Man cannot live by bread alone -- but slap a patty in there, add a dollop of ketchup, some melty cheese and a side of fries? Now you're talking.

The Bay Area abounds in great burger spots, and this particular trio, which includes old school George's, diner-style Digger's and the new wave SlideBar, offers something for every taste.

Digger's Diner

Address: 217 W. Winton Ave., Hayward

Contact: 510-470-3664, www.diggersdiners.com

Hours: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays

Old timer slider with regular fries at SliderBar in Berkeley, Calif., on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013.  (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
Old timer slider with regular fries at SliderBar in Berkeley, Calif., on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) (RAY CHAVEZ)

The burger tab: $3.99 for a hamburger to $9.99 for the "Crypt" specialty burger.

Digger's Diner is what you get when you partner a gravedigger husband with an aspiring restaurant-owner wife. The first diner opened in 1994 in Concord and restaurants in Brentwood, Hayward and San Leandro followed. That growth -- and the packed parking lot at lunch -- is a testament to Digger's renowned burgers, which have repeatedly won "best burger" honors from various outlets.

The menu features more than a dozen burger options to satisfy any hunger level -- and creative taste -- and the juicy 1/3-pound beef patties come heaped with toppings on grilled buns.

On a recent crowded lunch visit, we hunkered down in cafeteria-style chairs and had a short wait for our first bite of burger nirvana. Hitting the sweet spot, the Aloha burger ($5.79) burst with flavor, thanks to sliced pineapple and a tangy teriyaki sauce. The specialty Stubb ($6.49) sandwiched a burger with grilled onions, bacon, Swiss and American cheeses and a fried egg between grilled Texas Toast. Incredibly filling, the Stubb combines flavors that are well matched -- like the best of breakfast and lunch, rolled into one.

Options abound for shakes and fries, too. We opted for the incredibly seasoned and crisp curly fries ($3.19), then gave into temptation and ordered a batch of funnel cake fries ($3.49), too. Dunked in chocolate dipping sauce, those dessert fries are an instant guilty pleasure.

Eggs on burgers and funnel cake fries are just a few ways Digger's does things differently. And it works, especially in a diner whose cemetery and cartoon skeleton wall murals pay homage to its roots.

-- A. Tatko-Peterson, Staff

SliderBar

Address: 2124 Center St., Berkeley

Contact: 510-246-3200, http://sliderbarusa.com

An order of BBQ pork fries is one of the menu items offered  at SliderBar in Berkeley, Calif., on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013.  (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News
An order of BBQ pork fries is one of the menu items offered at SliderBar in Berkeley, Calif., on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) (RAY CHAVEZ)

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekends

The burger tab: $3.50 to $5 per slider

A burger bar with beer and wine -- what's not to love? Palo Alto's popular SliderBar opened a Berkeley outpost last summer, and it's proven a great fit for the city's bustling downtown. Grab a table or a seat at the bar, order up a craft beer or glass of vino, then settle in for some serious decision-making. The list of slider possibilities is long -- and there are critical choices to be made among those tasty fries options, too.

SliderBar does little burgers in every possible variety, from a classic and very tasty Old Timer ($3.50) with a Niman Ranch beef patty, pickled onions, fantastic house-made pickles and a tangy secret sauce, to Reuben-esque brisket (the 49ers-inspired Red and Gold, $4.50), saucy meatball, pork, chicken, veggie and even breakfast sliders. We sampled our way through a quintet of them, all very good, but the Hot Chick ($4.50) was an instant fave. The spicy patty -- ground chicken, serrano chiles, garlic, lime and tomatillos -- was topped with a dollop of serrano chile mayo, gem lettuce and some tortilla chips for crunch, and the whole fantastic thing was tucked inside a multigrain bun.

It was hard to tell if the very popular Mighty Meatball ($3.75) had just languished too long on the plate -- it was the last thing we tried, and by then the bun was falling apart and the meat was mushy -- or if the Hot Chick just made everything else pale by comparison, but the meatball slider was our least favorite.

Before you rush off to Berkeley Rep or whatever's next on your agenda, make sure you try the Belgian fries ($3 to $6.50), which are available in regular, sweet potato, truffle and garlic versions with your choice of a dozen dipping sauces, including spicy curry ketchup, hot Sriracha mayonnaise, blue cheese and artichoke-Parmesan. The pale green pesto mayo was tasty, as was a chile ranch dip. The rest of the list will have to wait 'til we return ... for more Hot Chick sliders.

-- J. Burrell, Staff

George's Giant Hamburger

Address: 1491 Newell Ave., Walnut Creek

Contact: 925-939-4888, www.georgesgianthamburger.com

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays

The burger tab: $5.45 for a hamburger to $9.30 for a double bacon cheeseburger.

George's has been grinding their own meat twice daily for more than 30 years. The mother-and-son owned diner, located in a narrow strip mall between Whole Foods and Kaiser Permanente, also serves hot dogs ($3.89 to $4.85) and sandwiches ($3.75 to $6.95), but it's the hamburgers that people come back for.

There's no trick or special sauce. The burgers are simple and cooked to your specifications. They start with whole pieces of USDA Certified Angus Beef chuck, trimmed down, tendons and bone removed, and formed by hand into patties that are cooked-to-order on an open grill. When your number is called, you pick up your burger, which comes on a soft, white bun, and dress it up with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, pickles, or relish (grilled onions are 50 cents extra) at the fixing station before heading back to your bright orange booth.

On both visits, our burgers were hot, juicy and grilled per our request, which made up for the occasional mealy tomato slice or withered lettuce leaf. George's uses only American cheese (50 cents extra), which melts perfectly and tastes delicious every time. We could've used more of it on the grilled ham and cheese ($5.25), which was served on sliced white or wheat bread with uninspired deli meat. It was too plain. But if you have a picky young eater, he or she may rejoice.

I certainly appreciated that George's small portion of french fries ($2.25) were on the plain side, with little or no salt, so I could control the sodium. The only other thing you need to know about George's is that they don't have a public restroom and only accept cash. Thankfully, there's a Chase bank across the street.

-- J. Yadegaran, Staff