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Mar 18, 2011 01:54 PM

The best Burger in Portland, Oregon

Have made this a recent burger quest and eaten many all over town. Grew up near Helvetia Tavern who's burgers are good, and eat them often so the big bun standard to measure against for me - as the restaurant was co-owned with Helvetia (back in the Andy / Cindy days before they split) the Carver Hangar has nearly the same burger with great atmosphere where you can throw peanuts on the floor. The Carver Hanger still has a small pizza burger on their menu a favorite and will make them for me in a large size as a special request. Helvetia Tavern discontinued pizza burgers long ago as a cost savings when workers complained took too long to prepare when busy. The Carver Hangar large pizza burger with extra sauce is a favorite try to eat often, while not something 'normal'. So will focus on more normal burgers.

Also Used to go to Stanich's which was a favorite my grandfather introduced me to when a little kid living on that side of town. Stanich's closed two years ago and didn't know until tried to go a few months back. The Mad Greek Deli has a great burger and chicken sandwich in addition to their Mad Greek Sandwiches, Mad Americans, Greek fries, salads, deserts, etc.

The Lighthouse Restaurant in Linton has my absolute current favorite burger in Portland. For about $6.95 or so is a consistently good value never regret ordering. I always cut it in quarters as find big burgers easier to eat quartered. The Lighthouse burger has ham, egg, bacon, and all kinds of goodies so when not hungry enough take half home and find is good later - it seems tall and too big to eat when it gets to your table. The Lighthouse home made soups here are also a value and come in a huge bowl, so skip the the normal little cup here. Heinz and his wife who used to run the Gypsy in NW Portland downtown, who bought the Lighthouse from Rosie, recently sold the place but the cook is the same. Had a burger earlier this week that I so enjoyed wanted to share and see if anyone else knows of good burgers around stump town.

4915 NE Fremont St, Portland, OR 97213

Mad Greek Deli
18450 NW West Union Rd, Portland, OR 97229

10808 NW Saint Helens Rd, Portland, OR 97231

Carver Hangar
16196 SE Highway 224, Damascus, OR 97089

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  1. first, only one of those places is actually_in_Portland, and second I have eaten at three of them(never been to the Lighthouse) and they are most definitely 3rd. tier burgers. Those not only shouldn't be mentioned with "the best"(which would include, Gruner, Metrovino, Slow Bar, Toro Bravo, Cassidy's, etc...)but are hardly note worthy even when considering "tavern burgers".

    feel free to check out the burger rankings that Portland Monthly did or did awhile back. Should be a good primer for you to get a taste of the actual best.

    Toro Bravo
    120 NE Russell St Ste A, Portland, OR 97212

    2 Replies
    1. re: nkeane

      Bet none of the fancy burger places have a Pizza burger as good as the Carver Hangar makes and the big Hangar burger with extra goop is not a bad thing. You should try a Lighthouse burger for $7 as can not be beat anywhere around Portland IMHO - fresh, good, big. Most of the places you mention will not serve a burger I get two meals out of when hungry - they do not use oversized buns just normal wimpy things small bun one patty. If not on an oversized bun with at least two patties, do not feel they should not be considered! McDonalds has a double burger with cheese for $1 and two of those fill me up - can go to Carls Jr with a Green Burrito and get two 'big burgers' for less than $3 then and load them up with onion cilantro, salsa, and eat every bite with hot sauce. The places you bring up that serve 'normal-every-day' burgers do not compare here when hungry after a long day working - and do not fill me up so for the expense would rather go to McDonalds, Wendy's, Carls Jr, or Burger King than the places you mention as to me are not a good value so do not eat them. For the money would rather have a steak or something if go out - your places are very proud of inexpensive burger makings. Most restaruants in town do do not surve a big bun double patty burger similar to what Stanich's had with extras like egg bacon ham as the Lighthouse still does today, so to me the places you bring up to me are not in the same league. They are rip offs with average burgers we can make at home for much less so to me are not a value worth spending extra hard earned money on. Correct me if I'm wrong, while it seems you are trying to compare a single patty wimpy thing to what I consider real burgers with value do not regret ordering after I eat. Could get two at the places you bring up, but that would cost twice as much making it a further rip off - for the same price could have a steak at Country Kitchen or something which would taste better for the cash spent. Every 'tavern' burger I mentioned is on a big 8" Franz fresh local bun with at least two burger patties. The burgers you bring up do not go there so to me are not even close. The places I bought up have better burgers that are a value you almost can't duplicate at home for the money spent. Claudias also has a good burger if I recall correctly on Hawthorne.

