central Berkeley restaurant devoted to sliders—and sustainability. Choose between unbelievably juicy medium-rare Marin Sun Farms grass-fed beef patty or grilled Portabella mushroom ($2 each) with standard toppings: tangy, creamy house-made Russian dressing, sharp cheddar cheese, and cool, crisp iceberg lettuce; all on an almost brioche-like fluffy sesame seed bun or in a lettuce wrap if you prefer. While the mini-burgers are the stars, crunchy golden potato-tots, creamy and vegan poppyseed slaws and organic milkshakes and old-fashioned sodas, threaten to steal the show. For the fun of contrast, the homemade chocolate sandwich cookies (“Or-o’s,” $2) are the size of a child’s head. Most ingredients, including the ketchup, are local and organic and all serving materials are compostable.
2024 Shattuck Avenue
Marin Local Favorite: Weezy’s Grass-Fed Shed
As befitting an outdoor Marin County location, a table near the entrance at Weezy’s offers a supply of both kids’ sunscreen and blankets. Per the name, Weezy’s offers grass-fed Prather Ranch beef sliders, cooked medium-well and a strictly-vegan beans-and-seeds patty option ($3-3.50). While both emphasize local, sustainable, and compostable, where Phil’s is simple, Weezy’s is complex: choose from a variety of toppings options like the bacon and cheddar B-Rad, the teriyaki and pineapple Contiki, the American cheese and Thousand-Island dressing White Trash, plus rotating specials, and a table of garnish-yourself pickles and veggies. Sweet potato, regular fries, or the combo are crisp and delicious, with or without the optional garlic-lime aioli. Choose from three bun types: traditional, brioche, multigrain, or lettuce-cup. You can also up-size your slider to a “double wide” (two patties). Organic baby greens salad is available instead of fries if you’re feeling virtuous. Weezy’s doesn’t sell milkshakes but right across the parking lot you can grab an organic one at Three Twins and bring it with you—Weezy doesn’t mind.
621 Del Ganado Road (In the Terra Linda Shopping Center)
San Rafael, Ca
San-Francisco Gourmet Version: Umami
When sliders grow up and go Asian-fusion, they go to this elegant Japanese tavern to be eaten by elegant people (trio of seasoned Masami ranch ground Kobe beef, spicy aioli, crispy shallots & gingered pickles on steamed buns, $15). Umami does offer a kids’ menu—which surprisingly does not include a kid-version of the little Kobe sandwiches. Save this spot for a date night or moms’ or dads’ night out. Insider Tip: This location is not to be confused with the newly opened LA transplant Umami Burger, which just opened up around the corner on Union Street.
2909 Webster Street
San Francisco, Ca
Peninsula Food Truck Korean-Hawaiian-Fusion Version: MoGo BBQ
Critically-acclaimed “Korean Taco Truck” MoGo BBQ puts a unique Hawaiian-Korean spin on sliders, dishing out a mix of grilled spam and Korean-style barbeque beef dressed with chipotle aioli, romaine lettuce and red cabbage slaw and topped with their “secret JoJo sauce” and Jack and Cheddar cheeses, all in a fluffy toasted Hawaiian sweet bread bun (plate of 3 for $6). Most often parked around San Jose and the South Bay with occasional stops in Oakland and S.F. Check their Facebook notes page for weekly schedules.
— Julie Feinstein Adams
photo courtesy of Phil’s Sliders