42 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA | Directions 9411137.796270 -122.404145
Neighborhoods: Financial District, Northeast
Consistent Quality, Decent Price. – So I was reading the reviews above and thought I would chime in. I am by no means a food editor for the local newspaper but I really do consider myself a burger connoisseur. I am an SF transplant so I will put that out there to dispel the idea that only natives like Clown Alley. I have been going here on and off for a year, and I have yet to be disappointed. One of the ratings said the burgers weren't thick, but I think they are pretty darn thick they are not those little thin burgers you see at other places. Granted the service might seem "OK" at peak times, but stroll in after the lunch rush and it is very relaxed here. There are plenty of combo's you can get, just plain burger, cheese burger, double, etc.. I have had burgers from Maine to Florida, Boston to San Francisco and overseas countless times (almost always a disappointment). Clown Alley may not be the best burger, but it is a solid, consistent, yummy treat. I would personally suggest just get the burger, the meat is so good you don't 'need' the cheese. Also, Clown Alley is one of FEW places that have bitter pickles one of my personal favorites!!
The scary clowns are long gone but the hearty burgers are here to stay at this recently remodeled (and modernized) Financial District institution. – For nearly 50 years, the clown-themed incarnations of this FiDi eatery offered greasy American standards and a campy, corny j'ne sais quoi that garnered a loyal if dwindling following. Gone now are the scary clowns and even scarier food; the establishment now toes the line between fast-food counter (patrons order their Prather Ranch burgers, beer battered onion rings and East Coast-style frozen custard sundaes from a register at the front) and sit-down lunch destination (Chef Matthew Kerley comes from the kitchens of Zinnia, Slow Club and Myth; beer and wine are served). Looking up at the Transamerica Pyramid is the triangular dining space, which is divided into two distinct rooms--one patio-like area with a retractable roof for warm days and a fireplace for cooler ones, and another dining area with big booths bathed in polka-dots, but that's where the silly stops. Out went the bad food, bad taste and, perhaps, a little of the fun, but Pickles has grown up and wants to be taken seriously, and we should respect that.
Craving a real burger?, this is it! – Flame broiled, fresh beef, with real lettuce and tomato. Even the pickles are perfect on these burgers! While this is "fast food" it isn't industrialized, it's good and fresh. Friendly staff, quick in and out....this place will satisfy that need for a burger.
Disappointed - only Average burgers – I went here because of the City Search rating but I was disappointed that the burger was only average. I like thick juicy burgers and the burger here was too thin and dry for my taste. Average fries too. Not good for groups. Price is decent. I have no objections to eating here but I'm looking for a better burger.
AWESOME – Best Burgers in SF! Lunch or late-night, this place always serves the best burgers, fries, and shakes in San Francisco. The interior is a little cold, but it's a burger place... Always a stop after the bars in North Beach. Locals favorite, if you say Clown Alley and somebody doesn't know what you're talkin about, they're not from here.
maybe it's 'cause i'm not from SF – most people who grew up in SF love this place, faults and all. as a transplant, i found it to be above average. but there are better tasting burgers in nearby (old ship saloon & bistro burger). they're also very busy and don't seem to have time to pay attention to particular orders during the rush.
but the milkshakes are fantastic and the fries are only $1.25 a pop.
they've also got a cool little condiment bar with everything you'd need even bbq sauce.
it's not as cheap as you'd think this would be. burger, fries and a drink can set you back $7.
Past Times – I was disheartened last month when I passed by the location of the Clown Alley on Lombard St. and found it to be closed. So it is a pleasent surprise to find out that the location on Columbus Ave is still open. I when I lived in SF a visit was always a treat. I hope it hasn't changed.
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