Portland Burger Week 2016: Burger is Life

We kicked off this blog last year for Portland Burger Week and chronicled the Burger Odyssey. It started off innocently enough, before turning into a full blown obsession for Kelsey and I. We blogged, we tweeted, we snapped and dined with dozens of friends and burger lovers. By midweek, we were a mess, “My body, mind and soul are completely shot. The Burger Odyssey is feeling like a long weekend in Vegas -- 4 days is the limit of safety and sanity.” 

After 7 days I had consumed 15 different burgers, plus an additional one which was not sanctioned by Burger Week. By Sunday night, I found myself parked outside of Double Barrel Tavern debating whether to get in one last fix. Yes, I had become a full blown burger addict. It wasn’t a pretty recovery. When I finally stepped foot in a grocery store, I wandered around for 40 minutes in a daze. “Anything but beef” was all I could think about before eventually walking out with all the fixings for a BLT, which seemed like a good way to wean myself from the addiction.

One would think I was sick of burgers, but no, I was merely sick of writing about burgers. For the next 51 weeks I probably ate more burgers than I ever had before. Burger Week is serious business and you have to train all year round. I had big plans for this year: 20 burgers. I was a thrown off a bit when it was announced that Burger Week 2016 was only 6 days long, I was determined to plow forward at a 4 burger a day pace. Here is how Day 1 went down.


I work in the Central Eastside industrial area so Noraneko is a no brainer to knock out first. In addition to great ramen, I’ve always been quite fond of the Biwa double burger they offer.

10:17AM - I announce to the office my intention to get the Miso Butter Burger at 11AM, right when they open. They are skeptical of my timing, but I purposely skipped breakfast and my stomach is rumbling.

11:00AM - No one is ready. Noobs, smh.

11:20AM - We’re ready! Nope, false alarm.

11:35AM - Finally we’re off. I’m with 3 rookies but they’ve got spirit and a craving for beef.

11:43AM - There is a short line, this is a good sign.

11:50AM - I order the burger and a small salad. It’s proper form to order a side or beverage with your burger, plus I think I’m gonna need all the veggies I can get this week.

12:02PM - It’s here and it looks nothing like it did in the Portland Mercury’s review, but looks can be deceiving. Picture time.

12:04PM - Wow, this a really unique taste. The frozen miso butter is mixed in with the beef and it gives it a salty, almost porky flavor. The slaw and the pickles offer a nice balance to the saltiness. 

12:12PM - It’s on the smaller side, which you will need sometimes during the Burger Week marathon. The first couple burgers are always hard to rate because you never know how it will stack up, but I tentatively give it an 8.25. A very good start.

12:35PM - I’m back at the office, chugging water but very satisfied.

All afternoon I send out a flurry of texts and Snapchat messages attempting to coordinate burger plans for the night. @kelsey_wilkins and I decide on Church Bar because it was among the favorites from 2015 and we anticipate a large crowd. Of course we can’t eat just 1, so we also pick Club 21 right down the street. I leave these reviews to Kelsey because she describes them much more eloquently than I can. Tonight also happens to be my sister’s birthday, which means family dinner. Of course I suggest a bunch of Burger Week participants and we decide on Davis St. Tavern.

8:13PM - I’m the first one here and I need water, lots of water. Stay hydrated folks.

8:25PM - Davis St. Tavern is offering The New American Burger which is a ”charbroiled Painted Hills bison/beef patty topped with crisp butter lettuce, plump summer tomatoes, pickled zucchini and cucumber, and whole-grain mustard aioli on a Portland French brioche bun”. That’s a lot of words for what’s basically a bison burger. Whatever, I have to order it.

8:50PM - Appetizers were ordered and our server drops a charcuterie board directly in front of me. I absolutely DO NOT need this. But… I can’t say no to chicken liver mousse. 

9:10PM - Dinner is here. The New American Burger is served simply in a checkered cardboard tray and looks rather underwhelming compared to my mom’s Angus Beef Burger, which comes piled with Tillamook vintage cheddar, pepper bacon and bacon-tomato jam. 

9:11PM - First bite, not bad. The burger is a perfectly cooked medium rare and the bun is toasted just right. The vegetables are crisp and fresh and really compliment the flavors of the bison/beef patty. The mustard aioli is smooth and adds a nice tanginess to each bite. 

9:20PM - There’s a familiarity to this burger. Between the toasted bun and the aioli it actually tastes like a restaurant quality version of a Burgerville burger. Davis St. went with a relatively simple concept and nailed it. It’s hard to rate but I want to give it a 9 at this point.

9:50PM - There is dessert. Why am I eating this?

10:29PM - Day 1 is complete. My belly is full, my mouth tastes like salt and I’m exhausted. I brush my teeth and roll into bed before 11 o’clock. I’ve got a big morning coming up: tomorrow we've tackle Delicious Donuts’ monstrosity known as the Grand Avenue Breakfast Burger.