      10808 NW Saint Helens Rd, Portland, OR 97231

      Carver Hangar
      16196 SE Highway 224, Damascus, OR 97089

      3006 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214

      1. re: smaki

        well clearly the $/calorie ratio is your primary concern.....I doubt I can beat Jack In The Box for that. I guess that means it's teh best.

        Not that you would appreciate such things but most of the burgers I mentioned are high quality, never frozen beef, local, grass fed a lot of the time, and are 1/2lb ground in house patties. If a giant HFCS Franz bun is your bench mark for quality, I don't really think we see eye to eye on what the definition of edible is.

    2. The Stanich's that is actually in Portland (on NE Fremont) is still open.

      4915 NE Fremont St, Portland, OR 97213

      1. Some great photos on I'm a fan of Killer Burger on sandy, and Gruner which is available only at the bar and I figured out is best ordered to go since it's difficult to get a seat at the bar and I love the tasty burger at Tasty and Sons. A friend recommended the duck fat seared kobe burger at Burnside Brewing which will be the next one I'll be scoping out.

        5 Replies
        1. re: duckduck

          DuckDuck, Great burger information from the site while appears a re-print from a Willamete Week story done last summer. No it doesn't always have to be on an 8" bun and many of these burgers look yummy. The burger review on the duckduck provided link is good with pictures from a guy at Willamette Week who had 72 diffrent burgers in a short time in Portland at:

          Here are the sides recommended for burgers:

          And the steak houses I like also are reviewed at:

          Good stuff to talk about from burgers to sides to steak. El Gaucho is good when want to celebrate, but kinda pricey at double or tripple others then they want you to pay for all your sides and the drinks are also sold at premium prices. But, even an expensive steak house like El Gaucho may be a bargan compared to some of those $20 burgers reviewed.

          Yes many of those burgers cost $20 each !!!

          For the over $30 a plate price I usually hit the London Grill for a great dining experience with company and usually eat a flaming pepper steak. When going to spend some money out I like my waiters to be in tuxedos, my steak to be cooked at my table, my flaming bannana desert cooked at the table, love my last name on the matchbooks in gold marking our seats, and for my guests to get a red rose from the main server with no prices their menu. That is a level of service way beyond El Gaucho for similar or less money.

          The Chart House on Terwillegar also has been a favorite haunt for years and wait for a window seat in the bar downstairs as find the view for dinner is worth it. But expansive. Every side costs you these days it is not all including. Ruth Chris' and the Ringside are also good but too expensive to be compared to burger places.

          If want to just go out and ead a decent steak for a decent price with all the fixin's go get a 16oz Top Sirloin at Sayler's for $22.95 (Porterhouse there is good also with a 24oz going for $29.95). Would rather eat a steak with all the trimmings instead of a $20 burger like Willamete Week reviewed - and some enjoy. Do not think a rib eye is the best steak to compare places as has lots of fat so requires special cooking, but this meat eater found the review a fun read even if not comparing the same kind of places at very different price points.

          As there are different levels in steak houses and we started talking burgers here... often I decide when going out to eat a burger, mexican, thai, pizza, or a steak when there there is not a huge difrerence in prices based on taste craving at the time. El Gaucho, Ringside, Ruth Chris', Chart House, London Grill, etc ... would not be on the radar with prices and access difficult for me to swallow unless a special occasion at >$35+ per plate. However, places like the Horseshoe Bar and Grill in Oregon City have a Rib Eye steak on Tuesday nights for $10 with all the fixins. With selecting the right place in Portland, we can eat a real steak for the price of a tavern burger in some places. Horseshoe also ofters another kind of steak on Saturday nights for $8 with all the fixin's. And Horseshoe is not he only one in town oftering discound steak specials. Rather than eating a $20 'tavern burger' would rather go out and find a tavern steak for less than a premium burger place - heck could get two steaks for the price of one of those fancy burgers.

          This week Albertson's has top sirloin steak to cook at home for $3.99 / lb. If consume about a pound, it will taste better than any burger in town with a salad and vegi for an entire meal cost of $5. And I get my steaks and meat from family for $2-3 per pound with no hormones. If fancy burgers cost $20 when many are not that big and leave me hungry after eating, it seems smarter to stay home and eat steak - or find other options.

