Posted By Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
8/27/2009 7:00:00 PM
How did Portland become such a hamburger-eater's paradise? We expected to find all manner of local seafood, such as the exquisite salmon, smoked and fresh, and enormous razor clams and Dungeness crab that this region is deservedly known for, and a farm country bounty of fresh-from-the-earth produce. What we did not expect was the burger-mania evident in this city. There is apparently a local mega-burger competition to see who can serve up the largest, most generously garnished hamburgers in town. The full-dress version, usually with a name like The Giant, or The Killer, consists of a bacon cheeseburger, or two, lettuce, tomato, and onion, maybe pickle, with the added double whallop of ham and a fried egg to make it an only-in-Portland breakfast and lunch combo on a bun.
The best example of this burger style, in our experience, can be found at a northeast Portland bar called Stanich's. This old-time tavern is festooned with banners from what must be every professional and college sports team in the country's history! They're on the walls, hanging from the ceiling, and everywhere else you look. The burger special here is called, suitably enough, The Special. The burger itself is not enormous. The sandwich's strength is in how (somewhat surprisingly) well it is balanced, with all those toppings applied in amounts that blend to form a really delicious, not gross, hamburger. They'll even cut it in half for two of you if you don't think you can handle one on your own. On the side, be sure to get the bargain fresh-cut french fries, salty and pecan-hued. These are some first-class fries. A pitcher will go along nicely.
We haven't been here in the evening, but during the day Stanich's is a perfectly wholesome place to while away an afternoon. There are games and televisions to keep patrons occupied, and we saw families enjoying a few burgers together. Our waitress was friendly and eager to please.