John Gorham's projects don't always age well. The globe-hopping restaurateur's debut, Toro Bravo, is a classic, but we've lately been less enthused about other spots in his empire, even including the Tasty N Sons bruncherie, a former Restaurant of the Year.
Maybe it's him, maybe it's us, or maybe it's the city—the loud rooms, fire-at-random coursing and relentless barrage of buzzy ingredients that once seemed to embody Portland's chill vibes now just seem like symptoms of late capitalism.
But you know what? The guy just keeps making hits. Like Kanye, he's on to the next thing before people are even over the last thing. And his latest project, BYH Burgers, a kiosk inside Pine Street Market, is a banger. It might be the best burger in the city right now.
Gorham knows burgers, as evident at Toro Bravo. At Bless Your Heart, Gorham has teamed with former employee Drew Sprouse. Together, they made a blend that's one-third each of short rib, chuck and brisket. That beef is caramelized to juicy perfection, showing a steaky character you'd expect from a burger cooked on an older, more well-seasoned grill. Then, it gets an incredible bun—Martin's potato rolls purchased in bulk from the Pennsylvania company and frozen until needed. When that bun is heated on the steam-powered griddle, it becomes delightfully crisp with a great snap.
My favorite is the double cheeseburger with American cheese, but the speciality of the house is a Carolina-style diner burger. What's Carolina style? Well, it seems to involve a dark-brown meat chili that could pass for finely ground Manwich, yellow mustard, a dash of Texas Pete and crisp slaw. Get either with the animal-style fries called "down and dirty," which are sopped with the house beer-cheese and barbecue sauces and topped with onions, peppers and mushrooms.
Pro tip: Pine Street Market has settled into a groove after 18 months. My favorite neighbors are the crazy hot dogs at OP Wurst, the ramen at Marukin and the soft-serve sundaes at Wiz Bang. As of press time, there is no code required to access the Pine Street Market restrooms.