★ ★ Whiz Burger sits at the corner of 18th Street and South Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco’s Mission District. Miraculously, they’ve been flipping burgers there for nearly 60 years.
I’ve driven by 50’s era burger stand hundreds of times over the years. Each time I make a mental note to give it a try—seduced, perhaps, by its disintegrating all-American charm and sheer longevity, but ultimately dissuaded by the swirling trash and laminated color printouts advertising chicken teriyaki.
Unsurprisingly, we opted for a burger. Whiz offers them up in ten varieties: from cheese to chili, bacon to turkey. We opted for the ‘Whiz’ in part because of its eponymy but also because they drew a box around it on the menu.
The Whiz Burger is 1/3 pound of ground chuck served with bacon, avocado, chopped iceberg lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, mustard, and mayo on a french(ish) roll. I say ‘ish’ because it is shaped like a french roll, but really it’s just oblong bread. The obvious geometric challenge of how to fit a round patty into an oval bun is resolved by folding the meat over on itself. I wish they took advantage of this peculiarity in some way (melting the cheese between the layers of meat, for example) but alas it is simply a matter of pragmatics.
The burger, while decently cooked, was disappointing overall. The ingredients were fresh but not thoughtfully apportioned. Like the sloppily-folded patty, the toppings seemed haphazardly arranged. The avocado (which ought to have been bacon-adjacent) kept squirting out from under the patty. The chopped lettuce did what chopped lettuce does, which is fall all over the place. Somehow everything—including the overly-generous bun—coalesced into a single, soft, unsatisfying texture.