American food isn’t all about cheeseburgers and fries, but let’s be honest: the burgers and fries here are absolutely delicious! Sometimes you just need a classic cheeseburger topped with all the “fixings” (melted cheese, ketchup, mustard, crisp lettuce, onions, and tangy pickles) and some warm, crispy, and salty fries . . . and San Diego has some one of the best burger joints* for you to satisfy your cravings. Check out these locations, which are all within walking distance of SD’s residence halls, and then be sure to read (and use) these idioms about the things you find on or with burgers.

*burger joints = slang for restaurants that serve burgers

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San Diego’s Best Burger Joints


Located in East Village and just a short walk from CISL’s Broadway campus, Hodad’s is popular with both CISL students and staff! The relaxed atmosphere, quick service, and tasty and affordable burgers are a great combo. If you go, get the frings (half fries, half onion rings). You won’t regret it!

945 Broadway (between 3rd Ave & Harbor Dr)
San Diego, CA 92101


Burger Lounge

The highest quality meats are used in this delicious burger, and you taste the difference! Located in Little Italy (just a few streets from CISL’s Vantaggio Residence Hall), Burger Lounge is a favorite of Converse students. Enjoy the classic burgers with your choice of cheese, or try something more original, like the vegetarian burger made with quinoa. You can choose between a salad or fries as a side, depending on if you’re feeling slightly more healthy . . . or slightly more indulgent.

1608 India St (between Date St & Cedar St)
San Diego, CA 92101

Neighborhood Bar and Grill

The classic burger gets a makeover at Neighborhood, which is located Downtown in the East Village (just a few streets from CISL). The restaurant is known for its impressive selection of beers on tap (try some San Diego local brews!) and its excellent service. But the one thing you won’t get at Neighborhood? Ketchup! The restaurant refuses to serve this condiment. This doesn’t always make the customers happy, but they forgive Neighborhood after trying the delicious burgers and fries.

777 G St (between 7th Ave & 8th Ave)
San Diego, CA 92101

 In N Out ingredients

Burger and burger topping idioms

Flipping burgers

Definition: Working a job that doesn’t pay very well and doesn’t have much career potential.

Usually this expression is used to motivate people to get an education.

Example: If you don’t finish your degree you’ll be flipping burgers for the rest of your life!

Example: I knew I didn’t want to flip burgers forever, so I decided to go back to school.


A few fries short of a Happy Meal

Definition: Not very intelligent.

A Happy Meal is the meal from McDonald’s for children. If you are “short” (missing” a few fries, you are suggesting that a person is missing an important part of himself or herself. In this case, the Happy Meal is a metaphor for the brain.

Example: We got terrible service, but the waiter was a few fries short of a Happy Meal.

Example: He’s a really good dog, but I think he’s a few fries short of a Happy Meal.


Big cheese

Definition: An important person, usually at work.

Example: I have a meeting with the big cheese later. I’m so nervous!

Example: For my second interview, I spoke with the big cheese. It went well.


Can’t cut the mustard

Definition: Not able to handle the job.

Example: This old computer just can’t cut the mustard. I need a new one.

Example: The new employee couldn’t cut the mustard, so they fired him after one week.


To be in a pickle

Definition: To be in a difficult situation; to be in trouble.

Example: I told two people I could go to their birthday parties on Saturday. I’m really in a pickle now!

Example: My car was broken and so was my cell phone, and I was in the middle of nowhere. I was really in a pickle.


To bring home the bacon

Definition: To make money.

Example: I don’t love my job, but someone has to bring home the bacon.

Example: My husband stays at home and I work and bring home the bacon.

If you aren’t in the mood for a sit-down dining experience, check out the best fast food in the U.S.: In N Out! Our article on In N Out burgers and California Slang Out provides the “ins and outs” of this delicious, fresh fast food joint, and also includes from California slang every English student needs to know.

Cover photo and burger toppings photo from Shutterstock; burger photo from In N Out via Facebook.