This restaurant has once again changed names and, perhaps, ownership. I think it’s still Mexican. I haven’t tried it but given all the bad experiences we’ve had at that location I won’t go there until someone swears to me on their puppy’s life that it’s the best restaurant in San Leandro.
Harley’s Burgers has changed ownership and concept and is now a Burger & Mexican food joint. It sort of changed names, it’s menu claims it’s now “JDs Burgers & Mexican Food” but the Harley sign still remains. So does the modest building, and small dining room, though it seems to have been brightened up. Still, this is as modest and divish a restaurant as you can get in San Leandro, and that is its “charm”.
In its previous incantation, Harley’s served OK food at relatively low prices – we went once and though we live a block away, we never felt the need to return. Still, it served the worker and customers of nearby auto shops well. That can no longer be said. We went there for lunch today and I can honestly say that my 8-yo would eat a head of broccoli before eating one of their burgers again. The plain cheeseburger had a small, dry, tasteless beef (we presume) patty, covered in some weird cheese sauce and smothered in some kind of Thousand Islands type dressing. It tasted of nothing but the dressing and the weird cheese, it was just disgusting. The accompanying fries were fine, cooked in oil that was just about to go stale, but steal edible. Camila had a cheese & bean burrito ($3) which she did like, so perhaps their Mexican offerings are better. I still wouldn’t trust them.
To add insult to injury, Harley/JD’s prices are pretty high. A cheeseburger is $7, $8 if you want it with bacon. You can get something a hundred times better at Boulevard Burger for less. Our lunch (well, I did not eat, but Mike and the girls did) of two burgers w/ fries, one bean & cheese burrito, two sodas and one orange juice came to about $20.
Needless to say we will not go back, at least until a new owner chef takes over.
JDs (Harley’s) Burgers & Mexican Food
2170 Washington Ave.
San Leandro, CA
M-F 7 AM – 7:30 PM
August 2011 Update
We’ve gone to Boulevard Burger a few times since my last update and the quality of the burgers seems to have gone downhill. I always get the MBA burger (with avocado, bacon & mushrooms), medium rare, and the last few times I’ve ordered it it has been very dry. I don’t know if they got a new cook who is not as good making burgers or it’s been a coincidence, but I’m less enthusiastic about going there now.
July 2011 Update
In the last year and a half, Boulevard Burger has become my favorite casual-food restaurant in San Leandro. We go there at least once a month. The burgers are almost always perfectly cooked medium-rare, as I request them. They are very juicy and tasty. The bacon in the MBA burger is top quality, and the vegetables are always fresh. I’ve grown to like their onion rings (they might have improved them), but their fries are just adequate. In addition to burgers, they have now chicken sandwiches and veggie & portobello burgers. They have a variety of children dishes for $5. My kids don’t love it, however, but it’s not all about them.
December 2009 Review
I’ve been looking forward to go to Boulevard Burgers since I first heard it was opening, back in August. But I don’t go out to lunch that often, so the opportunity didn’t present itself until today – when our empty stomachs and a very dirty kitchen convinced us that a lunch out was a good idea. And, indeed, it was. Both Mike and I were very pleaed with our burgers and are sure to go back.
Boulevard Burgers is the latest venture from restauranteur Mike Wiesner, the owner of Paradiso. It occupies the space on MacArthur Boulevard where Sonoma’s had been until a few months ago. Sonoma’s had attempted to be a “nice” restaurant, but I was never enthralled with its food – though I hope that my negative review wasn’t a major reason why the venture failed. Boulevard Burgers is a much less ambitious endeavor. It’s basically a semi-upscale burger joint. Upscale in that they use “grass-fed, grain finished California Angus which has no steroids, antibiotics, hormones or pesticides” and which comes from a nearby ranch – but not quite gourmet as the burgers they offer are quite basic; toppings include four kinds of cheese, avocado, mushrooms, grilled onions and little else. Don’t come here expecting a Kobe burger with saute foie gras and homemade Dijon mustard (if that’s what you want, Hubert Keller’s Burger Bar in San Francisco will be more your thing).
The important thing, however, is that the burgers are good. Both Mike and I had ours medium-rare, and they were perfectly cooked and very juicy (so much so that they did manage to soak the bottom part of the bun, a problem easily solved by just turning the burger around :-). I had jack cheese, bacon and avocado on mine – and the combination was very good. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The burgers are between 6.5 and 7 oz, a good size for a good appetite; I couldn’t finish mine. They range in price from $5 for a simple hamburger to $8 for the “Whole Enchilada”, a burger with avocado, bacon, sauteed onions, mushrooms, jalapeños and cheese. I think the prices are quite reasonable for the quality of the food. The burgers come solo, but you can order fries ($2), sweet potato fries ($3.50) or onion rings ($3) on the side – we got the fries (a HUGE portion) and found them to be un-exceptional. Thin, crispy and tasty enough, but not addictive.
Boulevard also offers grilled chicken sandwiches and a portobello mushroom burger. There are also salads. We didn’t try them.
At Boulevard Burgers you order at the counter and have the food brought to your table. Service was quick and very efficient, and the servers/counter people were very attentive.
In all, we had a very pleasant experience and I’d definitely return.
1027 MacArthur Blvd.
San Leandro, CA
Open 11 AM – 9 PM
January 2012 Update
Do yourself a favor. If you have $10 (plus tax & tip) to spare, head over to Paradiso and have a burger. Paradiso’s burger is simple: a half a pound of chuck in a homemade bun with no accoutrements. When I first ordered it I was skeptical, no cheese? no bacon? no fancy sauces? And then I took a bite. And another. And soon I could swear it was, by far, the best burger I had ever tasted. The secret to the flavor of Paradiso’s burgers is not one you can easily replicate at home: they are cooked in their wood burning oven and are imparted with the smoky flavor of the burning oak.
Their sliders (3 for $11) are equally as good, though these are made from Kobe beef and served with good, though unnecessary, caramelized onions. When I ate them, I had to stop the waiter and ask if there were any condiments on the bun, I really couldn’t believe a piece of meat inside a bun could be so flavorful and moist. But alas, they were plain.
The rest of the food during a couple of recent lunches at Paradiso was also solid and good, though not particularly exciting. They continue using the same sides for all dishes, which I don’t like. In any cases, if I go back to Paradiso it’ll be for the burger.
Last night it was girl’s night out with my friends Penelope, Desiree, Victoria and Paz. We went to Paradiso for appetizers, drinks and dessert.
As usual, I got the filet mignonettes ($12), slices of beef pan seared and served on crostini with a marsala mushroom sauce. As usual, it was very good. Desiree and Paz shared the Calamari Fritti ($10) and the smoked salmon pizza with goat cheese ($15). I forgot to ask them how they liked it, but I will report about it as soon as I hear from them.
We all shared a bottle of the Salentein Malbec, from Mendoza ($32). I don’t remember what year it was. It was absolutely delicious – it had a good body, not too light, not too heavy, soft tannins and a hint of oak and fruit. I see they sell it at BevMo, and I’ll have to trek over there some time to buy a few bottles.
For dessert (all $6) I had their famous sundae. I wasn’t as impressed with it as everyone else seems to me. The ice cream was just OK, the chocolate sauce very good but scant. It wasn’t a particularly big sundae either. The rest of the team shared a couple of apple crisps and they all seemed to be very happy with it. They thought it was just right.
The only negative part of the evening is that they close fairly early, they threw us out by 10 PM (this was a Wednesday night). Still, we had a very good time and I’d recommend it for a mom’s night out.
685 Bancroft Ave
San Leandro, CA