          For me to leave the house and not cook, it needs to be an affordable bargain like the Country Kitchen steak dinners with all the trimmings included unlike the other steak places in town, Lighthouse burger for $7 can not eat even when hungry, or Horseshoe Tuesday night $10 ribeye. Otherwise I will enjoy meals at home with my friends and family tay home unless a very special occation.

          El Gaucho
          319 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97205

          Ringside Steakhouse
          2165 W Burnside, Portland, OR 97210

          Ruth's Chris Steak House - Portland
          309 SW Third Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

          Chart House
          5700 SW Terwilliger Blvd, Portland, OR 97239

          London Grill
          309 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97205

          Horseshoe Bar & Grill
          27534 S Highway 213, Mulino, OR 97042

          Sayler's Old Country Kitchen
          10519 SE Stark St, Portland, OR 97216

          1. re: smaki

            Glad you enjoyed my burger reviews. The top 10 were actually printed in Willamette Week, whereas a large number of the rest were published only on The burgers I ate were actually pretty varied. While some were more upscale with a lot of meat and big buns (like me, even before eating all those burgers), I did eat at places like Burgerville and Mike's, that do fast food/drive-in burgers, and places like Mad Greek, Helvetia, and Slingshot, that do more tavern/bar burgers.

            Some of these are pretty tasty and a very good value. However, excluding price as an issue, like I did, a lot of other burgers were better, imo, due to better quality mean, bread, and toppings, and often more attention to detail when seasoning and cooking the burgers.

            For relatively classic style burgers that aren't too expensive and scored well, look at Violetta, Eastmoreland Kitchen, or Foster Burger. Another good option that opened after these reports is Little Big Burger. Their burgers start at only about $3 and generally are very good. Their fries are especially good.

            Some classic style burgers that are more expensive, but worth it, imo, are Metrovino's burger (cheaper and smaller at happy hour) and Tasty n Son's burger.

            8218 NE Glisan St, Portland, OR 97220

            Tasty n Sons
            3808 N Williams Ave, Portland, OR 97227

            1. re: extramsg

              Next here will try try Little Big Burger as hear can get a Tillamook cheese burger for $3.75. And truffle oil on my fries sounds interesting - breaking the routine keeps it fun so love to try new new places.

              Usually when go out for a burger go to the Lighthouse in Linton and have a Lighthouse Burger with a side as said as find it worth the drive and $7 spent. Also like the Decoy next door in Linton. Both places have good cooks, varried menus, a full bar, kids friendly dining is possible, and find decent food for reasonable prices.

              When exploring the best in Portland Oregon food in restaurants, burgers, pizza, steaks, seafood, online found these links useful to find info from people sharing ideas as well as to trigger personal memories at places all over Portland. Most of the sites rank restaurants by price, food, styles, and location. If anyone else has a favorite link to Portland / Vancouver Metro restaurant food restaurant ideas online please share also.

              About restaurants and food of all kinds all around the Portland Metro Area:

              Good summary about Portland Food on CH a few years ago (it started good and the thread kept going and going ... found a good read):

              Another good summary of Portland food restaurants in 2011:

              Google is now doing a better job of pooling current rated reviews with dots on a map at:

              This is a where to compare Google reviews but you will need a free login to view reviews even if do not contribute at:

              Seems those who do not believe in cars and students wrote this (not as complete):

              A review of the "The Best Chef Northwest" category of the "James Beard Foundation Awards" which covers restaurants in Oregon and Washington as well as Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming has several finalists from Portland:

              A book that get good reviews on Portland I borrowed from my local library to read is:

              1. re: smaki

                It seems the most efficient way to bring up all the current reviews in one place (without having to login to Google) is to go to:

                First put in Portland, OR and search to get there on the map. Then add what you are looking for:
                "happy hour"
                "shabu shabu"

                And search again. Add / combine words to refine. If needed, search many times until find something interesting.

                When see a red dot on the map you like, hover over it with your mouse, and then select 'more info' and another page will open - it will take you to a 'Google Places' listing with a summary of online reviews in one place when you scroll down (yelp, citysearch, urbanspoon, google reviews, restaurant website, pictures from the owner of food, pictures of the place, etc). Google has recently been putting time with money into 'Google Places' to make it the best place online to research any business. Find it nice to see many of the most current reviews of dining experiences, while does not have it all yet! Have seen Google Places get better since launched - and it has grown into a very useful resource. Seeing constant improvement is encouraging - Google has made big improvements to Google Places especially in the last year.

