Reader Survey 2012: Best Burger in Portland

Little Big Burger

Little Big Burger

Best Burger is always one of the more contentious awards. Almost everyone likes good hamburgers, but many people base their favorites on “what mom used to make”. Some people like all the accompaniments, others the bare minimum. With that in mind, I’ve listed to top 15.

The spread is pretty close, with the exception of Little Big Burger, which came out of nowhere to trounce the competition. In these days of $10-$20 hamburgers that doesn’t surprise me – a cheeseburger at LBB is $3.75. I have to wonder what happened with Foster Burger. It started with great ambition and a staff of well-known owners, but has never grown. LBB is spreading like wildfire.
Since price does seem to rule this year, I did my best to track down the cost of a standard cheeseburger at each restaurant. It is included in the listing.
960 votes cast:

1. Little Big Burger - 9.1%.  $3.75

  • 122 NW 10th Ave, Portland 97209 Map (503) 274-9008
  • 3747 N. Mississippi Ave, Portland 97227  Map (503) 265-8781
  • 3810 SE Division St., Portland 97202  Map (503) 841-6456

2. Foster Burger – 5.8%.  $6.50. 5339 SE Foster Road Portland, OR 97206. Map (503) 775-2077

3. Cafe Castagna – 5.8%.  $14. 1752 Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard Portland, OR 97214  Map (503) 231-9959

4. Killer Burger – 5%.  $6*

  • 4644 NE Sandy, Portland OR. 97213 Map  (971) 544-7521
  • 8728 SE 17th, Portland OR. 97202 Map  (503) 841-5906

5. Grüner - 4%.  $12. 527 Southwest 12th Avenue Portland, OR 97205 Map  (503) 241-7163  My review

6. Toro Bravo – 3.54%. $11 (with bacon)  120 NE Russell St, Portland, OR 97209 Map  (503) 281.4464  My review

7. Le Pigeon -3.54%.  $12.  738 E Burnside St. Portland, OR 97214 Map (503) 546-8796** My review *The burger is only available at the bar, and only a few are served each night. Try Little Bird – below, where the same burger is served all hours.

8. Little Bird – 3.1%.  $12.  219 SW 6th Ave. Portland, OR 97204 Map (503) 688-5952**

9. Slow Bar – 3.1%.  $9.75.  533 Southeast Grand Avenue Portland, OR 97214. Map (503) 230-7767

10. Yakuza - 2.91%.  $12.  5411 Northeast 30th Avenue Portland, OR 97211  Map (503) 450-0893

11. Tasty N Sons – 2.7%.  $11.  3808 North Williams Avenue Portland, OR 97212 Map  (503) 621-1400   My review

12. Higgin’s Bar – 2.7%.  $12.  1239 Southwest Broadway Portland, OR 97205  Map (503) 222-9070  My review

13. Biwa - 2.5%.  $8  215 Southeast 9th Avenue Portland, OR 97214 Map  (503) 239-8830  (late night only)  My review

14. Grain & Gristle – 2.5%.  $10.  1473 Northeast Prescott Street Portland, OR 97211 Map  (503) 298-5007

15. Pause – 2.3%. $8*  5101 North Interstate Ave., Portland 97217 Map  (971) 230-0705

*Starred prices are a guess based on various info found on the web. **Le Pigeon and Little Bird have essentially the same burger (same owner), but the restaurants are entirely different, hence the separate rating.

My current favorite is Cafe Castagna. I like Little Big Burger as the best “fast food” burger around, though I have noticed a definite slip in quality over the past 4-5 months. Consistency is becoming an issue as they expand.

You can see all the Reader Choice 2012 survey winners here.


View Reader Survey 2012: Best Burger in Portland! in a larger map

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. mike says

    Shouldn’t the numbers for Le Pigeon and Little Bird be combined? I thought it was the same burger, but perhaps not.

    Foster Burger suffers from one major problem: location, location, location. Complete pain in in the a-s to get to from most places in the city. And that’s saying a lot for a small town like Portland.

    • says

      Mike – you are right about Foster Burger. I’d forgotten how much of a pain it is to get there. As far as Pigeon/Bird goes, I gave that some thought, but though the burger is the same, they are two different restaurants. If I combined them, people would call me on it; a can’t win situation. Now that you bring it up though, I think I will add a little note.

  2. Pascal says

    I tell you what… I had a burger at Southpark a few days ago that was just fantastic! Great meat, cooked perfectly, nice accompaniments, just great. Certainly beats a few of those top 15!

  3. says

    Between this set of rankings and the relatively recent Big O survey, I begin to think there ought to be two lists, one for casual/fast food burgers (LBB, Joe’s, Mike’s, Giant, etc.), and one for full service burgers (most of this list other than LBB).

    I tried LBB twice and was underwhelmed; at best, I’d count it a touch better than the Joe’s Burgers kiosk at Bridgeport, and I was more impressed, recently, by the burgers at Dickie Joe’s in Tualatin (satellite of a Eugene-based micro-chain, similar in concept to Five Guys with a dash of Skyline).

    Also worth noting: the full service Joe’s Burgers & Bar between Raleigh Hills and Hillsdale (in the former JoPa’s building) serves a range of deluxe burgers larger (and, IMO, tastier) than the ones at their other locations. Those are worth a look in someone’s next serious survey.

  4. Live To Eat says

    Pretty nice list, except for the top 2. If you want a cheap burger go to one of the better places for their Happy Hour burger. I don’t usually order burgers, but the current go-to for the burger lovers in my family is Grain and Gristle. My most memorable burger this year was at Noble Rot, for Happy Hour. Hmm… I’ve been wanting to try that one again. I think I’ll take one of my burger aficiondos with me tonight and get his rating :)

  5. Aestro says

    Since it’s the same burger, I don’t think combining them would be any more or less fair than the multi-locations of other restaurants. Little Big Burger is a much more pleasant experience in the Pearl than on Division. I still think their fries far outweigh the burger, but it’s a tasty little burger.

  6. PtH says

    Agree. Bar Bar is good and cheap. Though I also agree that there should be categories… something like Best cheap burger or diner burger, and high end burger. LBB would get lost between because they’re straight up fast food where the quality is superb. But other than them, I think the lines are clear. Bar Bar on one awesome end, Castagna on the other.
    Oh, and I second whoever’s vote for Gruner. By an exceeding margin, the best burger I’ve ever had in Portland if not ever. Though variables about the topic in general keep my opinion as varied as the burger choices in our fair city.

  7. kristine says

    incredible that bamboo’s waygu burger did not make the list. easily one of the, if not the single, best hamburger in the city. impeccable and delicious! it may front as a sushi restaurant, but this place knows how to make a tasty burger. expand your horizons, peeps!!!

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