Where to Eat Cheap in Outer Northeast

Killer burgers, unkillable ribs and Korean-style pancakes.

(Joe Riedl)

Burger: Killer Burger

4644 NE Sandy Blvd., 971-544-7521, killerburger.com. 11 am-10 pm Monday-Friday, 11 am-8 pm Sunday. Multiple other locations.

Killer Burger seems as if it were devised by a hyperactive, possibly very stoned teenager. Its logo looks ripped from a video game cartridge. The menu is made up of gloriously gloppy monstrosities loaded with stuff like bleu cheese fondue, ham and eggs, and, most famously, peanut butter and pickles. And there's bacon on everything. It shouldn't work as anything more than a gut-busting novelty. And yet, the franchise has grown from its Hollywood neighborhood flagship into a mini-empire, with locations all over town, including Moda Center, the 'burbs and even Scottsdale, Ariz. That's because, other than being creatively over the top, the burgers are just what they claim to be—absolutely killer. In particular, the aforementioned Peanut Butter Pickle Bacon Burger ($7.95-$12.95) succeeds wildly, primarily because the main flavor is applied more subtly than you'd imagine—it comes through more like a Thai peanut sauce than a layer of Skippy. And for burger purists, Killer has something for you, too. It's called the Purist ($6.95-$11.95), and it comes with bacon on the side, so as not to upset your delicate sensibilities. MATTHEW SINGER.

Pizza: Red Sauce Pizza

4935 NE 42nd Ave., 503-288-4899, redsaucepizza.com. 4:30-9 pm Sunday-Thursday, 4:30-9:30 pm Friday-Saturday.

(Rachael Renee Levasseur)

For $15, you can easily eke two meals out of Red Sauce Pizza, either by ordering a massive calzone filled with sausage, peppers and kale ($14) or a 13-inch pizza topped with thinly sliced soppressata and arugula ($15; $24 for a 16-inch). Pizza is the better option here, but some of the pies will cost you just over $15. Still, a few options, from the soppressata-laced Parcel  to the classic cheese—or, as it's listed on the menu, "CHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESE"—come in under budget. All the calzones are a bit cheaper, but extremely hefty and paired with the restaurant's signature red sauce for dipping. There's even a vegan calzone, if you want to avoid cheese. If you want a healthier option, this pizza spot also offers three types of salad for $12 each. KATIE SHEPHERD.

Tacos: Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon

16223 NE Glisan St., 503-255-4356, salsaslocas.com. 9 am-7 pm daily.

(Joe Riedl)

Take it from a former Angeleno—this little Mexican mercado and restaurant combo on the eastern edge of Portland can stand up to any Southern California taco shop. The meat is so tender and perfectly seasoned, you could eat it without the salsa offerings, although the thick habanero blend is recommended for anyone who wants to crank up the heat. If you only order one thing, stick with the carnitas y nopales taco plate ($10.99). Each tortilla is loaded with an extremely generous scoop of melt-off-the-bone slow-cooked pork and topped with delicious pickled cactus. The chicken enchiladas were filled with equally tender meat. Wash it down with the just-sweet-enough $2 horchata. KATIE SHEPHERD.

Chinese: Chin’s Kitchen

4126 NE Broadway, 503-281-1203, chinskitchenportland.com. 11 am-3 pm and 5-9 pm Tuesday-Sunday.

With its massive neon façade, Chin's Kitchen has been a staple in the Hollywood neighborhood for nearly 70 years, but in 2016, new owners (and sisters) Chang Feng and Change Li brought a more regional focus. Going to Chin's Kitchen without ordering the guo bao rou ($18.95) would be a huge mistake. It's a style of sweet-and-sour pork historic to the Dongbei region in northeastern China, and tasting it brings enlightenment. The thinly sliced pieces of deep-fried meat arrive incredibly crisp, yet tender in the center. The sauce, which adheres to everything, maintains the familiar sweetness and tang but is much lighter and more complex than most. Beyond the guo bao rou, there's a lot to explore: dry-fried wings with sweet-and-sour dipping sauce ($9.95, $13.95), plump pork and leek dumplings ($10.95), spicy cumin beef ($15.95) and hand-pulled noodle soup ($11.95) prepared on the other side of a glass window. MATTIE JOHN BAMMAN.

BBQ: Reo’s Ribs

4211 NE Sandy Blvd., 503-310-3600, reosribsbbq.com. 10 am-7 pm Tuesday-Friday, 7 am-7 pm Saturday, 11 am-5 pm Sunday.

Reo’s Ribs owner Reo Varnado. IMAGE: Maya Setton.

Try as they might, the haters can't stop Reo's Ribs. That includes the woman who sued over the billows of smoke produced by its two massive barrel grills, the fire that consumed the restaurant in 2017 and, at times, this very newspaper. No matter what, co-owner and namesake Reo Varnado always finds his way back on his feet. It probably helps he has family connections: He is, famously, the uncle of rapper Snoop Dogg. It's an association he is not shy about playing up—walk into the recently rebuilt space inside the former Hollwood Burger Bar, and you'll immediately face a blown-up photo of Varnado hanging with his nephew and, uh, Martha Stewart. But even without the celebrity endorsement, the barbecue stands on its own. While the menu is stuffed with Southern staples, from pig's feet to smothered chicken, stick with what's on the marquee. The baby-back ribs ($15, includes two sides) are juicy and smoky, and come slathered in Varnado's signature sweet, peppery sauce. They are, one might say, the shiznit. MATTHEW SINGER.

Wildcard (American-Korean): Cameo Cafe

8111 NE Sandy Blvd., 503-284-0401, cameocafe.com. 6:30 am-3 pm daily. Second location at 7703 NE 72nd Ave., Vancouver, Wash.

The sensation that you've been transported back to your grandma's kitchen table is worth waking up early enough to beat the rush of locals enjoying corned beef hash and hotcakes sold "by the acre." That's not a joke—the pancakes at this diner, which markets itself as "American fare with a Korean twist," are huge, even by kitschy diner standards. A "half-acre" easily feeds two. Elsewhere, the menu sports Korean-style pancakes and a bacon-and-egg breakfast coupled with rice and kimchi. Use a light touch with the hot sauce served in unmarked bottles on each table, which packs a powerful punch of Korean spices. If you want a more traditional breakfast, trust the waitress and order the blueberry hotcakes, which are fluffy and savory enough to soak in maple syrup. You'd be remiss not to order a side of salty, fatty, thick-cut bacon to balance the sweetness of the pancake. The biscuits and gravy, which comes with perfectly crisped hash browns, tastes just like Nana's best home cooking, but better. Sorry, Nana. KATIE SHEPHERD.

Bonus: Du's Grill

5365 NE Sandy Blvd., 503-284-1773, dusgrill.com. 11 am-8:45 pm Monday-Friday. Second location at 1249 NW 185th Ave., Hillsboro.

Du's Grill is the finest Korean-owned, Mexican-staffed teriyaki joint in an I-5 corridor stacked with such places: A wonderland of perfectly grill-kissed beef, pork and chicken served with salad topped with poppy-seed dressing, Du's is a Portland treasure. If you can't find it, follow the billowing, meat-scented smoke like a carnivorous toucan.

Where to eat cheap: Central Eastside | Northwest Portland | Outer Northeast Inner Southeast | Inner Northeast | Lower Southeast | Downtown | North Portland | Southwest Portland Portland Suburbs |  Deep Southeast

Food Cart of the Year Four Truly Hidden Cheap Eats Gems | Five Places to Eat Cheap After Hours 

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