HOME > Chowhound > Northern New England >

Discussion

Best Cheeseburger in Portland, Maine

Just moved to Portland after 9 years in Boston.

I need to find the best cheeseburger in Portland. I know 5 Guys is here but I'd like to avoid that. So, I'm asking for your help. Who serves the best cheeseburger in Portland and why?

Thanks

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. A little spot called Harmon's Lunch in Falmouth is my favorite burger stop. They're just small burgers, not big steakhouse burgers, but so tasty and fresh and you can get them with caramelized onions. The french fries are fresh-cut and a big bonus.
    The Great Lost Bear does good cheeseburgers too, with their special cheese sauce that makes them a little out of the ordinary.
    Try 'em both and get back to us!

    -----
    The Great Lost Bear
    540 Forest Ave, Portland, ME 04101

    Harmon's Lunch
    144 Gray Rd, ME 04105

    2 Replies
    1. re: jackattack

      Thanks for suggestions. I'll have to get to both soon.

      If you have reccomendations for Old Port/Downtown I'm all ears.

      1. re: eric10dk

        I've always gotten a great burger at Ruskis, which used to be owned by the same person as Rosie's on Fore St. I assume they have the same burger.

    2. Although I'm not that much of a burger guy, I do get one now and then at The Great Lost Bear which is also a great bar with great beer choices (and really good fries). I hit Harmon's now and then, not necessarily because the burger is so good but more because the place is a piece of Americana. Never had the burger but someone was just raving about the Dogfish Cafe - there's one on Free St. not far from the Old Port. I've had burgers at Gritty's and 3 Dollar Deweys but don't remember them being memorable either good or bad. I did like the Nosh burger at Nosh - they have some interesting burgers and sandwiches.

      -----
      The Great Lost Bear
      540 Forest Ave, Portland, ME 04101

      3 Replies
      1. re: bobbert

        Thanks bobbert. The Great Lost Bear is on the agenda for next week. I'll report back on my thoughts.

        -----
        The Great Lost Bear
        540 Forest Ave, Portland, ME 04101

        1. re: eric10dk

          I think the Great Lost Bear is terrible for a whole lot of reasons..
          Rosie's, Grill Room or Silly's take the cake.........

          -----
          The Great Lost Bear
          540 Forest Ave, Portland, ME 04101

          Grill Room
          84 Exchange St, Portland, ME 04101

        2. re: bobbert

          That was me raving about Dogfish Cafe. Someone in that thread suggested Sillys was better so I went last week. The place is cool, and the burger was good, but in my mind it doesn't compare to dogfish at all. The great lost bear has terrible burgers. I haven't tried any cheeseburgers atnthe more high end places suggested in this thread. When I crave a burger, it's generally around the same time I crave a casual place mostly bellying up to the bar. Next stop for me after reading this thread will likely be a burger at the bar at grace.

        3. I'm a native Mainer, but I relocated to Portland after living in Boston for some of my 20s and a bit of my 30s a few years ago. I hope you're enjoying yourself--
          There's no burger in Portland as delicious or food coma-inducing as R.F.O'Sullivans in Somerville but there are many burgers prepared in different ways in town, so you have options depending on what you like.
          Here's a few of my favorites:
          For a bar burger, Rosies Tavern on Fore Street. Big and thick, and always properly cooked to order. I've never had my medium rare burger arrive overcooked, and I've been enjoying burgers at Rosies since the 1990s, which makes me very happy. Rosie's is usually my first choice when I'm craving a burger and a beer...
          If you're looking to get a bit more locavorish--we raise some tasty cows in Maine and many local restaurants make great use of them--
          The burger at the Grill Room on Exchange Street is my husband's favorite. It's beef from Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, I think. The burger is huge--served on a square of toasted focaccia rather than a bun so the kitchen isn't even limited by standard bun sizes-- with aioli and a homemade tomato confit. You can add bacon or one of many cheeses, as well--one of the nice things about the Grill Room is that the bar and kitchen stays open during that interstitial space between lunch and dinner (which in Maine is between 2ish and 4-5ish), so if you're in the Old Port craving a really good burger at, say, 3:30 in the afternoon, you can sit at the bar and enjoy one. I've heard locals complain about the price ($12-ish, I think) but it doesn't bother me as it's a meal-of-the-day sort of burger. The Front Room on Congress St. is the same owner--they also make a tasty burger.
          Other great local burgers of note: Caiola's in the West End (I've had this topped with a fried egg and called it brunch on many a Sunday--it's served with homemade tater tots), Petite Jacqueline on State Street/555 on Congress (same owner--555 is more fine dining but their bar burger is another $12ish burger that's worth it), Local 188 on Congress (local meat and really good homemade brioche buns!).
          A bit on Nosh--Nosh makes thin flattop-cooked patties cooked all the way through with a mix of beef and pork. Many Portlanders love them--it's just not to my taste. I do love their bacon dusted fries tho--
          I

