Hey... Portland. I bet the view is nice this time of year, with your $5 burgers, great beer and weather you've been patiently waiting for. Me? I'm working in San Francisco for three weeks. One of those just so happens to be Portland's #BurgerWeek. As a Portland homer, and founding contributor to IHTB this was a big blow, but it would have blown "biggerer" had I passed up the opportunity to eat my preferred cuisine from allover a well respected food metropolitan.
My burger journey starts with a work lunch, gets good in Lil' Russia, and is the perfect appetizer before a screening of Suicide Squad. In fact Suicide Squad is a great analogy for my 3 SF burgers so far. There are some great characters, excellent moments, but overall you're left feeling a little flat and wishing for more depth.
Gott's - I had the Western Bacon Blue Ring, consisting of a beer-battered onion ring, Point Reyes crumbled blue cheese, bacon, pickles, red onion & BBQ sauce on a toasted egg bun. They should have called this place NOTT's, because I was NOT feeling this burger. The Onion rings I ordered on the side were the star of the meal, the batter consistency was smooth and delicious. The burger wasn't terrible, but it almost wasn't worth even mentioning. It's worth noting I could have been a victim of circumstance. We had a large order that had to be delivered to us. All the travel time meant the sauce had soaked through the bun, the meat wasn't even luke warm and the burger overall just seemed hastily thrown together. I might try this place again, but only if I find time to order and eat at the restaurant. If you're near Gott's at the Ferry Building I recommend skipping it and going for the Prather Ranch burger. I wrote about in March last time I was in SF. Check it out:
Bill's Place - Wow! These are the moments I live for. I stumbled upon Bill's Place after a grueling 10+ mile walk/hike around San Francisco. I saw curvy streets, pyramid buildings, people longingly looking at an old prison wishing they could be there, bridges made of gold, a nude beach and a another beach that had no surfers, but a lot of people practicing surf moves. Bill's Place started in 1959 and is currently owned by a kid that started working there in 1969. It's a time machine. You walk in and immediately to your left is a malted shake area, a soda fountain and long bar for patrons to hang out, eat and chat with the workers/chefs. The waiter greeted me and I was told I could have my pick of the place. Their patio looked acceptable as I peered down the large open floor towards the back, but there was nobody in the main room so I decided to take the front window table. Maybe my presence would drum up some more business for them? By the time I left 5 more had shown up. I think I deserve a free meal or something.
The menu kept up the throwback diner experience offering "Celebrity Burgers." Each one representing a local or respected celebrity. Sure you can get the David Letterman, but I think my favorite was the Carol Doda which was made in honor of her introducing topless dancing to the city. It's served with with two patties, each on a bun, separated on the plate, served open faced and topped off with an olive. Get the picture? In the end I only had eyes for one. The Famous Bill's 50th Anniversary Burger: 21 oz of meat, 3 types of cheese, 4 pieces of bacon, and all the fixins. On the side you had Onion rings, curly fries, and hand cut fries. It was too damn much burger, but hell if it didn't have some fantastic components. The bacon was the best bacon I've ever had on a burger. The quality was great and the cook perfect. The tragic part of my meal was the actual burger. The meat had great flavor which must be tied to their freshness factor. Apparently they get their meat dropped off daily and grind on the premises. They do this with their potatoes too. Unfortunately, I was asked how I'd like my meat it didn't come out as requested (medium rare). There was no pink in my burger, and though still packing some juice it ended up being a bit too dry. I imagine they had to keep these massive burgers on for a bit longer. It was solid enough I'd actually go back and try many of their other burgers, and if anything just take in the vintage atmosphere.
Super Duper Burger - It's Little Big Burger meets Chipotle. They're everywhere. I'm talking Starbucks everywhere. It's not unusual to eat at one, walk a block or two and run into another one. I tell you what though, they're doing something right. The burger was really good, and they know how to use their jalapenos (seed in). I went very classic on my burger: jalapenos, bacon, cheese, meat and bread. They offer some decent add-ons allowing you to create a burger of your liking without it ever feeling daunting. The meat was close to medium, which is what I requested. They did a nice job with it. Save for the methed out dude in Air Max Uptempos that approached my group this was an unexpected treat from a fast casual joint. My bar was really low for it and so far it's the burger to beat.
On to the next one...