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San Francisco

Meet Wes Rowe Of Wesburger

The Wesburger pop-up at Mojo has become a Wednesday night staple in the neighborhood. We recently caught up with the spatula-wielding mastermind behind it.

On a Wednesday evening at Mojo, we found Wes sitting at a table making a sign.

"I have horrible handwriting," he told us. Whether or not that’s true is up for debate, but we didn’t come for a lesson in penmanship.

We came for a burger.

Wes Rowe is originally from central Texas and moved to San Francisco in 2000, looking for a change of scenery. Although the only formal restaurant experience he has was back in high school, Wes has enjoyed making burgers for his friends for as long as he can remember.

Wes is a photographer by trade and didn’t start making burgers for the public until a little over a year ago. That's when his buddy Justin Navarro, the proprietor of  The Galley, asked him to come in and make a dish once a month at the tiny pop-up housed inside Clooney's.  Wes began oscillating between burgers and barbecue, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

But one night, he experienced a bit of a game changer.

Wes and Justin went to Jack in the Box and ordered a burger entitled The Hot Mess. They enjoyed it ... a lot. In fact, Wes was so moved by this siren song of the drive-thru that he felt compelled to recreate it at The Galley. The finished product was so good that Wes was informed that he would exclusively be making burgers from then on.

One day, a representative of the SF Burger Brawl (exactly what it sounds like) came in and asked Wes to enter the competition to be held at Fort Mason. Though mildly intimidated by the established restaurants represented by his fellow competitors, he entered nonetheless.

And won first place.

In July of last year, about a month after the competition, Wes started his Wednesday Mojo after being introduced to owner Remy Nelson.

"It was supposed to just be through the summer," Wes told us. “But we haven’t talked about it since."

And why would they? Wesburger consistently sells out each Wednesday, often long before closing time. In fact, he had to up his inventory by 30% to keep up with demand.

Wes chalks his success up to the fact that he makes every single burger himself and puts a great deal of care into each one, a remarkable achievement given that the whole operation is executed on one portable butane stove and a single cast-iron skillet.

Along with a burger that changes each week, Wes also serves a tasty and very all-American queso dip and has recently begun offering deep-fried pickles with a sriracha-based sauce, sourced from McVicker’s Pickles

But don’t forget about the burger. If you’re into burgers, you’ll like Wesburger. That is all.

What else is on the horizon for Wes Rowe? He was recently featured in Conde Nast Traveler for the Burger Bootcamp he does once or twice a month over at Workshop. The next one is Saturday May 24th, and it’d be smart to reserve a spot soon. 

He’s also starting another pop-up down at Virgil’s in the Mission, which will feature his Texas-style WesBBQ as well.

When we asked Wes about his philosophy on cooking burgers, his response was simple:

"I like to make ‘em hot and fast. Crunchy on the outside, pink and bloody in the middle."

Amen to that.

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