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Portland’s Restaurant and Wine bar had it nailed. Great atmosphere, friendly staff, great craft beers, specialty cocktails, and a delicious hamburger with the best French fries ever made (not to mention easy access as I live in the apartments above the restaurant). Every Wednesday their $7 burger special made me a regular at the bar. After my favorite place to meet friends and grab a burger and ice cold beer closed in February, I’ve been searching for a new place to chow on a juicy burger on a regular basis.
Vig on Fillmore
I started my search with the $5 burger special every Monday at the Vig on Fillmore. The price for their Fillmore Burger (American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and secret sauce on a Kaiser roll) is $11 on any other night. It has a great outdoor atmosphere and all my friends love this place.
Their burger is respectable, if not consistent. The first time I tried it I sat at the bar and it took about 45 minutes for the burger to arrive. It was overcooked and dry. It left me wondering if anyone ever paid full price for such a tasteless overdone cold burger. On my next visit though, the burger came out timely and was quite good. Not as good as Portland’s, but juicy and tasty. Definitely worth the $5 special price on Monday.
Matt’s Big Breakfast
Next I decided to try a favorite downtown breakfast spot for a burger at lunch. Matt’s Big Breakfast serves a Big Butter Burger with hand pressed Niman Ranch ground chuck grilled in butter, topped with American cheese for $9.50. Well, they are not open in the evening and don’t serve beer but this is a stellar hamburger. It tastes like the burgers off my dad’s grill in the backyard on long summer days when I was a kid. I know it’s hard to get past the wonderful breakfast selections at this famous hole in the wall, but I highly recommend giving this burger a try the next time you’re there after 11 a.m. It’s worth the wait in line for a table.
After my co-workers were raving about the Lalo Burger at Cocina 10 at Crescent Ballroom, I knew I had to give it a try. This burger is gigantic (premium Angus beef mixed with Mama Gomez’s secret spices, Tillamook cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, sautéed onion and Anaheim pepper on a toasted artisan bun). I’m a big eater and I couldn’t finish this one in a sitting. You definitely get a lot of food for $10. It’s pretty good burger with all of the toppings I love, but somehow it fell short in flavor. My search continued.
Phoenix Public Market Cafe
I finally found the best burger deal at my next spot. The D-back special at the Phoenix Public Market Cafe can’t be beat. The AZ Burger is a pretty unassuming burger with only a few ingredients: green chiles, lettuce, cheddar and house dressing. Whoever put this burger together really gets flavor combinations and they know how to do fresh cut fries correctly, which I recommend as an add on.
It’s reasonably priced at $10 but during every home game the D-back special gets you this burger AND a draught beer for only $8. Take advantage of this special while it’s accessible, as soon as everyone figures this one out, the line will be out the door—Matt’s Big Breakfast style. This burger special is reason enough to remain a D-back fan this season. It’s a big winner even if the team isn’t.
Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails
After trying the burgers at the major hotels in Downtown, which are all good burgers but nothing outstanding, I wasn’t expecting much from the BHKC Burger at Blue Hound Kitchen and Cocktails (rouge smoke bleu cheese, fried onions, port ketchup, brioche bun). At $12, this burger is the priciest one I tried during my quest but let me tell you what…this just may be the best hamburger I’ve ever eaten. It has all of the same toppings as my favorite Portland’s “Tommy Burger” only done even better.
The rogue bleu cheese is smoked in-house, the double patty was cooked perfectly medium as ordered, and the juicy, smoky, hearty textures melded into the perfect combination of flavors sandwiched between two soft and tasty brioche buns. Worth every penny of the $12 price tag and Blue Hound’s original cocktails are absolutely outstanding. The service is impeccable and the eclectic atmosphere can’t be beat. This is the place. Everything I loved about Portland’s only done even better. Come to think of it, I need to look into those cool new apartments above the Palomar Hotel.