          -----
          Fore Street
          288 Fore Street, Portland, ME 04101

          Grill Room
          84 Exchange St, Portland, ME 04101

          Caiola's
          58 Pine St, Portland, ME 04102

          Front Room Restaurant & Bar
          73 Congress St Ste A, Portland, ME 04101

          Local 188
          685 Congress St, Portland, ME 04102

          Old Port Cafe
          111 Main St, Winterport, ME 04496

          8 Replies
          1. re: sultanaboudreau

            As I'm not a huge burger guy I wil defer to sulton on her choices. I haven't had their burgers but those are all good places that should do a good one. as for the lack of love for The Great Lost Bear, it is not a fine dining spot and I certainly do not go for the food. It's simply a really good local bar with great beer choices. Definitely bypass the dining rom and grab a seat at or near the bar. The best burger around? Probably not but the burger is one of the better things on the menu.

            -----
            The Great Lost Bear
            540 Forest Ave, Portland, ME 04101

            1. re: bobbert

              hey bobbert...I wouldn't exactly call Rosie's fine dining! They have darts and free popcorn. And it's in the Old Port/Downtown area the original poster was looking for...

              I spent too much of the 1990s (when I was in my early 20s) sidled up to the bar at the Great Lost Bear as I used to work very near there to ever want to go back.

              -----
              The Great Lost Bear
              540 Forest Ave, Portland, ME 04101

              1. re: sultanaboudreau

                Hey, I was deferring to you on the burger choices as you’re definitely more knowledgeable when it comes to burgers. I don’t usually eat them and, as I really like the food at the places you picked, I extrapolated and figured the burgers must be good as well so I’m with you. I didn’t mean to imply that Rosie’s was fine dining – it would probably need to step it up a notch or two to become a dive:) Not that I haven’t stopped in for the $4 shot and beer special. Yeah, I can slum with the best of them, fit in and enjoy myself. OP of the OP didn’t mention the Old Port – I was just piggybacking on someone else’s post. Like you, I spent a lot more time at the bar at The Great Lost Bear in the 90’s (maybe once or twice a year now when I’m not in the mood to go intown) although I was quite a bit out of my 20’s so for me, the Bear might be more of a nostalgic play that I will continue to defend. As I’ve said, it’s not for the food, but the bar itself. They were the first bar with 40 taps when 4 was a lot. It hasn’t changed a bit in 20 years and that might turn off those who want something more trendy. Same décor. Same music. Same bumper stickers. Same “electric globe” that you have to touch on the way out. Same bartenders for goodness sake. Yeah, I like the place. As for the OP’s original question, I’d go with sultans choices for a burger. If you do hit the Great Lost Bear, I’d be curious what someone without “history” there thinks.

                -----
                The Great Lost Bear
                540 Forest Ave, Portland, ME 04101

                Old Port Cafe
                111 Main St, Winterport, ME 04496

                1. re: bobbert

                  The shot and a beer might be a Dock Fore. When I'm doing the shot and a beer thing (very rarely FWIW) I sometimes forget where I've been.

