Roam Artisan Burgers


The Tejano burger.


A vegetarian Chalet burger.


Milkshake (with brûléed marshmallow).


Interior photo from Roam.

I applaud people trying to eat healthy. Although as far as I’m concerned, the applause is usually more of an aggressive hand clap, saying, “Marcia! No fries with that!” Or a police siren, telling me to pull it on over and put my hands where they can see them (hence my annual cleanse). So in the midst of all the new openings recently happening on Union Street, we have healthy exhibit A: ~ROAM ARTISAN BURGERS~ from Josh Spiegelman and Lynn Gorfinkle (they consulted with The Culinary Edge on this project).

The meats and produce they use are all sustainable, from the grass-fed beef to the free-range turkey. And they still manage to keep the cost for a cheeseburger at only $5.95 (and it comes on a locally made bun, from Pacific Coast Bakery, one of the better sesame buns I’ve had around town—it was squishy and delish, but still held up well).

The Tejano ($6.99) was my fave: I ordered it with a bison patty, which came loaded with pepper jack, sliced avocado, jalapeño relish, herb ranch, and my favorite touch: white corn strips for some extra crunch (I also shook on a few splashes of hot sauce for extra kick). But alas, the slice of tomato was rather unimpressive considering tomato season is in full swing.

So, when I want a burger, I want a burger. And while I appreciate Roam looking out for me, I found the 1/4 lb. patty to be too thin to really get a taste of the meat, that satisfying “I am chomping into a delicious meat patty” sensation. I think a double is the way to go in the future, which is a $1.99 supplement. I know it’s another way y’all are looking out for me, thank you Roam, but I really want the option of bacon on that menu as a topping. When you want a bacon burger, you want a bacon burger. Don’t tell the reptilian part of my brain there’s no bacon option for my burger. Rawr!

The house styles are well composed flavor-wise, like there’s the Sunny Side ($6.99) with an egg, aged white cheddar, caramelized onions, greens, tomato, and sweet chili sauce. A standout was the housemade organic vegetarian patty, made with quinoa, beets, black beans, brown rice, rice bran, dates, jalapeños, fresh herbs, cumin, and other spices. It’s quite the feat—right up there with the one at The Plant. It made for a good flavor combo in the Chalet ($6.99), with melted Swiss cheese and crimini mushrooms—a very fulfilling burger. (Get it on a whole grain bun for extra hippie points.) Kudos on making such an excellent vegetarian patty—as a meat eater, I’d even opt to eat one of these instead (unless I was hungover, and on a total beef quest). The notes of cumin would lend it well to some Mexican toppings, too, like the jalapeño relish with pepper jack.

The fries are fried in rice bran oil, and come out piping hot. (Actually, the food comes out impressively quick—you will barely have a sip of your beer before your food is placed in front of you.) Stick with the russet ($2.49) or sweet potato fries ($2.99)—the zucchini onion haystack had a chalky aftertaste, and were too thin to really taste. You can pick some seasonings ($0.50) with the fries, like the chipotle maple on the sweet potato fries (if you’re game to go more sweet than savory). There is also a side salad ($3.49) or seasonal vegetables (A.Q.) in case you want an alternative to fries.

Lots of things to drink here, from their own kombucha on tap, to housemade sodas ($2.49) that are sweetened with agave, like prickly pear or the awesome caramelized pineapple (my sis and I admittedly wanted to add booze to the sodas—I know, how Bartles & Jaymes of us). The house “Roam Barrel Blend” wine on tap that I tried was, uh, very challenging (let’s leave it at that)—a pint of Boont Amber would have been the better choice in that case.

The Straus Family Creamery shakes ($4.99) are a no brainer—come on, there’s Blue Bottle coffee, or salted caramel, seven flavors in all, and you can get it made with organic ice cream or non-fat frozen yogurt. Do not miss the brûléed marshmallow that comes on a wafer on top ($0.99 extra)—they sourced a stellar marshmallow that is totally corn syrup-free, and it makes for some bubbly bites of ba-damn.

The place was busy on a Sunday night, with MGMT playing, lots of energetic 20- and 30-somethings crammed together at the communal table, and some parents and kids in the mix, too. There are a few tables out front as well, with hungry dogs tied up to parking meters, longingly watching their “parents” eat. I like the reclaimed and eco-friendly look of the place, with a deep walnut counter (yay, with purse hooks), cheerful red stools, and a chandelier made of milk bottles. It’s a good looking place with a good food philosophy, and run by good people. Now, just give me my bacon. And make my patty a double, schwanks.

Related Articles

1785 Union St. San Francisco
(at Octavia St.)


  • Burgers


  • Bar Dining
  • Good for Groups
  • Kid Friendly
  • Lunch
  • Outdoor Dining