San Francisco welcomes tourists from around the world to visit its amazing sightseeing attractions. There’s the Golden Gate Bridge, the famous AT&T Giants Stadium, the expansive Golden Gate Park, and then there is Big Chef Tom’s Belly Burgers. I cannot believe that I did not know about this place!
Located near Market Street in downtown San Francisco, CA, Big Chef Tom’s Belly Burgers is a trailblazing leader in the Bay Area’s burger community. Chef Tom is widely recognized for his catering truck and mobile cooking that operates at private events such as Outsidelands; however, I was recently able to visit his kitchen and sit at the communal table with two of my close friends.
The restaurant was rather empty on the afternoon that we visited, but the slow-paced atmosphere allowed me the opportunity to ask the woman working the cash register about Chef Tom’s menu. She willingly discussed her choice preferences in casual conversation and even gave me a discount on my drink order! She recommended that I order the Truck Stop Burger which, according to her, was their most popular selling traditional burger.
Despite the employee’s suggestion, I ordered the Gringo Burger with the assumption that one of my friends would order the Truck Stop (which they, sadly, did not). The Gringo was one of the best burgers that I have ever had in my life, hands down! Piled with charred peppers and pepper jack cheese, it truly was a remarkable pork belly burger with a perfect medium rare cook that perfected a crispiness upon being bitten that I have never before experienced. Seriously, I will be visiting this place at least once per month while living in the Bay Area because their pork belly is quite literally to die for.
Prior to entering the restaurant, I asked an employee at a nearby store what he recommended that I order at Chef Tom’s and all that he had to say was “a half order of fries.” His suggestion was simple, but it was absolutely key. Chef Tom’s fries were top tier, combining the delicious taste and crispiness that McDonald’s french fries are well-known to have with a shape similar to the homestyle potato wedge that you might find at your nearest luxury steakhouse.
My friends ordered the Firecracker and another Gringo and, to no surprise, were equally as impressed by Chef Tom’s unique approach to making burgers. My roommate states that the burgers were “exceptional,” but that the fries were unmatched. They were “a version of In-n-Out’s legendary animal style fries except with fries that are actually good.”
The atmosphere in the restaurant would’ve made for an uncomfortable experience if the food were to have not been as incredible as it was. In fact, the employee at the cash register frequently argued with the cook (who is incredibly talented at making burgers) about the mechanics of the cash register. Additionally, there were two different radio stations that were playing very loudly, one in the kitchen and one in the dining room, as if in competition between each other.
Despite the minor distractions within the restaurant, Big Chef Tom’s Belly Burgers should permanently be regarded as one of the greatest burger establishments in San Francisco. If you find yourself strolling along Market Street, do not forget to stop by and make sure to order a side of fries!
BCT Belly Burgers is located at:
1550 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: (415) 800-7801
Hours: Mon-Fri: 10:30am-9pm, Sat: 12:00pm-9pm, & Sun: 11:30am-8pm