HAMBURGERS: NEW PRINCIPLES OF COMPOSITION

Five local discoveries offer novel definitions of what a burger can be.

Aina Burger at Ate-Oh-Ate
Aina Burger at Ate-Oh-Ate

Aina Burger at ATE-OH-ATE

They had us at kimchi relish. What could have easily veered into burger gimmickry instead vaults this specimen into an exotic category apart. A study in sweet and sour complexity, the Hawaiian-inspired Aina mingles its beef patty with crispy pork belly, shaved sweet onion, and a generous tangle of shredded iceberg, all hugged by sesame-laced brioche to make for one indulgent, addictive surprise. 

Burger at LITTLE BIRD

Little Bird has unveiled its own beastly spin-off from the Le Pigeon burger, infusing the icon with Francophilic edge. Luscious ground chuck now sits on a seeded brioche bun, topped with tangy goat cheese crumbles, griddled onions, and butter lettuce. Pickle relish and chèvre dressing cleave the elements into a crescendo of meaty decadence. (For just $20 extra, get it with seared foie gras ... and then assume the supine position.)

Hamburger at GRÜNER

This is the creation of a perfectionist. Assembly begins with a house-made kaiser-style potato bun unlike any other, coated with a glossy varnish and dusted lightly with poppy seeds. Inside, impossibly juicy house-ground chuck cozies up to peppery arugula, smoky bacon, house pickles, and ketchup with a subtle kick. Top it with fontina and voilà—it disappears.

Kiwi Burger at FOSTER BURGER 

Depending on your disposition, a full menu of 13 burger options is either thrilling or terrifying. Trust us: go with the Kiwi, Portland’s best argument for ground lamb between two buns. The patty’s delicate, gamey flavor offers an anchor to the surprise of pickled beet, while a sunny-side-up egg binds the whole thing in yolky deliciousness.

The H&V Burger at THE HOP & VINE

With a mesquite-grilled, spice-packed patty, the H&V manages to out-flavor the others. Then there’s the no-frills, biscuit-like bun, the slice of cumin-studded leyden cheese, the crispy pepper bacon, and the fried egg. Nothing is more satisfying than simplicity. 

Which side are you on? Read and weigh in on our sandwich smackdowns online
—we’ll print the winners in our May issue!