Burger Quest

Little Big Burger

The Quest for the Best Burger in Portland – Part 4


Have I forgotten about my Quest for the Best Burger in Portland? No, I haven’t. Like any good quest, there are highs and lows. I took a break from trying some new places simply because we weren’t eating out as much and we were getting used to going to the same places when we craved it.

The Quest began with the Slow Bar–an amazing burger with a crispy onion ring on it. Laurelhurst was a trendy, awesome summer place to get a burger. Toast was quaint, different kind of burger with really great flavor. Foster Burger is a messy, fulfilling burger that is often our “go-to” joint. Gruner? I think it’s getting knocked off the list.

Burger Quest Ranking:

1. Slow Bar

2. Laurelhurst

3. Toast

4. Gruner

5. Foster Burger

We’ve had some burgers lately that were pretty good. East Burn had a deliciously messy burger. Nob Hill Bar and Grill was decent but didn’t make the cut. So which place knocked Gruner off the list? Little Big Burger.

It was a rainy, cold, dreary Sunday afternoon and I’d gotten home from the pool with a craving for anything that wasn’t in our fridge. Nothing sounded appealing so when Michael suggested we got o Little Big Burger, I agreed. I’d never been to LBB before, but I’d seen it in the Pearl District downtown and it seemed really popular. They opened a new restaurant on SE Division so we went to check it out.

It was a cute little place and it had a Five Guys feel to it–the kitchen was out in the open and you could watch your meal being prepared. I also like how simple the menu was. 6 items. Simple. Satisfying.

The other cool thing–they are tiny burgers! They are about the size of a slider on a brioche bun. I loved how small they were. They were definitely my size–big enough to be satisfying but not as big as a regular burger that could potentially be over 1,000 calories.

Michael and I split one order fries. The fries and the slider were the perfect amount of food. I enjoyed everything about the burger and the fries were crispy and cooked in Truffle oil. Yum! So, sorry Gruner. Little Big Burger is taking over.

New Burger Quest Ranking:

1. Slow Bar

2. Laurelhurst

3. Toast

4. Foster Burger

5. Little Big Burger

If you ever visit Portland, I recommend trying one of the above restaurants–even if you’re not craving a cheeseburger and fries. Since lunch was fulfilling, we were good and had a lighter dinner that night–from the fridge too.

QUESTION: What’s your go-to food when you’re not really feeling cooking at home?

Tasty n’ Sons

For a few years now, I’ve had a bucket list of Portland restaurants I’ve wanted to try. Some are out of my budget. Some are just impossible to get into–like Tasty n’ Sons. Michael and I have tried to go to this restaurant multiple times now and the wait was always too long. The “thing” to do in restaurant management here in Portland seems to be to have very small dining areas and accept NO reservations so that there’s always a line, thus creating demand and buzz. I find this pretentious and I’m rarely willing to wait over an hour for a seat to eat a meal.

Tasty n' Sons

Thursday night Michael’s father was visiting from Texas and the plan was to go to Meriwether’s–a tried and true favorite. The traffic was atrocious and we missed our reservation time trying to get from the airport to NW. I said screw it, let’s find anything. It was by change and luck that Tasty n’ Sons did NOT have a wait out the door!

Tasty n' Sons

Michael and his dad were parking the car and I dashed into the restaurant to get us on the list. Miraculously there were tables free! The server was reluctant to seat me since my “party” wasn’t with me (apparently they won’t seat people there unless everyone has arrived). I guaranteed they were right behind me (do I need to offer my first born son, too??) and she let me squat at a table til they arrived. I munched on the oddly salty and sweet roasted peanuts that were at the table. They were delicious.

Michael ordered us the dates wrapped in bacon and smothered with maple syrup. At first I scoffed at the appetizer because I’ve never had dates before and it honestly sounded like a train wreck of sweetness and crunch. But I trust Michael’s palette and knew he’d never order something that was grotesquely sweet. Three tiny dates arrived on a small plate like lumps of coal. I was still apprehensive but decided to give it a try.

Tasty n' Sons

The dates were wrapped in bacon and there was an almond wrapped inside of it. I took a bite and it was…squishy…The flavor was mild but the texture was what I cringed at until Michael instructed me to eat the whole thing in one bite. Much better decision. I popped the remainder in my mouth and it was an explosion of breakfast in my mouth. The combination of flavors of fruit, maple syrup, almonds and bacon tasted exactly like a waffle–or french toast. It was marvelous. In one bite I got to experience my favorite carby-breakfast treats. There’s no way I could ever eat more than one, maybe two, of these little suckers but it was enjoyable.

Tasty n' Sons

The next appetizer arrived on a mound of thin french fries: the “Pretty Damn Good Chicken Strips” and these were gosh darn golly gee pretty darn good. They weren’t drenched in grease like chicken strips tend to be and the garlic/ranch/aioli dipping sauce was addicting.

My entree was the polenta with peppers and sausage. The polenta tasted just like the cheesy grits I had in Texas. Cheesy grits and polenta need to be in every meal. 🙂 I loved the polenta! The sausage was really spicy with a hint of fennel.

Tasty n' Sons

I had a glass of wine that was a Sangiovese and Cabernet blend.  It was the kind of full-bodied red you want to sip slowly while you cut into a juicy steak smothered in onions and a bernaise sauce. Even though the wine was bold, it wasn’t overpowering like a lot of cabernet blends can be. I wouldn’t order this wine with something delicate like fish but it complimented my sausage and polenta entree nicely.

Tasty n' Sons

Michael got the “The Tasty Burger”–bacon and smoked bleu cheese with sweet pickles on it. I had one bite and enjoyed every smokey burst of flavor in it. Michael wasn’t blown away by the burger, though. He felt like it wasn’t as juicy as some of the other amazing burgers we’ve tried in our Quest.

I’d rate this restaurant at a solid A-. The service was awesome, despite the weirdness about getting a table, and the food was delicious. I’m a tad disappointed Michael didn’t think their burger was outstanding, so it’s not going on our Burger Quest list at this time.

QUESTION: Are restaurants difficult to get into in your town? How long are you willing to wait for a table?