On the Burger Beat with the Moveable Feast

Story and photos by Meredith Pakier

From left: The Burger Shop’s Halal Smashburger, Lana’s Okie Onion Smash, YSG Halal’s Chaplee Burger


I LOVE A GOOD BURGER, and with a mind to wrap my hands around the East Bay’s best, I assembled a crew of discerning friends to help me put a bunch to the test.

Paper-thin patty lovers will fall hard for The Burger Shop food truck’s halal smashburgers with their lacy and crisp edges and no-frills toppings. If you’re looking for ambience, the Burger Shop has plenty of it with seating in a stationary open-air trolley outfitted with picnic tables and seats around mini fireplaces. 4050 Alder Ave, Fremont

When we visited Lana’s, our eyes widened in awe as we unboxed the special at this ice cream parlor and burger joint. The Okie Onion Smash is an ode to Oklahoma-style burgers where the patties are essentially equal parts beef and thinly sliced onions. This one also had a healthy dose of mustard to help spice up those layers of savory richness inside an especially fluffy bun. 517 8th St, Oakland

Former food truck YSG Halal is now grilling up their mouthwatering Pakistani-American mash-ups in a new brick-and-mortar. Their star is the Chaplyee Burger, a fast-food riff on the chapli kabab for which a halal beef patty is supercharged with a piquant kick courtesy of YeeMasala, a top-secret medley of spices blended in-house. Don’t skip the accompanying masala-spiced fries. 4342 Thornton Ave A, Fremont


From left: Cali Kid’s Chili Smash portobello burger, Truebuger’s fried portobello burger, Lovely’s Chili Willy


Tucked inside an outlet mall, Cali Kid offers customizable burgers that make it worth driving through the mall’s labyrinthine parking lot. Choices included Angus beef and halal chicken, but we opted for the portobello burger done Chile Smash style, which means the lightly fried mushroom cap has a blanket of pepper jack cheese, corn and jalapeño relish, and avocado plus tortilla chips that added a delightful crunch I never knew I needed. 4587 Livermore Outlets Dr, Livermore

Sideshow Kitchen’s Sideshow Burger

The thick, golden-brown, and ultra-crisp breading on Trueburger’s fried portobello mushroom burger reminded us of a meaty Japanese katsu sando in the best way possible. The soft and gooey bed of smoked mozzarella made this hearty vegetarian option a crowd-pleaser among my group of devout omnivores. Two locations: 146 Grand Ave, Oakland & 4101 Broadway, Oakland

Lovely’s fast-food style menu evokes the nostalgia our group of millennial eaters craves. Case in point, their aptly named Drive-Thru Burger adorned with classic toppings like American cheese and shredded iceberg lettuce. But if you’re missing another childhood favorite, go for the Chili Willy, a cousin to the sloppy joe matured only slightly by the addition of pickled jalapeños. 2344 Webster St, Oakland

Sideshow Kitchen hit all the marks for us. Their signature Sideshow Burger features a double stack of not-too-thin, not-too-thick, tender, and juicy beef patties with all the fixings and their tangy ketchup-based “Good Burger” sauce. Paired with an Arnold Palmer on their patio, it’s not a bad way to spend a sunny afternoon. 942 Stanford Ave, Oakland


Meredith Pakier’s column, The Moveable Feast, covers a wide range of food and beverage spots around Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Peruse the whole set of stories here.

When Meredith Pakier is not writing as part of the Market Hall Foods marketing and communications team, she’s hiking with her dog, Nico, and dreaming about starting a garden.