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What's so special about Burgerville?

Hello burger aficionados,

I've noticed a lot of fairly rave reviews/recommendations for Burgerville USA, and having gone there twice and sampled a bit of their product, I don't get it. I do not care much for their shakes; the seasonal Blackberry was OK, but was full of seeds, and the seasonal hazelnut was downright nasty -- for the record, I like hazelnuts and many hazelnut products. The fries are so-so. The burger patties are OK (Yeah, I've heard about how they supposedly use high-grade, local beef, so save it), but the buns are soggy and limp (why can't they toast or grill them, for cryin' out loud?). Their onion rings aren't bad, but you don't get a lot in an order. Overall fairly mediocre; other family members concur with my appraisal. It may beat Micky D's (what doesn't?), but I think I prefer even Burger King over B-ville, although I haven't eaten at one in years. From what I remember of Dick's in SEA -- albeit a score years ago -- their burgers are better/tastier.

As back story, I grew up in PDX and never ate at B-ville; their commercials and outside decor gave me the impression, even as a high schooler, of being a hack chain. And for those aforementioned score years, I lived in Pasadena, CA -- a chow haven. Give me an In-n-Out or Tommy's burger any day -- not to mention those from a myriad of very tasty independent or small-chain burger/fast-food joints down there. They know how to make burgers down there, I'll tell you what. So perhaps I'm spoiled.

Alas, now that I've moved back to the PNW and visit PDX, most of the old-school independent fast-food/burger joints I remember from my youth there are no more. Can anybody give some recommendations on old-school burger drive-ins in the greater PDX area?

As an aside on SoCal burger joints, they are just plain legion down there. While in grad school, I met a fella studying air pollution in the LA basin. He told me that the primary source of very fine, i.e. small, air particulates there are the kitchen exhausts from these places.

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  1. No argument here. I wish it weren't so, and I'm sure Steak and Sheak and In and Out and even Whataburger down in Texas all taste better 'cause their food is junkier, but Burgerville does not excite me like I want it too. Sweet potato fries are probably the best thing on the menu.

    Can't agree about Burger King though.

    There's a burger drive in place in Vancouver, WA that looked in intriguing. I have never been though.

    1. I don't get Burgerville, I really, really don't get Dick's, and I'm very sorry but In-n-Out isn't all that either. Do I hate burgers? Hell no! Do I hate the above mentioned places? No.

      And I wish people would get over it. It's just freakin' fast food.

      4 Replies
      1. re: sebetti

        Its all about expectations. All of the places mentioned above are fast food burgers. Are the gourmet? no, but they are damn sure tasty. I, personally, cannot eat gourmet every meal. I often have cravings for a thin, greasy burger topped with nasty processed American cheese. I guess its nostalgic but none the less still delicious.

        1. re: sebetti

          Where are some of your favorite burgers, Sebetti?

          1. re: GreenYoshi

            I would first like to admit that I was in a pretty rank mood when I posted above.
            I was just annoyed at how nit-picky obessessive people get over a simple fast-food burger. You like it or you don't and there's a pretty good chance that you'll favor what you are used to or grew up with, that's just the way it is.

            I eat at Burgerville here in Portland and I do eat at In-n-Out when I'm in CA. I like both...and every once in awhile I do go to Micky-D's because (smirk) their fries are the best damn fast-food fries out there and no one can convince me otherwise.

          2. re: sebetti

            Haven't had Burgerville.

            But to lump In-N-Out and Dick's in the same sentence is blasphemy.

          3. I love Dick's, In and out, and Burgerville.

            I like that Burgerville is trying to be green. They make and effort to buy from sustainable, local farmers. Their products are in season only, or they take them off the menu (I've had burgers without tomatoes when tomatoes were not looking good... I'll take that over a green tomato just because it's on the menu!).

            Their eggs are cage-free. Beef is hormone free. Their vegetarian entrees are cooked on a seperate grill from their meat. They pay competative wages. They give back to their community.

