Ben Does Burger Week

Introduction

Since time immemorial (or around 2013) every year at the beginning of August, Portland, Oregon is blessed with the celebration of the culinary triumph that is Burger Week. In its humble first year it offered up a mere 12 burgers from participating local restaurants. Now, as we wrap up the latest week in 2019, we can look back on a surfeit of 60 different burgers served up across this beautiful city– that’s almost nine burgers a day if you were to try them all. 

Here at Murmur Creative, we appreciate all things innovative, creative, and local, so we sent out our esteemed developer and burger enthusiast Ben to sample the delights Burger Week had to offer. We don’t have reviews on all 60 – for obvious reasons – but we do have detailed reviews on seven burgers, which is equivalent to one a day during burger week and totally achievable. The dedicated developers who investigate these delicious sandwiches are known as the Special Burgers Unit. These are their stories.

1. Daybreak Express

Location: Tilt

As usual, Tilt built a delicious, massive meal of a burger. The bun is soft and just moist enough to be chewy and beautiful; the bacon is a thick slab of pork candy in that sweet spot between crispy and soft. It’s dripping with a tangy sauce that perfectly complements the slightly sweet savoriness of both meats (and I mean literally dripping with my first bite I dumped a bunch on my shirt and pants). Marginal points against it are the onions which didn’t add much (but I don’t like caramelized onions), and the espresso rub which I wanted to taste but couldn’t. I also would have loved a slightly runny-er egg, but this burger is enough of a mess as-is so they were probably doing me a solid.

Ratings (Out of 5)

Taste: 🍔🍔🍔🍔🍔

Uniqueness: 🍔🍔🍔🍔

Je ne sais quoi: 🍔🍔🍔🍔

2. Elote Burger

Location: Noraneko

Of the many Food Week items I’ve tried over the years claiming some elote heritage, this one came the closest. Tasty, just-perfect corn kernels, mayo, chili seasoning, and a hint of lime. 👨‍🍳👌 The patty itself was nothing to write home about, although its size relative to the petite bun gave the half-eaten burger a bit of a UFO vibe. I certainly enjoyed eating something with “elote” in the name that actually tasted kind of like elote, but the patty let this burger down.

Ratings (Out of 5)

Taste: 🍔🍔🍔

Uniqueness: 🍔🍔🍔🍔

Je ne sais quoi: 🍔🍔🍔

3. Hasselhoff’s Revenge

Location: Home, A Bar

Home, A Bar has turned out some of my favorite Burger Week burgers (2017’s Picnic Burger remains a favorite years later) and Hasselhoff’s Revenge continues that legacy. Although closer in size to a slider than a true burger, it doubles up on meat and still fills you up. Many Burger Week efforts throw in a ton of exciting ideas without much analysis, and their burgers end up tasting one-note or haphazard—not the Hasselhoff’s Revenge. Every part of this thing is perfectly balanced. My only complaint is that I didn’t get two of them.

Hot Tip: Get the fries while you’re there.

Ratings (Out of 5)

Taste: 🍔🍔🍔🍔🍔

Uniqueness: 🍔🍔🍔🍔

Je ne sais quoi: 🍔🍔🍔🍔🍔

4. Rad Walla

Location: Lay Low Tavern

Lay Low had one of my favorite burgers last year, and this year was no different. The Rad Walla is juicy, perfectly cooked, and deliciously flavored. The sauce adds a great bite and perfectly complements the slightly-sweet savoriness of the meat and sweet onion crunch. This burger was a big greasy mess which some might count against it – but not I. The Rad Walla doesn’t push any envelopes or try anything off the wall, but it executes on what it decides to do perfectly.

Ratings (Out of 5)

Taste: 🍔🍔🍔🍔🍔

Uniqueness: 🍔🍔🍔

Je ne sais quoi: 🍔🍔🍔🍔

5. Tha Big Ugly

Location: Yur’s Bar and Grill

My hype for this burger was high. A small twist on the classic burger form? My jam. Unfortunately I came in during the dinner hour, and this burger was feeling the rush. The patty tasted like it had good flavor but it had been a little too charred, taking it from deliciously carmelized to slightly burnt. The peanut butter was heavy, and at least on mine there wasn’t enough sriracha heat to balance it out. Mixing the peanut butter with something to make it more of a sauce would have been amazing.

I really wanted to like this burger, and I think if I’d come in at a different time when they weren’t so slammed I would have. Unfortunately sometimes in life you have to make do with the burger you have, not the burger you wish you had.

Ratings (Out of 5)

Taste: 🍔🍔

Uniqueness: 🍔🍔🍔

Je ne sais quoi: 🍔🍔🍔🍔

6. Red Pepper Harissa Burger

Location: Ya Hala

Plenty of Burger Week burgers every year neglect the patty in favor of piling on fried baloney, kielbasa, or half a pound of shoestring fries. Not so at Ya Hala! The meat was flavorful, delicious, and perfectly cooked (although some might like it more rare, it was mercifully not well-done). A combination of red pepper hummus, mayo, and some kind of cheese combination to make a delicious, creamy sauce that compliments the well-seasoned meat. Carmelized onions are not one of my favorite foods, due at least partly to the fact that they are almost impossible to present in a form that looks appetizing, but here I barely tasted them despite a large pile on the burger, so your mileage may vary.

To accompany my burger, I also got an order of fries with pomegranate molasses BBQ sauce that manages to taste both traditional and non-traditional at the same time. It’s got a bit of fruity sweetness with a spicier kick than I anticipated.

Ratings (Out of 5)

Taste: 🍔🍔🍔🍔

Uniqueness: 🍔🍔🍔🍔🍔

Je ne sais quoi: 🍔🍔🍔🍔

7. Dork Burger

Location: Stoopid Burger

I’m not generally a fan of pulled pork, but on this burger it provided a great counterpoint to the patty, adding some smokey flavor and a nice texture balance. The fried pickles were good, but felt like they lost a lot of the…pickle…during the frying process. Overall a good burger served quickly for Burger Week, but nothing about it really blew me away. A bit more sauce probably would have bumped up my opinion of it, and a friend suggested getting some eggs or fried jalapenos on it, which I now kind of regret not doing.

Anyone who can make pulled pork I enjoy eating deserves another visit, though.

Ratings (Out of 5)

Taste: 🍔🍔🍔🍔

Uniqueness: 🍔🍔🍔

Je ne sais quoi: 🍔🍔

In Conclusion

Wow, that was some tasty feedback! Looks like of all the seven burgers one stood out amongst the rest with an almost perfect score of 14/15 (drumroll please) the almighty “Hasslehoffs Revenge” lived up to the hype and satisfied in flavor. So, well done Home – you did it – you crafted a tasty assortment of ingredients!

Thanks for checking out our reviews and let us know what Portland Week you would like Ben to review next. And if you want more from Ben, he has his own blog dedicated to food he ate cleverly titled “Food I ate” and you can follow his dining journeys .