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A San Francisco Burger Institution Is About to Invade The Varsity’s Midtown Turf

San Francisco burger stalwart and Anthony Bourdain-approved Sam’s opens a location here in Midtown this fall

Four double cheeseburgers with lettuce, tomato, and onion Sam’s of San Francisco
Beth McKibben is the editor and staff reporter for Eater Atlanta and has been covering food and cocktails locally and regionally for 12 years.

Midtown will soon be home to a San Francisco institution when Anthony Bourdain-approved burger joint Sam’s opens this fall at the Sixty 11th Apartments on 11th Street, What Now Atlanta first reported. During the San Francisco episode of The Layover, Bourdain proclaimed the burgers at Sam’s to be one of the “top three” in the world.

Sam’s will be located on the ground floor of the building, next door to Bulla Gastrobar and across the street from the Federal Reserve.

Fadi Shawa, who runs the business with his brothers Hani and Emad, tells Eater Atlanta Sam’s southern outpost is nearly 2,000-square-feet, and calls the menu a “hybrid” of the original in the North Beach district of San Francisco.

In his estimation, Sam’s-Atlanta could include between 20 to 50 varieties of burgers, close to “200 different types” of sandwiches, nearly 50 local and Bay area beers on tap, and wines from the Napa and Sonoma California regions. Shawa says Sam’s burgers are made from “organic, grass-fed meat” that is freshly ground and made into patties by hand. The menu also features vegan burgers and gluten free options.

“We decided to open in the midtown market to give the South a taste of original San Francisco,” Shawa explains of the decision to open a location clear across the country. “Sam’s of San Francisco was opened with the idea that everyone is welcome; people of all colors, race, gender, ethnicity, and political preference.”

The Shawa brothers’ father — Mike aka “Sam” — opened Sam’s in 1966. He ran the hole-in-the-wall burger and pizza restaurant until his death in 2016. It’s a popular late night stop for burgers and other comfort foods.

Sam’s closest competition comes from Atlanta’s own 91-year-old burger institution, The Varsity on North Avenue. Although, Sam’s could have the late night burger edge by staying open until 3 a.m.

“We are still one of the original burger places to open its doors in San Francisco and still staying relevant,” says Shawa. “...we’re not coming to Atlanta to compete...merely to add a taste of San Francisco that we hope midtown and Atlanta will love.”

60 11th Street, Atlanta.

The Varsity

61 North Avenue Northwest, , GA 30308 (404) 881-1706 Visit Website