            That being said, their fruit drinks are not that great (I agree they have a LOT of seeds). They are expensive, but not too bad if you are used to buying organic or free-range products.

            The best burger I've found is in Aberdeen, Washington (up on the mid-coast of Washington). They make their own marinade. Tillamook Cheddar. Thick pickle slice. Friendly service.

            Tell me when you find a decent local (Portland/Vancouver) burger.

            3 Replies
            1. re: sulbin

              It is the halibut Fish & Chips. No, they are not the best anyone has ever had, but, for the price, they are not bad. Other than the shakes (and yes, the Marionberry ones have seeds, but they are might tasty) that is about all we order there and we do it regularly. Order the 6 piece and it feeds two. Not gourmet, but not bad for a cheap halibut hit.

              1. re: sulbin

                What's the name of the place in Aberdeen?

                1. re: GreenYoshi

                  The Hotdog Stand.

                  It's behind the main Aberdeen Fire Station. It's worth the drive.

              2. I've yet to be thrilled with any of their big burgers but I love their small cheeseburgers. Their small bbq bacon cheeseburgers used to rock. I knew many who found them addictive but they did away with those long ago.

                1. I've only eaten at Burgerville once. I reported on that visit last summer. I really liked the onion rings, because they used large pieces of a good mild onion. They were really about the onion, not the breading. I purposely chose the smallest order (3), so the quantity didn't bother me.

                  I had a bacon burger. If I recall correctly, it was a little under salted. In a sense that was good (don't need a lot of salt), but I can see where some would not be impressed. A few months later I had a similar burger at a Sooke BC diner that I liked just as well, if not more.

                  Yes the blackberry drinks have seeds, but so do freshly picked berries.


                  1. In N out is way better than burgerville. They dont freeze their beef so their burgers are juicier. Their lettuce stands crisp and their tomatoes are thicker. It also costs less.

                    Burgerville has a great idea of using local, vegetarian-fed and antibiotic-free beef for their burgers but it doesn't taste any different than a freezer burger. The beef is very dry and the lettuce is extremely thin and wilted. The same goes for their fries.

                    1. Burgerville, to me, is fast food for people who don't like fast food (that'd be me) for whatever reason. The burgers aren't all smooshy and funky-smelling like fast food burgers. It's real food--you can trace the beef, and the chicken, and the halibut, and even the cheese back to the source, and you know it's high-quality stuff that's generally local (important in the days when beef is recalled from across the entire bleepin' country because some irresponsible huge cattle factory sold us downer cows...ew). Special things are seasonal--you only get the onion rings when Walla Walla onions are in season. Ditto the sweet potato fries, the various milkshakes, and so on. And the wind power doesn't hurt.

                      It's not something extra-special, it's just a step or two above anywhere else you can drive through in the area. I can think of a dozen burgers in town I've enjoyed more, but not for three bucks out of a drive-thru.

                      You may want to eat at a BK again before giving them some sort of credit for being better than McD's. They're both smooshy grey stuff inside a bun. I keep finding myself dating men who think that's actually edible food, and think the refillable soda means they've GOT TO GET THEIR MONEY'S WORTH (and then genuinely wonder where that belly came from), so sadly, I'm more familiar with these places than I have any desire to be. If anything, Burgerville gets some credit from me for smelling like something other than freezer burn and bleach.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: lpfaf

                        I thought this post would be provocative and it was. I really appreciate all the responses. BV's apparent relative "greenness" over other chains does seem to be something worth considering when getting one's drive-through chow on. I'll also try some of the non-burger "entrees" at BV, which fellow 'hounds have recommended.

