Food & Drink

PDX's 9 best under-the-radar burgers

Published On 03/12/2014 Published On 03/12/2014
Calamity Janes burger
Drew Tyson

Don't get us wrong, we love the burgers at Foster Burger, and Biwa, and Yakuza, and Slowburger as much as the next guy, but isn't it strange that the same few spots show up on everyone's "best burgers" lists? And isn't it possible that Willamette Week, the Portland Mercury, Portland Monthly, and even *gulp* Thrillist missed some epic Stumptown burgers? Yes... and here's the proof: nine under-the-radar (and totally badass) burgers you won't find on any list except this one.

Kobe Burger
Bamboo Sushi, NW 23rd & Southeast
Premium beef with aged Tillamook Cheddar, caramelized onions, and enormous onion rings that rival Ringside’s means that this meat disc isn't anything like the more famous Kobe: overrated. A career shooting percentage under 45%? Seriously?!

good fruit

Bacon Cheeseburger
Humdinger Drive In, Southwest Barbur
A menu with just about everything you can fry on it, just as many milkshake choices (40+), and best of all, enormous burgers cooked in what tastes like at least a quarter-inch of glorious grease on their flat top. Pro Tip: ordering bacon on your burger nets you six pieces of delicious meat candy.

The Original

Donut Sliders
The Original, Downtown
Donut sliders. Let us repeat that. Donut. Sliders. 

Brunch Box

The Burgermeister
Brunch Box, Downtown
You can’t go wrong with their all-day brunch menu, but you can go even less wronger with one of their grease-tastic gut-bombs like the Monstrosity, a double-bacon cheeseburger with two grilled cheese sandwiches for buns, or the Burgermeister, which is what every Big Mac wishes it could be.

Produce Row Cafe

Griddled Burger
Produce Row Cafe, Southeastside Industrial
You can get a bacon cheeseburger anywhere, but you can't get one made with impeccably sourced ingredients like Tillamook Cheddar, fry sauce, crispy onions & bacon jam on a brioche bun... unless you hit this boozer with constantly rotating taps and one of Stumptown's sweetest bourbon selections.

The Colossal Burger
Acropolis, Southeast/Mulwaukie
One thing's for sure, sitting at one of Portland's sweetest strip clubs eating five pounds of beef and cheese, plus all the accoutrements, on a 14” bun is sure to give you a colossal... um, stomach ache?

Skyline Restaurant

Classic Steak Burger
Skyline Restaurant, Skyline Drive (way west)
First of all, skip the spot on NE Broadway. The burger is pretty much the same, but to really enjoy the food, you have to take the cruise down Skyline Drive and experience the ambience that led James Beard -- yes, that James Beard -- to extoll the virtues of this burger. And then something about the Quadzilla Challenge

The Original WOW! Burger

Make Your Own
The Original WOW! Burger, North (like, by the airport)
Next time you have to go to the airport or Ikea, make sure you stop by The Original WOW! Burger, where they make their own buns and, like a Fuddruckers, let you build your own food. Choose between all the usual toppings, a plethora of sauces, and finish it with as much cheese, bacon, and avocado as you can fit on their beautiful buns.

The Old Gold

Elk Burger
The Old Gold, Killingsworth
Known by all the neighborhood kids, this spot still flies under most radars, but they’re pumping out legit bistro fare like this elk burger w/bacon, bleu cheese & cabernet onion jam that you can enjoy posted up in one of their deep booths, which is what many considered John Wilkes to be, but only because he yelled in Latin and stuff.

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1. The Original 300 SW 6th Ave, Portland, OR 97204 (Downtown)

The donut burger's become something of a weird staple, but Portland's The Original claims ownership of it, and's probably responsible for a spike in national diabetes.

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2. The Original WOW! Burger 10107 NE Cascade Pkwy, Portland, OR 97220 (N Portland)

The Original WOW! Burger is a classic diner burger, but they make their own buns in-house, and you get to assemble them yourself! Choose between all the usual toppings, a plethora of sauces, and finish it with as much cheese, baconm and avocado as you can fit on their beautiful buns.

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3. Bamboo Sushi NW 836 NW 23rd Ave, Portland, OR 97210 (Nw Portland)

This place is all about sustainable sushi, using responsibly-sourced ingredients while also supporting marine stewardship organizations such as Salmon Nation, Monterey Bay Aquarium and Blue Ocean Institute. But, as important as wildlife conservancy is, Bamboo Sushi's green initiative extends beyond sourcing and advocacy to include close monitoring of power and water use, as well as the use of biodegradable containers. This commitment has garnered Bamboo Sushi "Certified Green Restaurant" status with the Green Restaurant Association, which is pretty darn impressive in our book.

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4. Skyline Restaurant 1313 NW Skyline Blvd, Portland, OR 97229 (Ne Portland)

Skyline offers diner-ish digs (Red-checked floor? Check!) where you can scarf your usual steak burger, but wash it down the right way thanks to an full bar rocking delicious cocktails.

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5. Humdinger Drive In 8250 SW Barbur Blvd, Portland, OR 97219 (Sw Portland)

With enormous burgers, a menu with just about everything you can fry on it, and 40+ milkshakes, Humdinger is your classic greasy spoon serving up diner eats that are sure to please.

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6. Brunch Box 620 SW 9th Ave, Portland, OR 97205 (Downtown)

BB specializes in ridiculous burgers and sandwiches, including the absolutely huge Burgermeister (two beef patties, two slices of American cheese, grilled onions, lettuce, pickles, Thousand Island dressing, and THREE pieces of bun). Good luck!

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7. Produce Row Cafe 204 SE Oak St, Portland, OR 97214 (Buckman)

Since 1943, Produce Row -- then just a breakfast cafe -- was slinging incredible eats to the people of Portland. And although the past 50 years have seen changes of ownership and intention (it was once a pub), today the Eastside Industrial venue has found harmonious success as a gastropub, known for both its creative American menu and beer/spirits combos. Stop by to enjoy a bite in Produce Row's sprawling back patio, open all year round.

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8. Acropolis Steakhouse 8325 SE McLoughlin Blvd, Portland, OR 97202 (Sellwoodmoreland)

With 65 beers on tap and a steak that rivals any meatery in town, Acropolis brings new meaning to the word "strip" at one of Portland's most famous stripperies.

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9. The Old Gold 2105 North Killingsworth, Portland, OR 97201 (Overlook)

The Old Gold in North Portland is somewhere between a neighborhood bar and a hip cocktail joint. It prides itself on having one of the largest whiskey collections in Portland, and though the stock is always changing, it's full of bourbon, rye, and whiskey from Japan, Canada, Ireland, and Scotland. Custom whiskey flights and pairings are available, as are house-made picklebacks. The bar also serves standout pub fare like smoked gouda grilled cheese, elk burgers, and caramelized onion-topped mac & cheese.