1473 NE Prescott St., 503-288-4740, grainandgristle.com. Noon-midnight Monday-Friday, 9 am-midnight Saturday-Sunday. Happy hour 3-5 pm daily: modestly cheaper food specials.
Established: December 2010
Blond-wood, sun-drenched gastropub Grain & Gristle serves the best burger in Portland. We say this without reservation or hyperbole, having tried over a hundred Portland burgers from fine-dining restaurants to greasy burger joints this March. Chef Greg Smith's $12 burger—$10 at happy hour—is the burger to rule them all. The thick, half-pound patty of beef comes from a line of Herefords cultivated since 1856 at Oregon's Hawley Ranch, butchered by sister restaurant Old Salt in Cully and fresh-ground each day. The pickles are housemade, as is the garlic-lemon aioli. The bun is baked by Grain & Gristle's former in-house baker, the green lettuce shocked in frigid water for crispness. It is simplicity as virtue, with all things made only for their purpose in this burger. But the superlatives don't stop there.
Six seasonal taps of beer come from co-owner Alex Ganum's brewery Upright, an easy contender for best brewery in town—the Fantasia peach beer bottles are stunning, the always-on-tap Engelberg Pilsner one of the finest Pilsners Oregon has ever made. And with all this, the bar also has perhaps the best meal-deal in town: a rotating $25 couples dinner that includes beer for two. When the patio opens up out back in its out-of-the-way Northeast Prescott Street 'hood, there is perhaps no better place to eat an outdoor meal. Grain & Gristle is simply one of the best places in town—for everything.
Bar story: Do you like the beef so much you want to marry it, in a home ceremony? At Old Salt, G&G's sister restaurant and butcher shop in Cully, the hamburger meat costs less than at New Seasons, but is twice as good.