Sliders are a highly contentious subject among hamburger purists. Why forgo the succulent big-patty package for the novelty of a few measly, most-likely overcooked doppelgängers? Well, 50 Plates offers two very defensible reasons: the Old Faithful ($4), an all-American offering of lightly seasoned Kobe beef from Idaho’s Snake River Farms, dressed up with a tried-and-true mélange of Tillamook white cheddar, pickles, lettuce, and a sweet-and-sour cabbage relish; and the Lil’ Kahuna ($4), a toothsome burger-ette made with said Kobe beef and topped with grilled Canadian bacon and pineapple, then drizzled with a tangy house-made teriyaki sauce. Each equals five bites of juicy, meaty pleasure—without the beef hangover. —RR
333 NW 13th Ave; 503-228-5050; 50plates.com
Pause Kitchen and Bar Slider Special, $7 Two sliders of hand-ground Strawberry Mountain Natural beef—one topped with Tillamook cheddar, the other with blue cheese and house-smoked bacon—on buns slicked with chipotle aioli. 5101 N Interstate Ave; 971-230-0705
Blueplate Lunch Counter & Soda Fountain NorthWest Sliders, $7 Two beef-and-pork patties with herbs, spices, garlic, and onion on wheat potato rolls with Tillamook cheddar and basil mayonnaise.
308 SW Washington St; 503-295-2583; eatatblueplate.com
Tasting the best of the burgers tossed by Portland’s elite chefs isn’t so much about touring ostentatious artistry as savoring the deepest nuances of a craft. They’re all pretty damned good. The question is, do you prefer the earthier, longer-lingering aftertaste of Cascade Natural beef (Higgins and Lovely Hula Hands) to the lighter Strawberry Mountain Natural (Le Pigeon)? Or do the new Laurelhurst Market’s delicate, slightly sweet yeast rolls outshine Noble Rot’s sesame brioche buns sourced from Grand Central Bakery? And which, among the many variations of house-made pickled vegetables, make your taste buds perk up more? These are all critical questions when handing over $15 for a burger. Our pick, by the thinnest of margins—owing to its firm, house-baked brioche bun, home-cured bacon, and tangy aioli—is the Paley’s Place burger ($15). A medium-rare cross-rib cut of Highland Oak Farm beef and a layer of Fourme d’Ambert blue cheese or gruyère merge beautifully into a viscous, rich pink worthy of a Dutch still life. At $17 with the full fixins of bacon and cheese, the burger calls for a deep dig into the wallet. But it’s well worth it. While you’re at it, you might as well throw in a $6 order of Kennebec potato fries. —Randy Gragg 1204 NW 21st Ave; 503-243-2403; paleysplace.net
Noble Rot Hamburger, $11 A patty made from Cascade Natural rib-eye and Highland Oak Farm chuck, topped with Dijonaise and garnished with pickles, red onion, and, when in season, fresh tomatoes from the rooftop garden, all pressed between a Grand Central Bakery brioche bun.
1111 E Burnside St; 503-233-1999; noblerotpdx.com
Toro Bravo House Bacon and Manchego Burger, $9 Strawberry Mountain Natural patty served on a Grand Central Bakery brioche bun with house-cured bacon, aged manchego cheese, and house-made pickles, all covered with a thick layer of classic romesco sauce. 120 NE Russell St; 503-281-4464; torobravopdx.com