                  -----
                  Dock Fore
                  336 Fore St, Portland, ME 04101

                  1. re: sultanaboudreau

                    Yeah, I know. Actually I'm fairly impressed that a woman in her early 20's would have picked The Great Lost Bear for her bar of choice. Instead of never returning, I think you should embrace your past. There were a whole lot of worse Portland places you could have spent your formative years, many of which I would understand never wanting to return to. Even though I had already been drinking beer for many years before, I have to say I really learned about beer at the Bear. I think you can still get a great beer education there. It’s because of The Great Lost Bear that I can truly appreciate a place like Nuvare Res, which I consider grad school for beer drinking. As this is supposed to be about food, the Bear was always a place for a decent burger or cheese steak or something else on the fun menu. It was, and still is, first about the beer with the food a distant second. The food is still the same – the only difference is that so many great food places have sprung up around Portland in the last 10 years or so that it may not look as good by comparison.

                    -----
                    The Great Lost Bear
                    540 Forest Ave, Portland, ME 04101

                    1. re: bobbert

                      I literally worked next door in a place that shared a parking lot with the Bear--I had little choice in the matter!

              2. re: sultanaboudreau

                Stopped in at the Grill Room last night and, because of this thread, decided to try the burger since your husband likes it so much. I have to say, the guy has good taste. This was one of the best burgers I've ever had (caveat - I'm still not a big burger guy), perfectly cooked med - rare - actually ordered med - they tell you that they go down a notch, med rare is cooked rare, med is cooked med rare - I was confused but bottom line is it's a great burger. No bargain at $20 but you do get what will appear to be an endless supply of good fries as well. By the way, my favorite seat when it's just two of us is at the kitchen bar - I'd much rather watch guys cook than bartenders mix drinks and if you're nice, the cooks often throw you tastes.

                -----
                Grill Room
                84 Exchange St, Portland, ME 04101

              3. I wouldn't eat at the Great Lost Bear with my dead great grandfather's mouth.

                Nosh makes some pretty mean burgers.

                Honestly the best burger I've had in Portland is the bar menu burger at Grace. It's kinda small but oh my god is it good. It's reminds me of a smaller version of the burger at 555 which is also really good.

                We're getting Elevation Burger out by Buffalo Wild Wings in South Portland. Not sure when that's opening but I guess it's like an organic version of Five Guys with fries cooked in olive oil.

                I also hear Wild Willy's by the mall is pretty good with good fries as well. I know Bruce who started King Henry VIII's runs Wild Willy's so I'm sure he's keeping it tight and in order.

                But yeah, go to the bar at Grace sometime and get that burger.

                12 Replies
                1. re: grittys457

                  Ok, I'll go to Grace first, Grill Room 2nd and then will go to Great Lost Bear to really find out what's going on there from a food perspective.

                  $12 for a good burger with a side of fries is an OK price to pay...you get what you pay for.

                  -----
                  The Great Lost Bear
                  540 Forest Ave, Portland, ME 04101

                  Grill Room
                  84 Exchange St, Portland, ME 04101

                  1. re: eric10dk

                    Eric
                    don't forget to give us a report..............

                  2. re: grittys457

                    Granted I haven't been to the Great Lost Bear since a few years before I moved out of Portland (late 90's), but I can't believe it's fallen to the level of disrepute that is reflected in this thread.

                    Are you honestly telling me you'd prefer a Crapplebee's burger over saddling up to the bar (with 70 beers on tap) at the GLB?

                    Are the readers of the Portland Phoenix that naive that they actually named the GLB burger best in Portland for 2011?

                    I dunno, maybe I'm playing devil's advocate or maybe I'm incredulous of the criticism being thrown their way....

                    -----
                    The Great Lost Bear
                    540 Forest Ave, Portland, ME 04101

                    1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                      I'll also add that you have to give credit to any establisment willing to serve the following:

                      THE ALMIGHTY CHEESUS BURGER -- No bun, served between two grilled cheese sandwiches with pickles, lettuce & tomatoes.

                      1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                        Not sure anyone's comparing Applebee's Burger to GLB's, but I get where you're at. Regardless, I will be doing a deep dive on most of the establishments listed here and I'll be reporting back!

                        1. re: eric10dk

                          I think my response was more to the "I wouldn't eat at the Great Lost Bear with my dead great grandfather's mouth" comment. Though, maybe I shouldn't presume that grittys 457 would eat a Crapplebee's burger with that same mouth....

