Burger hunting in San Fran: Three places the whole family will love

Classic burger & sweet potato fries at Taylor's Refresher in San Francisco

[Flickr/Pecan Sandies]

A busy day of sightseeing is enough to make anyone hungry, and when traveling with a young family it’s often hard to find a place that makes everyone happy – both children and adults. Keep it simple and go for burgers and fries – prepared the local way – and you’re guaranteed an instant crowd pleaser (tip: if you’re going to eat from a chain restaurant, at least make it a Bay Area chain). Here are three great burger joints to help you refuel after a long day of exploring the city:

Mel’s Drive-In – If you’ve seen American Graffiti, you’ve seen Mel’s. While no longer a drive-in, this 50’s diner retains its period charm with the help of cheeky waitresses, burgers and shakes. Kids get their burgers delivered in paper cars – which they notoriously drive around the table and then take home, ketchup stains and all. You’ll find four Mel’s locations in the City. Try the one at 4th and Mission, just around the corner from the San Francisco Marriott Marquis.

Taylor’s Refresher – Order your food at the counter and then find a spot at high tables with swiveling stools. Here you’ll find a range of items, including quality Niman Ranch beef burgers, topped with your choice of bacon, blue cheese, onion rings, and even guacamole. As for fries, go crazy. The sweet potato fries and garlic fries are scrumptious. Plus you can quench your thirst with wine, local Anchor Steam beer or root beer floats. #6, Ferry Plaza. Walk off the calories by staying a few blocks away at Le Meridien.

Max’s Opera Cafe – A singing wait staff also and extremely large portions make this joint an all-around winner. Work up an appetite checking out the dessert case when you enter – then use the proverbial carrot (cake) to get the kids to eat a decent meal. The kids’ menu also offers a sundae, complete with gummy worms. Delish! 601 Van Ness Avenue. You won’t be far, staying at the Best Western Tomo.

– Debbie Abrams Kaplan of Frisco Kids and Kaplan Ink.