On Wednesday, we begin a big, beefy battle to pick the best burger in Portland.
Burger Madness is a seeded tournament pitting up 64 Portland patties. Our critics ate through the list and will reveal their picks round by round until the best burger in Portland is crowned.
You can complete your own bracket next week. Whoever gets the closest to our winners will get $150 to spend on drinks and burgers at Bar Bar on Mississippi.
Welcome to Burger Madness! This is the play-in round, where we will determine the 16 seed that will face the top seed in the four regional brackets: bar, brewpub, bistro and classic burger.
Today, a classic burger battle between Stepping Stone Cafe, a Slabtown diner that was built in 1948, and Brunch Box, a food cart that first opened in 2009-turned downtown brick and mortar with 15 kinds of burgers.
When you are served the One Eyed Jack Burger ($9 with fries), it looks sort of like biscuits and gravy. Atop an overcooked fried egg is a blanket of melted, lumpy jack cheese. After biting into the burger, you kinda wish you just ordered biscuits and gravy. Something about the bacon and melted jack cheese is just wrong, but it's still nice to just be at Stepping Stone, where they're never that nice, but in a really good way.
The The YouCanHasCheeseburger ($8.50) is a burger served on a grilled cheese bun made with Texas toast. You're basically eating two entire grilled cheese sandwiches, plus a patty. And that's not even their most adventurous. Three of their burgers have a grilled cheese bun, and a couple have even got spam. It's a good idea in theory and not so great in practice.
WINNER: Stepping Stone Cafe. The YouCanHasCheeseburger is a gooey, overly-sweet mess with syrupy grilled onions. The only part worth eating is the first bite of grilled cheese.