                NOTE: The link requires a Google login is to be a reviewer of Google Places - one who adds first hand information about experiences. While is where to go to view information if not adding new data.

                As is still early enough, it seems wise for staff (if not already engaged) to find a way to work closer with Google to get CH reviews and information to best show up on Google Places around the globe.

                1. re: smaki

                  There is also if you're looking to make a complete listing of where to read up.

          2. Jubitz in North Portland changed their burger recipe. I tried one the other day and at 1/2# for $8.95 it may be my new favorite burger. I used to swing through town and stop here often. The burgers used to be pretty lame (you know like a frozen patty on a generic bun etc etc.) These burgers now are obviously hand pressed, juicy, and Huge. With their sauce its awesome ... Highly recommend you try it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chips86

              @ Chips86, Thank you for the tip about Jubitz. Will give it a try, while not very close to me will go out of my way to eat one.

              Recently had a Yargo burger at the Mad Greek Deli for $7.95 I enjoyed. Top shelf is also their Mad Chicken and cold sandwiches like the Mad American (made with mayo and light mustard) or Mad Greek (made with Italian dressing instead of mayo). They have remodeled and it is nicer inside than it used to be with a wine bar and beer on tap.

              Lighthouse update. Had a Lighthouse burger two days ago and they are under new management. Place is cleaned up with not so many of the donated kick nacks hanging from the ceiling. The burger has two bigger McDs angus-like thicker better tasting hamburger patties and went up two dollars to $8.95 from the $6.95 it used to be - to me it is still for sure one of the best in town.

              There are places in town where the ingredients are top shelf and have seen over $20 wimpy burgers that do not fill me up - for the $20 I'd rather go to Sayler's Country Kitchen and get a steak with all the fixings (or lots of places). I've eaten good ingredient burgers possibly a bit overpriced at: Gruner, Metrovino, Slow Bar, Toro Bravo, Cassidy's, etc. After trying several find I don't want to pay for fresh never frozen meat as do not notice a difference well done. Do like it grass fed, hard to find out and when do over pay for it. The meat I like at home is grass fed no hormones or antibiotics ... when go out we don't know what it is no matter what they say, so I go for best value. Reality is out in the stores and restaurants trying to eat quality ingredients is not possible. If want quality ingredients I cook at home (and is what I do most of the time). Once in a while it is convenient / fun to go out and splurge, and the few times I do, find don't really worry about what is going in as long as it tastes good. Because much of the food in the generic food supply is poison, I simply don't eat out. To control the quality of what goes in my mouth I mostly eat at home and often buy directly from farmers or eat fresh out of my garden.

              As to fast food places. I grew up eating a McDonald's Big Mac's. Like them with EXTRA-EXTRA sauce while find most locations charge me 30-60 cents more per sandwich to goop it up. On my way home from seeing the Ducks loose to LSU Saturday night stopped at McDonald's in Scappoose to do 2 for one Big Mac's. They made them very saucy without extra charge. For $3.59 I enjoyed eating the two of them when got home! Do remember where can get an extra sauce Big Mac for regular price. Cut in them half at home on a plate and seemed to be less messy than eating whole and not being able to put down (usually end up with sauce all over my hand squeezing out the back side). Big Mac's were always a favorite as a kid. Flame broiled places and Wendy's beef tastes better to me, while about 4 times a year I splurge and eat my old favorite Big Mac's very juicy with EXTRA EXTRA sauce.

              Another favorite saucy thing to do is get two Carl's Jr Big Burgers on sale usually for $1.29 each. I like salsa, hot peppers, and veggies. At Green Burrito Carl's Jr locations you can then take your burger over to the salsa bar. Put as much chopped onion, cilantro, and fresh salsa as you want on it. Put a few of the little yellow fairly hot peppers in a cup to eat on the side. Then I get about three little cups of the red hot sauce on the salsa bar, and poor fresh good tasting hot sauce on each bite as eat it. A bit messy but filling and very good tasting to me for $2.58

              Mad Greek Deli
              18450 NW West Union Rd, Portland, OR 97229

              Toro Bravo
              120 NE Russell St Ste A, Portland, OR 97212