Burger Madness is a seeded tournament pitting 64 Portland patties against each other. Our critics ate through the best Bistro Burgers, Bar Burgers, and Brewery Burgers and Burger Burgers  in Portland—and will reveal their picks round by round until the best burger in Portland is crowned.

Here's the winner among all the bistro burgers in Portland, which will go on to the Final Four. 

Toro Bravo  (4) vs. Cafe Castagna (10)

Toro Bravo
120 NE Russell St., 503-281-4464, torobravopdx.com. 5-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, 5-11 pm Friday-Saturday.

Toro Bravo (Thomas Teal)

If serial restaurateur John Gorham is the Rick Pitino of Portland burgers, Toro Bravo is still his Kentucky Wildcats. The secret to the burger at Toro Bravo ($14) is housemade romesco, the special sauce of Catalonia in northeastern Spain. Alongside bread-and-butter zucchini pickles, that creamy housemade blend of garlic, nut, and roasted red pepper acts as counterpoint to the deep salt and richness of the 6-ounce, grill-caramelized Cascade Natural beef, pungent manchego and housemade bacon.

Cafe Castagna
1758 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 503-231-9959, castagnarestaurant.com/cafecastagna. 5-10 pm Tuesday-Saturday, 5-9 pm Sunday.
For more than a decade, Cafe Castagna’s burger  ($13 with fries) has been famous for hitting the fundamentals and for those still-unbeatable bread-and-butter zucchini pickles. The burger arrives naked and cooked precisely to spec, on a slightly sweet, plain brioche from Ken’s Artisan. All toppings are placed on the side, including pristine butter lettuce, onion, tomato (in season) and those great pickles. For $2 each, you can add bacon, sherry-grilled onions and cheese—cheddar, swiss or blue—or add nothing at all.

WINNER: Toro Bravo. It’s bread-and-butter pickles vs. bread-and-butter pickles. But the Kentucky Wildcats of hamburgers wins again. In Zukin’s 2010 Burgerquest, Toro Bravo’s burger came in third, losing only to two burgers that no longer exist. That mix of manchego, bacon, and romesco put it over the top of Castagna’s simple and cuke-burger, elevating Toro Bravo to the best bistro burger in all of Portland. It’ll face Grain and Gristle next.

Here’s the path to the Final Four:

BurgerBrackets_Divisions5-bistro