Portland Burger Week 2014
Portland has amazing restaurants and food events all year long. BUT there is one week, one special week, where all bets are off, pants get a little tighter, and the cows go into hiding: Portland Burger Week.
A week where burger lovers rejoice and new friendships are gained. Where you could get beat down by a mob of hungry people if you cut in line, or meet the love of your life with grease sliding down your chin. I’m telling you, Portland Burger Week creates life-long memories.
This year there were 20 restaurants participating (19 different burgers since two restaurants were the same) all offering $5 burgers.
I REPEAT: 19 gourmet burgers for ONLY $5 each!
With such a good deal you have to try them all right?!
At least that’s what I thought. So I hopped on the meat-lovin’ train this year full-throttle. I decided I was going to eat as many burgers off the list as I could.
I armed myself with loose shorts, extra large shirts, and wrap dresses – I was ready for the food babies to come.
And ohhh they did. I ate 16 of those bad boys out of the 19 total. If I hadn’t worked a two-day event at my job I would’ve conquered that whole list no doubt.
Below are the top 10 burgers I ate in no particular order.
Top Ten (no particular order)
1. Char Siu Burger from Ate-Oh-Ate.
This was a ground Laurelhurst Market beef patty on a brioche bun, shaved char siu pork, spicy Chinese mustard, and crunchy Asian pickles.
This was the first stop and it was amazing. I honestly wished I had ordered two or gone back a different day because it was that good. The char siu pork was one of the best things I had ever tasted.
2. Sonoran Chile Relleno Burger from Mi Mero Mole.
This was a Chorizo patty on a brioche bun with refried black beans, guacamole, pickled red onions, especial sauce, and bacon-wrapped Hatch chile relleno.
This sold out every single day and for good reason. The day I got it I waited in line for 40 minutes or so. This was one of the more messy burgers but well worth it. So much flavor and such a good deal for $5.
3. Banh Mi Burger from Slow Bar.
This one had pickled daikon and carrot, fresh jalapeño, cilantro, Sriracha mayo, and a thick Painted Hills beef patty on a Grand Central brioche bun.
What I loved about it was the spicy kick it had. It wasn’t greasy like a normal burger and had so many complex flavors.
4. Hazelnut Beet Burger from White Owl Social Club.
I was relieved to see some vegetarian/vegan friendly options on the list. It gave me a nice break from all the meat heavy items I had been scarfing down.
This vegan burger was the smallest on the list but it had the most flavor out of them all. I will definitely be back just for this burger. It was a house veggie patty (garlic, almonds, brown sugar, red miso, kosher salt, black pepper, peanut butter, wakame, hazelnuts, quinoa, beets, potato starch, white onion, olive oil), served on a toasted bun with Misonaise, Heidi Ho Monterey Jack, carrot ramps and pea shoots.
5. Eastern Block from Tilt.
Now, Tilt is known for their outrageous, gigantic, and mouth-watering burgers. I expected nothing less than mind-blowing when I ordered the Eastern Block and of course Tilt delivered just that. It was made with fresh baked biscuits, locally sourced natural chuck patty, American cheese, hand-carved pork belly, fried onions/peppers, and a tasty house recipe sweet pepper & dill yogurt sauce.
The yogurt sauce was life-changing while the house biscuits melted in my mouth. I’m not a biscuit person but these biscuits were amazing. This was also one of the biggest burgers being offered on the list. I unfortunately ate this as my first burger out of four that day. That day was a struggle to say the least.
6. State Fair Burger from Bar Bar.
This one seems very simple with just a tender Alessio bun, griddled onions, beef patty, thick cheddar, and ketchup. BUT it was so magical! The onions really made it for me. Maybe they had magical onions or some magical ingredient they used, but this was one of my favorites.
7. Stuffed Cheese Curd Burger from North Light.
This was a Painted Hills 6oz hand-formed patty (cooked rare or to order and drizzled with brown butter), stuffed with Wisconsin cheese curds, on brown-butter-griddled housemade brioche bun, and topped with garlicky housemade kimchi aioli.
I didn’t really get much cheese in mine, but the garlic kimchi aioli was amazing. It was also too rare for my taste, but that was my bad since I didn’t specify for them how I wanted it. Great burger nonetheless.
8. House Veggie Burger from Spirit of ’77.
Once again, I was relived to have a veggie burger to offset some of the red meat I had been consuming. I don’t order veggie burgers often, but this was one of the best I’ve ever had. It was a little messy and falling a part, but still delicious.
It was a housemade veggie patty (black bean, roasted red pepper, spinach, quinoa), roasted red pepper aioli, and served on a whole wheat bun.
9. The Smallwares Cheeseburger from Smallwares.
This is another burger that had a nice spicy kick to it. One of the smaller burgers on the list, but packed with so much flavor.
It had fresh ground beef griddled in bacon fat, Swiss cheese, tomato, shredded iceberg, shiso, cilantro, crispy fried shallot, sweet chili-ginger special mayonnaise, and on a potato bun.
10. Shadow Burger from Club 21.
From the outside I thought Club 21 was a strip club, but turns out it’s a nice dive bar with a lovely outside patio. For some reason quite a few people told me they didn’t care for this burger, but I thought it was delicious. Maybe they just made mine extra special. That must be it because I would get this burger again.
It was a Painted Hills ground chuck, with bacon, smoked Gouda, lettuce, tomato-bacon jam, and topped with an onion ring.
Now, the rest of the burgers were still super delicious (except for one that I won’t name) but these 10 stood out to me more.
And the Spicy Candied Bacon Cheeseburger from Doug Fir, because they were amazing as well.
I felt lucky during Portland Burger Week that I didn’t have to wait very long for the burgers. The only place I waited was Mi Mero Mole. Some folks wrote on the Facebook event page that they waited for hours at various places and missed out, or that every place was understaffed and unprepared. I had a positive experience everywhere I went and I have nothing but nice things to say about Portland Burger Week.
Do I look forward to next year? You bet I do and I plan to do the whole list next time.
Did I gain weight? Surprisingly I didn’t, but I definitely felt more sluggish and I’m probably closer to a heart attack than I was before. I was surprised after one night of eating two burgers in a row that I went home and actually had the energy to workout! Maybe eating mass burgers gives me super powers…it’s possible.
I look forward to next year. Portland Burger Week 2015 – I’m ready.
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