Burgers! Beyond the hot dog, the burger is true American cuisine. Some enjoy the fast food type, while others hit up Michelin star restaurants for dry aged beef burgers for $30. Here in Portland, we’re graced with a number of food carts who do amazing burgers, some even eclipsing the artisan burgers found at some of the restaurants around town. I’ve had many if not all of the burgers from the carts. I know, tough job. I love burgers. Here’s a list of where you can find some of the best burgers in town at food carts.
The Must Trys:
Burgatroyd – opened in 2011, this diamond plate cart at SW 2nd and Oak knocked it out of the park with their burgers. The original idea was build your own with a plethora of options, yet I think eaters more want to be told what to eat. The burger starts with a Fleur de Lis bun and burger from Highland Oaks Farm and then start adding items like calabrian chili aioli, deep fried jalapenos, sauteed mushroom, bacon, caramelized onions sauteed in butter and more. Truly a great burger.
Sideshow – A cart that started with only Belgian Fries and poutine now offers The Fancy Burger. 1/3lb Cascade Natural grass fed Kobe beef cooked with duck fat, a brioche bun, white cheddar and gruyere, arugula and white truffle mayo. SERIOUSLY! Can you get any more fancy than kobe beef or white truffle mayo? This is one over the top burger with dynamic flavors that make you pause and wonder why mom never picked up Kobe beef for burgers. And get this, the burger is only $9. SW 9th and Washington
Miss Kate’s Southern Kitchen – Mississippi Marketplace welcomed Miss Kate’s over a year ago and the neighborhood has been loving their southern cuisine ever since. The Old Fashioned Cheeseburger is what you should order. Served on buttered Texas Toast, the 1/2 lb burger topped with cheese, creole aioli sauce, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce and onions, this may be the burger you use a fork and knife with. I usually just pick it up, cradle it lovingly and dive in, only pausing to wipe cheese and aioli from the corner of my mouth. Enjoy it with a good German lager. N Mississippi and Skidmore
Euro Trash – A cart that started off serving calamari and chicken sandwiches has morphed their menu to include The Big Burger which you can add beer battered softshell crab. Yep, the Crabby Patty. The burger in and of itself is a work of art. With a pub bun from An Xuyen Bakery, Charles Thomas adds arugula, fresh cut onion and his signature Trashy sauce. Add in the perfectly deep fried softshell crab and some melted cheese and you have one unique and tasty burger. The crab is a seasonal item, so get it when you can. If you’re adventurous, try the burger with foie gras, Euro Trash has it. SW 10th and Washington
Over the Top:
The Grilled Cheese Grill – The welcome sign at The Grilled Cheese Grill states “Come by for a taste of your childhood. Unless your childhood sucked and then we’ll let ya have a taste of ours.” They have a school bus so you can get out of the rain and enjoy your sandwich. Beyond the grilled cheeses, they offer The Cheesus, a 1/3 lb burger topped with onion, lettuce, colby jack, ketchup, mustard and more put between their signature grilled cheese sandwiches. Served with chips. A behemoth of a burger. NE 11th and Albeta, SE 28th and Ankeny and SW 10th and Washington
Brunch Box – I think of Brunchbox as one of the first of the new breed of vendors to offer burgers in downtown. There were few options back in 2009 for burgers at the carts and Brunchbox nailed it. With a menu ranging from a simple burger to one with blue cheese or mushrooms or pineapple, there is something for everyone. If you’re hungry, you can opt for the YouCanHasCheeseburger, a burger with all the fixin’s sandwiched between two grilled cheese sandwiches made with Texas Toast. Seriously, a true monster of a burger. SW 5th and Stark
While many vendors do offer a vegetarian option, these vendors go beyond the standard gardenburger.
DC Vegetarian – One of Portland’s best vegetarian carts, the Bacon Cheeseburger here will make you rethink meat. A cart made veggie burger with all the toppings with veggie bacon, I added avocado and vegan Daiya cheese. As a meat eater, I gotta say this is a great option if you want to get away from the beef. SW 3rd and Stark
Che Cafe – Not a vegetarian only vendor, this cart does make sure every dish they serve is well made. The Sadie Black Bean Burger is cart made from scratch and comes with your choice of toppings and cheese and aioli served on grilled onion bun. I love black beans, so putting them together in a burger with some fresh veggies is to die for. Located in North Portland at the Kruger Farm stand, you can enjoy either a meat burger or a veggie burger with a beer from Captured by Porches. N Lombard and Burr
The Burger Carts:
The Burger Guild – A stuffed burger. Think of all the goodies wrapped in ground beef and turned into a burger. That first bite – gooey blue cheese with fresh red peppers makes its showing. At this cart you can get almost anything stuffed in the burger and then flame grilled. The Kalamata Mama, one of my favorites comes with Kalamata olives, Feta, fresh red peppers and fresh garlic inside the burger. SE 50th and Division
The Angry Unicorn – Portland, built atop an ancient Unicorn graveyard! At the Angry Unicorn they mix Unicorn meat (bacon) with ground beef to create a pretty darn excellent tasting burger. Their traditional Unicorn Burger is served on a Voodoo donut with all the fixin’s. SE 52nd and Foster
Rockin’ Robyn’s Sassy Burger – The Pub Bun from Portland French Bakery makes the Sassy Burger special. Get one with lettuce, tomato, onion, pepper jack and maybe a fried egg and you’ll be in heaven. At the Rose City Food Park, it is the only burger cart in the area. Bonus points for sourcing their beef locally from a true butcher shop – The Original Steer Market. NE 52nd and Sandy
Home Plate Sliders – Sliders are awesome. Small little burgers so you can enjoy more than one! At Home Plate, with their baseball themed truck and menu, you can enjoy a simple slider or maybe a Yankee with grilled pastrami or a Philly with peppers and onions. Home Plate Sliders roams around to different locations during the week or comes to your favorite event.
Bro-Dogs and Burgers – Scott Smith, a veteran of the banking industry launched a simple cart a few years ago to serve gourmet sausage sandwiches. That led to an amazing following and growth to a food truck and the addition of burgers. The Dirty Burger is a handmade beef patty with bacon and cheddar, tomatoes, onions, and their signature ‘dirty’ sauce. Kinda of a messy little mess, but well worth it. Bro-Dogs and Burgers roams, so follow them on Facebook for their next location.
Kindle Kart – Known for their pizza, the Kindle Kart up in NW Portland also offers burgers. Owner and chef Kevin bakes his own brioche buns in the wood fire oven. The burger, double ground brisket with a bit of seasoning added, is pretty darn taste. I chose the Jalapeno burger with mixed greens, grilled onions, jalapeno sauce, a grilled chili pepper and cheddar cheese. NW 27th and Wilson
Timber’s Doghouse PDX – Timber opened her cart focusing first on tater tot bowls, but grew the menu to offer a list of wonderful burgers. You can get a basic or a bacon cheeseburger or one with pineapple or mushrooms. Then again, you could enjoy “One Night in Bangkok” with a burger topped with a relish of bacon, peanut butter, sriracha and pickles. One unique take on the burger. SE 43rd and Belmont
The Egg Carton – A breakfast vendor by trade, they offer a breakfast burger with a sausage and beef patty, cheddar cheese, egg and bacon jam on a potato roll with lettuce, tomato, pickled onion, Dijon and bloody mary sauce. Bacon jam and bloody mary sauce? Oh yeah. And the potato roll works well with all the ingredients. Start your day off right with a breakfast burger. SE 52nd and Foster
I know there are other burgers out there at the cart I may have missed. Let us know and we’ll add them to this list. Now, go enjoy a burger.