Cupcake Jones

The Quest for the Best Burger in Portland – Part 1

The Quest for the Best Burger in Portland – Part 1

For a week now Michael has been trying to convince me to go to a restaurant he calls “Hans Gruber” — Gruner in downtown Portland. I wasn’t craving burgers until Tuesday after a great workout. I suggested we give it a try and continue our quest for the best burger in Portland.

We went downtown and met up with one of Michael’s friends, Traver, for dinner. Michael got a glass of the Upright Engelberg Pilsener (OR) beer.

And I got a glass of the GrΓΌner Veltliner (Stadt Krems, Kamptal, AT 2009) –white wine. It was a crisp, tangy wine that wasn’t too sweet and went perfectly with the hot summer weather. We were sitting outside in the sun and it was a gorgeous Portland day–80+ degrees!

The three of us split an appetizer: fried smashed yellow finn potatoes, special sauce (um, Ranch dressing, not really “Special Sauce” but still good in my book!).

They were salty and good, and there weren’t enough for three people! I ate two. The burgers arrived. We all ordered the same thing: hambΓΌrger with smoky bacon on a potato bun with fontina cheese, b&b pickles, pickled red onions, aΓ―oli, arugula & house-made ketchup:

The burger was good. NOT the best burger in Portland but tasty. The bun was the best part of the burger, hands down. The burger didn’t need the bacon, it got kind of lost in the other flavors. The cheese was mild, the homemade ketchup had the consistency of tomato paste and I tasted curry.

The burger itself was good–meaty tasting–but not incredibly flavorful otherwise (spice wise). It was good but very greasy and messy to eat.

It was so nice being able to sit outside and enjoy dinner in the sun! They brought our bill in a book completely in German, which I thought was a cool touch.

After dinner we decided to go for a walk through the Pearl District and find some dessert. It was a really nice stroll after a heavy dinner. It was the perfect night for a walk.

We ended up at Cupcake Jones. I was tempted by all the amazing looking cupcakes! I was good though.

We each got one mini cupcake. Michael got the chocolate, Traver got a white chocolate with cranberry and I got the Pumpkin Spice.

It was so good! The mini cupcake was the perfect amount. I particularly liked the tiny sugar cookie on top of my cupcake too. πŸ˜‰

We continued walking deeper into the Pearl District and ended up at Jamison Park. I’d never seen the fountains there in the park, so it was a nice treat!

There were tons of kids playing in the fountain. It would be a nice place to relax and read in the summertime!

Bottom line on The Quest: Still have not discovered the BEST burger in Portland. So far I think the ranking is as follows: 1) Slow Bar, 2) Foster Burger, 3) Gruner, 4) Five Guys.

QUESTION: Do you ever walk around your city like a tourist?

Eating Out Landmines

Last night marked Eating Out #1 for this week. Michael and I met his dad and step-mom at Henry’s 12th Street Tavern for dinner.

Michael’s dad is a Beer Expert (seriously, that’s his job). He recommended I try the Bridgeport IPA, so that’s what I ordered. It was a nice, light IPA and I liked it a lot.

Bridgeport IPA

Landmine #1: Appetizers

Michael’s dad ordered Henry’s famous onion rings as the appetizer. Check this temptation out:

I was famished and the onion rings ARE pretty tasty….I ate two only. And I made sure that I ate two from the top because they were smaller!

Could you resist those?

Landmine #2 – Entree

The next dilemma was what to order as an entree. After weighing the pros and cons of the two entrees I wanted, I decided on the Halibut. It was a sea salt and pepper crusted halibut with a balsamic vinaigrette glaze.

It came with an arugula and tomato salad and a fried potato cake. The potato cake was exceptional. For some reason in my brain I thought the potato cake would be less calories than their amazing mashed potatoes…Not sure now. πŸ™‚

My entree was okay. I think I’ve discovered that halibut is not my favorite fish. It’s a bit on the dry side. I’d rather eat a trout or salmon. I ate half of my halibut and saved the other half for lunch.

We chatted about Reach the Beach and I told them about Hood to Coast coming up. Michael’s dad said “God gave me a certain number of heart beats in my lifetime and I’m not going to waste them running!” He said it was a quote from an astronaut and it made me chuckle. πŸ™‚

Landmine #3 – Dessert

After dinner at Henry’s we all walked a few blocks in the Pearl District to Cupcake Jones. I’ve walked by Cupcake Jones a million times and never gone in. Last night I finally did.

There were many choices: chocolate, vanilla, marionberry cobbler, German chocolate cake and other options for cupcakes. There were also the large cupcakes or the mini cupcakes. Michael’s dad got the German chocolate:

There was also an option for a “Frosting Shot”? Seriously! A cup of just the frosting!!! I was floored.

Dessert is always the hard part for me. I have zero willpower when faced with something like this:

At first I was going to get the 1 bite mini cupcake but Michael talked me into splitting a big sized cupcake with him. We got the chocolate.

It was gooooood. I loved the frosting. I think it was a cream cheese frosting.

We left Cupcake Jones and strolled passed the Ben and Jerry’s (Michael wanted to stop for ice cream but I held strong :)).

We took them to Powell’s City of Books and then called it a night. It was a really nice evening and I enjoy spending time with Michael’s family. The weather was perfect too.


I have no idea if I was smart with my food last night. I feel like I made some good choices and a few bad choices (2 beers + a cupcake!).