                        This past weekend, upon some reflection, I decided that I owed it to all to go check out BK this decade in order to ensure my familiarity with its product. I went twice; once for a whopper with cheese. It really wasn't that bad. Sure, the patty had that typical generic, gray burger taste (I did have in my mind's palate the taste of BK's charbroiled burgers from 35+ years ago, until I had this one, I must admit); however, the toppings (lettuce, tomato and pickle) all were firm and fresh, as was the bun. The toppings are important, which is part of the reason I am not so impressed with BV's burgers. Second time I went I got the BK big fish sandwich; on it the lettuce was more akin to the limp stuff on a MD fillet-o-fish, and the fish patty had a very fish after taste. I'll have to try a few more BV items before I make my definitive BK vs. BV comparison.

                        It seems like just about all respondents got the right idea, in that I was asking about burgers relative to other fast-food/drive-in burger places, not high-end gourmet burgers. I mention this, just in case anyone was wondering what the point of this discussion was.

                        Since someone mentioned a good drive-in in Aberdeen WA, I'll also bring up an obscure Evergreen State burger joint: Burger Boy in Goldendale WA (it's in town proper, not amongst the highway shwag right along hwy 97). Its burger baskets are very good; the fries are battered before frying, which gives 'em extra flavor, texture and bad cholesterol goodness; the patties are tasty and the toppings to my liking. I'm not going to defend BB's buffet however -- that's definitely a caveat emptor deal.

                      2. The 9 grain turkey club is a great sandwich, and one that is rarely if ever found in a fast food place with a drive-thru. I rarely eat burgers there but in addition to the turkey sandwich I love the onion rings (and frankly, an order of 3 is usually enough for me) and the sweet potato fries. I have tried the fish and chips and think they are pretty good, certainly above any other fast food joints, and sometimes even better than in some restaurants.

                        I get smoothies instead of shakes there (same seasonal flavors, little to no fat, can't tell the difference unless I drink them side by side) and some flavors are better than others. My fave is the strawberry, and though I like the other berry flavors, I can see what you mean about the seeds. I also like the chocolate peppermint they have during the winter holidays and the pumpkin that is out around Thanksgiving. About six years ago I had a peach shake, but I haven't seen that one since...too bad, it was a great flavor.

                        1. The burgers are just okay but I love Burgerville for their fish and chips- they don't use chopped up mystery fish like most others. I also gain 5 pounds every fall when they have their sweet potato fries. I wish they'd come out with a salad that's good - they have a smoked salmon one with hazelnuts but they just dump it on iceburg lettuce.

                          1. I think their burgers - just had two last weekend - are excellent. I'm not a big fan of GOURMENT burgers etc. I like something closer to an In' N' Out burger - this one is similar - not as good in terms of presentation, but better in terms of quality of ingredients.

                            this is a special company - summed up well in Seth Godin's (pioneer of new marketing / web 2.0 / silicon valley giant) book "Small is the New Big"
                            "Remarkable means something worth talking about. This month's Gourment magazine (not acutally THIS month) talks about a chain of burger places in the northwest called Burgerville. It's not that expensive and it's amazing (italicized). We're talking choclate hazlenut shakes (fresh, local and wild) salmon salad with Tillamook cheese. Onion rings that (ready for this?) are only available when onions are in season.
                            I didn't know onions even HAD a season.
                            Worth a detour. Worth talking about. Now that's remarkable"

                            I agree whole heartedly.

                            1. I like Burgerville a lot. I'm not a big fast food fan, but will stop here occasionally on road trips or when working out of town-feel much better about feeding their food to myself and my kids than any other quick road trip food. Their sweet potato fries are fabulous. I love the fruit shakes, the pumpkin, and the chocolate peppermint. I'm not a huge burger fan, but think there's beat most other fast food joints-love that they use Tillamook cheese and local beef and bacon. And the caramel sauce on their soft-serve sundaes is really, really good.

                              So, the taste and the local food are both important to me-but man, their service rocks. The first time I stopped there, I asked a question about the menu, and the man behind the counter stopped, bent over the paper menu with me, and talked to me a bout different things on the menu, his recommendations, best value, etc. I think their service is consistently great-and you sure can't get that at most fast food restaurants.