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Nation’s Giant Hamburgers: The East Bay Hamburger Chain No One Talks About

Updated: Aug 30, 2017 15:58
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While the Instagrammers are grammin’ the shit out of In-N-Out for some reason, I don’t hear people talk about Nation’s Giant Hamburgers, and why not?  They’ve been a Bay Area brand for over 50 years.

Nation’s got its start in San Pablo, CA (next to Richmond) and the company’s headquarters is currently in El Cerrito. Nation’s was founded in 1952, when creator Russ Harvey traded his car in for a “ten-foot wide, six-stool hot dog stand.” Somehow burgers found their way onto Russ’ original hot dog stand menu, named “Harvey’s Giant Hamburgers,” and this East Bay institution was a hit by the time a teenaged Dale Power asked Russ for a job. Dale opened a location in Oakland’s Jack London Square in 1970, and changed the name to one he and Russ agreed on, Nation’s. Dale Power became the President and CEO of Nation’s, and now his son Grant is President and CEO. I couldn’t find much information about Nation’s online, maybe they’re like Forrest Mars, Jr and keep everything top secret. 

Nation’s menu is basic with things like salmon burgers (they use frozen puck patties), chicken breast sandwiches (they use real chicken breasts), chili cheese fries, pies and of course, hamburgers. Known for their 3/4 pound burgers, with toppings figured into the weight, I ordered a $7.55 bacon cheeseburger at the Vacaville location. Although it had been a long time since I had a burger from Nation’s, the burger was exactly the way I remembered it. The way the Alameda location should always serve the burgers, but they never do. The burger was sizable, hot, crusty edges on the beef patty, fresh crisp iceberg lettuce, semi-crispy bacon, thin length-cut dill pickles, and a soft bun. Oh, did you know their mayonnaise was actually Miracle Whip? Yeah, me neither. The alternative mayonnaise condiment by Kraft. But, that stuff is damn delicious on this burger.

I don’t know if they always drop their fries immediately after they’re ordered, or if they have a heat lamp for held foods. There weren’t many people in the restaurant yet, so they fried mine fresh. Holy shit. The fries were so crunchy, golden, delicious and blazing hot! The cook obviously heard/saw me trying to shove these suckers into my gob, all the while sucking in air to cool my mouth off, because she said, “they’re hot.” Hell yeah, they are! And delicious. The fact that they were the same temperature as the surface of the sun did not stop me from feverishly eating them. 

Yes, damnit! I did buy a slice of chocolate cream pie. Gorda likes pie. There aren’t too many places that still serve pie. Rumor has been confirmed that they bake their pies near their headquarters in El Cerrito. I had a slice of the chocolate creme pie. It was rich, dense while being light, smooth, luscious and so so chocolatey. It sat in a shallow, barely browned, fragile crust (I prefer lots of crust) and topped with a whipped dairy product. The whole thing wasn’t too sweet. They also have banana cream, coconut cream, cheesecake, a mile high strawberry, pecan, lemon meringue and of course, apple. They also have seasonal favorites like pumpkin, raspberry cheesecake and peaches and cream.

You can grab a slice, burger, fries, or breakfast at one of Nation’s 29 locations around the Bay Area and Sacramento.

Westlake Shopping Ctr
Daly City, CA 94015

1432 Webster St
Alameda, CA 94501

317 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94607

1800 University Ave
Berkeley, CA 94703

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