Kronnerburger

Downing Stranger Juice in the dark -- and biting into solid, juicy burgers at this Mission hotspot

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GUARDIAN PHOTO BY CRYSTAL SYKES

culture@sfbg.com

DINING "Never judge a book by its cover" — if ever there was a place that warranted that old saw, it's KronnerBurger. Standing across from the Mission burger joint's ramshackle facade, its name spelled out on the marquee atop a grungy window display, beneath an unlit "Tonight" neon sign, it was hard to believe this was the same place I've been practically begging my friends to attend with me. As we inched closer to the entrance, we noticed a little old-fashioned TV in the window displaying the restaurant's logo on a background of static. My friend and I looked at each other warily and stepped inside chef Chris Kronner's joint.

Even around 8pm on a rather sunny evening, light inside Kronnerburger was practically nonexistent. Besides the wooden, almost -'70s inspired light fixtures at the bar in the corner of the restaurant, sources of illumination are few and far between, with only a couple of other lights scattered throughout the dining area and a Mexican-style devotional candle at every table. It took my eyes a while to adjust but once I did, I was pleased to see walls of exposed brick and ample seating. Before long, the hostess emerged from the darkness and, despite the absence of a member of our party, seated us at a table anyway.

Once our party was complete, we ordered drinks. I must say that half of the reason I wanted to eat at Kronnerburger was to try its Carbonated Motherfucking Margarita ($10, $54 pitcher). But after looking over the paper menu — which included curiosity-spikers like scotchocolate milk and sasparilla Old Fashioned — I was torn between my original choice and the mysterious Stranger Juice ($9, $50 pitcher). A friend went for the Stranger, so I was able to get a taste of both.

As for food, both of my friends decided to get the eponymous KronnerBurger burger with a single patty ($11, $18 double), one with a $4 side of bone marrow, and the other with the addition of bacon ($3). I decided on getting a crispy Crabburger ($14, also available grilled). For sides, we got some onion rings ($6) and fries ($4).

Naturally, our drinks came out first and while both the margarita and Stranger Juice were perfect choices on an unusally hot day in the city, if I had the option to reconsider, I would have ordered the Stranger Juice for myself. Loaded with gin, Aperol and I'm guessing (they're secretive) sweet vermouth, the Stranger Juice was surprisingly fresh, light, and floral. The Carbonated Motherfucking Margarita was tasty and bubbly, but a little bit too sour for me.

While waiting, my tablemates and I peered through the darkness to see what the other guests were ordering. We saw the burgers we couldn't wait to sink our teeth into and a delicious plate full of marrow and fries — a twist on French Canadian poutine, also with cheese curds and beef cheek gravy.

Once it came out (not long) it took a while to dig in, because it really was too dark to get a good look at what was on our plate. As we waved our Jesus candles over our food, everything looked small but tasty. Small but decadent-looking patties on our burgers, a small but crispy portion of fries. We were, however, given an absolutely huge portion of onion rings. A little bit too much for the humble amount of delicious dipping sauce that accompanied it, alas. As for the taste, what can I say? The burger was moist and solid — and isn't that everything a burger should be?

For dessert, we got the only item on the menu: strawberry bread pudding. Topped with chocolate ice cream, the warm dish was so gooey and flavorful that even though we had three people sharing the small portion, we couldn't finish it.

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