This week, we're revealing the winners in the classic burgers Sweet Sixteen.
MATCHUP #1: Killer Burger (1) vs. Stoopid Burger (4)
Nine locations. killerburger.com. 11 am-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, 11 am-midnight Friday-Saturday.
Their most famous burger is still so fucking good—a peanut butter-pickle-bacon burger, with peanut-butter sauce, bacon, smokey house sauce, mayo, grilled onion and pickle ($9.75 with fries). It's the kind of burger you feel like you're making out with—getting so lost in it you don't realize you haven't talked to anyone in 10 minutes and you're left wiping peanut-butter sauce off your face with a sweetness still on your tongue.
3441 N Vancouver Ave., 971-801-4180, stoopidburgerpdx.com. 11 am-9 pm Monday-Friday, noon-9 pm Saturday.
There's nothing as stupidly good as the Stoopid Burger ($11.75), which comes with salty, hot fries served in a paper bag. It's got beef, bacon, ham, a hot link, and egg, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles, for God's sake. If you want more, you always will. Although you'll be unable to get everything in your mouth for the first few bites—it's served basically like a taco, it's so full—every bite stands on its own as a thing of wonder.
WINNER: Stoopid Burger—in an upset! While Killer Burger somehow manages to pull off infusing a burger with a savory-sweet peanut butter taste, Stoopid pulls off infusing a burger with an egg, bacon, ham and sausage. Which is to say, it tastes like a big, fat, savory burger… and a breakfast, without the rubbery texture that afflicts way too many eggburgers. It is so, so good.
MATCHUP #1: Gastro Mania (14) vs. Mike's Drive-In (15)
1986 NW Pettygrove St., 503-689-3794, gastromaniapdx.com. 11 am-8 pm Monday-Saturday.
When its old food-cart pod was snatched up by developers, Bulgarian chef Alex Nenchev moved his food to a brick-and-mortar in Slabtown. WW called it the very best spot in the neighborhood to get lunch and called the foie gras burger "a thing of ridiculous luxury." The price back then was under $10, but $13 with salad still feels cheap. It's got the perfect amount of moisture and savor, with a generous portion of foie gras from Canada geese. And for now, it may be the only foie gras burger in town: St. Jack's formerly foie'd burger now comes with bacon.
3045 SE Harrison St., Milwaukie, 503-654-0131, mikesdrivein.com. 10 am-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 10 am-11 pm Friday-Saturday, 11 am-10 pm Sunday.
The patty on the Mike's Special ($6.85) is nicely charred, though a little overcooked. The bun melts away as it soaks in the oils and flavors of everything inside, particularly the fatty, chewy bacon that's left. It's also got shredded iceberg lettuce, sliced tomato and onion, fry sauce soaking into the bun, and a glorious strip of bacon peeking out, with a dollop of hot cheese sticking to the side, and a drop of oil falling on your lap.
WINNER: Gastromania. The real upset of the tournament is how these two low-seeded burgers climbed their way to go head-to-head with some of the highest-ranked. Mike's is good, greasy and enjoyed in the comfort of your car in a parking lot in Milwaukie. Gastromania, on the other hand, is the lap of luxury, with a hearty helping of foie gras.
Next up: Stoopid Burger vs. Gastro Mania for the title of best bistro burger in Portland—and the chance to compete against the Bistro, Bar, and Brewery burgers for the crown.