                          BTW, there's another thread in the NNE boards praising the burger at Dogfish Cafe.

                          -----
                          The Great Lost Bear
                          540 Forest Ave, Portland, ME 04101

                          1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                            Nothing to do with the burger but the kitchen. I wouldn't eat at Rosie's either. I'm far from a food snob, quite the opposite. I just gotta have a clean and non creepy looking kitchen in view. Of the 150 places we have to eat in this city I probably only have 5-10 I'll eat at due to trusting them not to be nasty. I've worked in the food biz since I was a little kid and I'm just disgusted by what I see by side doors of restaurants. I don't need to see gnarly cook with a disgusting apron smoking a cancer stick and looking like he's out on bail. I must be alone in this feeling cause I see a lot of people packing places intown that obviously haven't had their kitchen cleaned since Clinton was in office.

                            1. re: grittys457

                              I have to say, that's a pretty draconian rule. Needing to have the kitchen "in view" is preventing you from going to some of the best restaurants in the state (including what I personally think to be the best...Primo in Rockland). But hey, to each their own....

                              1. re: MidCoastMaineiac

                                I don't have to have the kitchen in view. You know when a place has decent folks working the kitchen and how much they care about their place. Places like Paciarino or even the lunch place Crooked Mile, you know they care about what they are doing and they all look presentable. Obviously Primo is going to be doing everything right up there.

                                I've just talked with so many delivery guys and even health inspectors over the years, it's just a bad scene out there. I know this is off topic but you guys really don't get bothered walking up to a restaurant and seeing a couple filthy cooks chain smoking by the dumpster? You can tell when a cook wants to work at a place instead of just has to work.

                                And back on topic, I eat at almost no chain restaurants but for what it's worth, Five Guys is probably one of the better options in town for a burger.

                                I also remember reading a blog or some food article on how good Blue Spoon's burgers are on munjoy hill. I've been there for breakfast but never for dinner. Anybody had the burger there?

                                http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2...

                                -----
                                Crooked Mile
                                8 Milk St, Portland, ME 04101

                                Blue Spoon
                                89 Congress St, Portland, ME 04101

                                Paciarino
                                468 Fore St, Portland, ME 04101

                                1. re: grittys457

                                  My wife is a virologist so, believe me, I'm very aware of what kind of nasty things lurk out there. One of my biggest food pet peeves is when the person making your sandwich is also working the cash register. But, on the other hand, sometimes you just have to let certain things go, otherwise we'd all live in a bubble. A very boring bubble. Besides, you're just as likely to get exposed to something nasty opening the door into the place (unless of course you're wearing your handy rubber glove / face mask combo pack).

                                  Think of all the nasty things you exposed yourself to as a kid. We put classroom legos in our mouth for god's sake. We crawled around on bathroom floors. We all survived. In fact, some people call that "building your immunity".

                                  I can guarantee you that there are more than 5-10 places in Portland that you can trust to be "not nasty".

                      2. re: grittys457

                        I’m having a little trouble trying not to retaliate for the hate directed at The Great Lost Bear but here goes anyway… I wouldn’t eat at Wild Willy’s with my… well actually I have had a few burgers there and they are quite good. I usually get the bison burger. If I was really trying to knock the place, first would be the fact that it’s by the mall, which is always a negative no matter how good the food turns out to be (that’s me being a mall hater). Second, it’s maybe a bit too child friendly (not a problem if you happen to have a child with you) with Muppet-like robotic characters playing music and singing while you eat – my burgers are almost always to go though the fries, which are also good, don't hold up too well in a bag - they get soggy. As for Grace, haven’t had the burger but I always recommend the bar if only because the place is just so impressive. I know, pretty poor job at retaliating - just not my nature :)

                        -----
                        The Great Lost Bear
                        540 Forest Ave, Portland, ME 04101

                      3. I'm not a local anymore, but in my recent visits I was pretty blown away by the Noshburger. They grind bacon into the patty and serve it with blue cheese, a fried egg and a carmelized onion spread. It's juicy and delicious (especially with the bacon-dusted fries). I've heard talk of their Apocalypse burger as well, which comes topped with foie gras and pork belly, but that seems kind of like overkill.