Last year a group of Portland food bloggers and I collaborated on Thai-o-rama, an effort to eat at and review every single Thai restaurant in the city, from Siam Orchid in the One City Center food court through to the ever popular Boda in Longfellow Square. We had so much fun in 2010 that we’re continuing the project into 2011.
We’re starting off the new year with that emblem of American fast food, the hamburger, and for round 1 the group focused in on the burgers to be found at diners and sandwich shops in and around Portland. (We’ll go for the gourmet burgers, pub burgers, beef alternative burgers, etc in later months.)
You can learn as much from where our band of bloggers went (or tried to) for the burgers as from the reviews themselves. The former gives a clear indication of what eateries they thought would have a good burger and the later letting you know the accuracy of their aim.
Appetite Portland initially tried to go to Marcy’s (closed for Winter break) and ended up at the Miss Portland Diner. Soooo . . You Really Like Cats was shut out at Marcy’s and Hot Suppa but landed at Becky’s. The Blueberry Files took a direct path to Becky’s. Where is Jenner’s Mind couldn’t make it to Kathy & Dave’s or Steve & Renee’s and opted for Hot Suppa. The Miss Portland Diner was From Away’s first choice and Edible Obsessions left town entirely to visit Harmon’s Lunch in Falmouth.
Clearly from the reviews below some choices ended up being (a lot) better than others.
Appetite Portland – Miss Portland Diner
Go to Miss Portland – get that haddock reuben, the chicken pie, a hot turkey dinner – or whatever is on special. If you need a hunk of beef, I can highly recommend the meatloaf. Just don’t bother with the burgers… read the full review
Edible Obsessions – Harmon’s Lunch
I’ve only ordered a burger one way from them: Loaded. Diced, perfectly caramelized onions, mystery red relish, mustard, meat and plain hamburger bun. Simple enough and insanely inexpensive to boot. But, let’s dote a little more on the burger, shall we? All of the components make this easily one of the best balanced burgers I’ve had because Sweet+Savory+Acidic=Satisfying. You would think that the burger, a quite respectable patty–cooked medium–all on it’s own, would be lost somewhere under all of the toppings, but it’s not…read the full review
From Away – Miss Portland Diner
The Miss Portland Diner deserves a visit. The antique dining car has been wonderfully preserved, the service is fast and friendly, and there are menu options that I thought existed on Maine menus only in my memory (Ham salad on rye? Liver and onions? Pot roast dinner?). Jillian’s patty melt was delicious, and a perfect place for anyone who hasn’t stepped outside of their normal hamburger configuration to get on the train to patty melt town. You’ll have a hard time finding a better version of this classic diner sandwich. The burger, unfortunately, with its sad, parched appearance and dusty, grainy grind, doesn’t show a lot of thoughtfulness or appreciation of the genre, and isn’t going to make anyone a fan of the place…read the full review
Soooo . . You Really Like Cats, Don’t You – Becky’s
But even through the seemingly endless rambling about how the soft bun couldn’t handle the 3 inches of ingredients in between, I was still happy with this burger. Certainly not wowed by any stretch of the imagination, but it still quite satisfied. A traditional, American-cheesed, 1/3-pounder hamburger with all the fixings you’d see at any barbecue. It’ll be interesting to see what I think of it 11 burgers down the line (assuming that I make it that far!). The $6.75 (plus tax and tip) sticker price makes me wince a little bit because it was so much on the traditional side, but by the time I left the diner, I was feeling fat and sassy. That’ll do for now…read the full review
The Blueberry Files – Becky’s
While I have ranted against the hype surrounding Becky’s brunch, I was impressed by their lunch effort. This place didn’t make my go-to burger spot, but with the good prices and the great club sandwich, I’d recommend it for a cheap, classic lunch…read the full review
Where is Jenner’s Mind – Hot Suppa!
simply put, the burger tasted great. this is not a fancy or gourmet burger, in fact its made with american cheese. but if you are looking for a really tasty burger, you are not gonna go wrong with this burger. all you got to do is find someone to split the burger and the cubano with you and you got yourself a fantastic date…read the full review
Is there a diner or sandwich shop in Portland who’s burger you think is especially stellar? If so, post a comment and tell us where to find it and what you like about it.