Santa Cruz Restaurant Opening: burger features lots of sandwiches plus pizza, 100 beers, and more

The Santa Cruz restaurant scene is constantly changing, with new places opening, others closing, and chefs coming or going all over town-so you may have missed the opening of a popular new spot: burger.

The restaurant “burger” (yes, that’s lower case with a “b”) first opened in May with a limited menu, and it’s been increasing its offerings ever since, with more expansion plans in the works.

A large variety of burgers are available, and each comes with french fries – your choice of plain or sweet potato (I’ve enjoyed the sweet potato ones twice in the last month – yum!). You can get beef or vegetarian patties with your burgers. The beef is organic, hormone-free, and grass-fed; it’s from Humboldt Grassfed Beef.

The restaurant’s jalapeno burger is called the Chuck Norris (because it ‘kicks’). For those who prefer dessert as part of their burger, there is the Luther-a burger with two glazed Ferrell’s donuts as the bun! burger has daily specials; so far these have included Kobe beef sliders served on Hawaiian sweet rolls, lobster roll sliders, and Sloppy Joes.

Other food items available include salads (such as The Wedge with iceberg, blue cheese and bacon) and pizza. Hand-tossed pizzas are currently offered on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Pizza ingredients are bought weekly from local farmers markets, so selections rotate.

burger takes pride in its beer selection, focusing on craft beer, local and regional breweries as well as a large Belgium selection and seasonal favorites. It currently offers 37 beers on tap as well as 75 different bottle choices. By Fall 2010 the restaurant plans to offer 50 tap beers. Other yummy beverages include milkshakes made with Marianne’s ice cream.

The restaurant has an unusual numbering system – when you order, instead of getting a number to put on your table so the server knows how to find you, you get a celebrity mug shot (like Axl Rose, O.J. Simpson, or Mel Gibson).

burger is located at the corner of Mission & Bay, in a building that has seen its share of short-term restaurant tenants (the last two were sushi bars whose names escape me, and seemed to escape many in Santa Cruz…). But burger seems destined to last: the crowds have been coming, enjoying, and returning.

Location: 1520 Mission St, Santa Cruz 95060, (831) 425-5300

Hours:  Mon-Sun 11am-10pm