Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Burger A Day

Greg and I do not eat red meat very often, maybe once or twice a month at most. So Portland Burger Week presents a unique challenge for me, which is mainly to not make myself sick by overindulging in all things bovine. Thankfully, several of the restaurants participating in this year’s event offered non-beef burgers so I made sure to seek out a few of them.

This year was not my first rodeo, but it is the first time I made an actual effort to go to more than one or two places during Burger Week. In 2013, the inaugural year, I went to Foster Burger. It was my first time there and I didn’t have the foresight to avoid the lunch rush. Thus I had to wait in line for about 30 minutes just to get a seat at the bar. But, oh, was that burger delicious, as were the “black and white fries” and the beer I had with it.
Bacon Kimcheese at Foster Burger in 2013
Last year, I went to Widmer for a late lunch. Again, I grabbed a seat at the bar and ended up chatting with a few regulars as well as a some tourists. The burger was messy and delicious, and I couldn't resist pairing it with a couple of pub-only brews.
American Kobe Cheeseburger at Widmer Gasthaus in 2014
As with most eating endeavors, while I certainly have favorite haunts, I like to try places I haven’t been to before and/or food that is unique in some way. The same goes for this year's Burger Week, although sometimes the locations were dictated by other activities I/we were doing that day, and also required easy access via public transit.

I usually do not order side items because, frankly, it’s all I can do to eat an entire burger of any size. However, I did play by the rules and at least ordered a beer (or several). Note that I shared three of my burgers with Greg, which allowed us to try more than one burger (or enjoy another meal, like dim sum) on the same day. A link to the description of each burger is embedded in the burger's name.

Day 1 of Burger Week: Monday, August 10, 2015

To be honest, I still wasn't ready to be out & about on Monday. I just returned home from my uncle's funeral in Indiana on Friday and spent the weekend indoors with Greg. I couldn't focus, didn't have much of an appetite, and definitely didn't feel like socializing, especially with strangers.

Day 2 of Burger Week: Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I was forced to leave the house because I had an afternoon appointment to establish care with a new doctor through our new insurance (Kaiser Permanente). I decided to make the most of it and run errands near Lloyd Center. While I could have taken the MAX from there to the doctor's office near Gateway, I decided to take the bus instead up to NE Fremont and Lil' Wares. Their burger week offering was called " The Sleaze" and it paired perfectly with a pilsner from Plank Town Brewing.
My first burger turned out to be one of my favorites.

Day 3 of Burger Week: Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I had already made plans to meet my friend Rachel at noon for lunch at Burnside Brewing. Of course, the place was packed, with a line out the door to place your food and drink order, then another line outside to get your burger. Rachel grabbed us a table inside and I waited in line outside in the hot sun for 20+ minutes to get our Drrty burgers.
Rachel and I both ordered the $8 special of burger, beer, and shot of Jim Beam.
The best deal in town and also one of the best burgers I had all week.
As we sat for a few hours and nibbled on our burgers and drank a few beers, I bumped into several friends whom I hadn't seen since we moved a month ago. This was the best day overall in terms of the social aspect of Burger Week. The only negative was when Rachel texted me later to say she ended up in the ER after tripping on a curb and hurting her shoulder.

Day 4 of Burger Week: Thursday, August 13, 2015

Greg and I had made plans to meet downtown after he got off work. We were shopping for some dress shirts for his new job, plus we wanted to do some Iceland trip research at Powell's. We started at Portland Penny Diner, where we shared the Sweet Onion Burger. It was simple, but tasty, especially the browned Walla Walla sweet onions.
Sweet Onion Burger at Portland Penny Diner
After walking around for a few hours, we were ready for round #2 at Davis Street Tavern. Their Yucatan Burger was the smallest of any I had all week, and honestly it was pretty bland considering the list of "spicy" ingredients. It didn't help that the restaurant was not air conditioned so it was quite stuffy and uncomfortably warm as we sat at the bar and shared a burger and a $6 pint of beer.
Yucatan Burger at Davis Street Tavern

Day 5 of Burger Week: Friday, August 14, 2015

We took a break from burgers today and ate one of our favorite meals - Mediterranean Shrimp Pasta.

Day 6 of Burger Week: Saturday, August 15, 2015

A beautiful, cooler day, perfect for hiking up to the top of Mt. Tabor to watch the Portland Adult Soap Box Derby. We watched the racers and the spectators for a couple of hours then walked down to SE Belmont for a beer.
One of my favorite entries in the Soap Box Derby.
After a nice pub crawl featuring stops at Horse Brass and Belmont Station, we made our way to Ya Hala where we each ordered the featured Hala Burger. Since we had already had a few beers, we just drank water, but also ordered tabouli, which was a nice, refreshing way to start the meal. The restaurant was busy and the kitchen seemed to be having difficulty keeping up with all of the orders. After waiting about 10 minutes for a table, we waited another 20+ minutes for our food to be delivered. My favorite ingredient was the tzatziki sauce. This was a great non-beef burger, but it was a bit too salty and made me very thirsty for hours after we ate.
Hala Burger

Day 7 of Burger Week: Sunday, August 16, 2015

We had already planned to run a few errands on Sunday, as well as to start the day with "breakfast" at HK Cafe, which was a nice break from burgers.
dim sum at HK Cafe
After I got my hair cut by Kim at Shear Success, where I've been going for the past three years, we walked to the Portland Mercado, since the last time we were there was opening day when it was crazy busy. Then we walked a bit farther and stopped at N.W.I.P.A. for a beer. Soon enough, we were ready for our final Burger Week offering: the 24K at Foster Burger.
This time we ordered the fries.
The 24K was good but fairly simple and a bit overcooked.
To sum it up, I got to try six burgers in five days. A couple were outstanding, and a couple were kind of meh. I did not get sick or have any gastrointestinal distress. However I probably gained a few pounds. I don't think Greg was overly impressed with any of the four burgers he tried. In fact, he said "I just want to go to Serratto for happy hour" (when you can get their scrumptious 1/2 pound cheeseburger and fries for $8).
Greg, about to enjoy the happy hour burger at Serratto in April, 2014.
There are plenty of places that didn't participate in Burger Week that are known for their great hamburgers. I've had a few, but do hope to try more of them in the coming months. Still, I suspect when August rolls around next year, I'll be preparing a plan of attack for Burger Week 2016!

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