Review: Foster Burger (SE Portland)


Foster Burger
5339 SE Foster Rd
Portland, Oregon 97206
Map It!
Ph: 503-775-2077
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
Website | Menu | Facebook | Twitter
Lunch money: $$-$$$
Rating: ★★★★☆

Although I’ve known of the existence of Foster Burger since they opened in late 2009, I’d yet had the opportunity to make the trek into deep SE Portland until last week…and my visit was actually by accident.

You see, I was headed home from Happy Valley (a misnomer if there ever was one) and had planned to check out a popular noodle spot on 82nd, but then something came over me, a craving for a burger and fries. As I crossed over Foster Road, something from my subconscious said: “Make a u-turn and go to Foster Burger.”

So I did.

I easily found a parking spot (street parking only, but it doesn’t seem too tough to find spots) and my friend and I headed in with high expectations.

OK, I know this is a gritty part of town and I’m no stranger to the “weird” underbelly of this cray-cray city, but I was still a little surprised by the location of this widely praised “family-friendly” place. It’s two doors down from Devil’s Point strip club and across the street from a Fantasy Video and a place called Pussycats (which offers lingerie “modeling”).

That aside, Foster Burger is a pretty cool spot. The walls are covered with old concert handbills, the booths are comfy and the dim lighting sets a cozy tone.

We arrived right before the rush, snagged a booth and our server was promptly there to drop off the menus.

Foster Burger’s menu is simple: burgers, fries and some sides (this is a burger place, after all).

If you go the traditional burger route, you’ll pick your burger size and add-on any number of the topping options (from the basics like cheese to more eccentric items like pickled beets). The menu also offers a few preset specialty burgers. One thing to know when ordering is all burgers are cooked medium unless you request otherwise to the waiter.

I went with the standard Foster Burger (plus Cheddar, minus onion) and my lunch pal ordered the burger of the day, the Miss Piggy. The Miss Piggy is a belly-buster, with the beef patty topped with pork belly, bacon, pastrami, Swiss and American cheese. Whoa!

Because the burgers come sans sides, we decided to split an order of the Black and White Fries (topped with parmesan, truffle oil and served with a house made squid ink aioli dipping sauce).

Our Black and White Fries were deposited at out table before the burgers arrived, appetizer like. The fries were perfectly crunchy-yet-tender and the uber-black dipping sauce was initially daunting, but ultimately delicious. The one downside to having the fries arrive first is trying to resist the urge to over-snack before your burgers. Note: The burgers are BIG! So try to resist.

Our burgers arrived perfectly cooked, with just a little pink in the middle. My burger was cheesy, juicy and mouth-watering. This is NOT the place to worry about counting calories. On top of that, literally, the buttery brioche-style sesame bun is excellent (and made next door at An Xuyen Bakery). The side of special “Foster sauce” was great on the burger AND on the fries.

After my share of fries, I could only get through half of my burger (the other half was a decidedly satisfying late-night snack).

My pal’s Miss Piggy burger was massive and he thoroughly enjoyed every last bite. You’ll need to be hungry to tackle that one!

One thing that especially delights me about Foster Burger is that they offer poutine. Not familiar? Poutine is the French-Canadian delicacy of fries covered with cheese curds and then doused in gravy. Sound gooey good? It is! And you’ll be in poutine heaven at Foster Burger because they offer SIX different varieties. That might be a record number of options outside of the Maple Leaf country.

Sadly, I took a pass on the poutine that visit, but it’s on my ‘must-eat’ list for a future trip to Foster Burger.

Another thing I really like about Foster Burger is that you can control the portions you order. If even a “regular” sized burger is too much (and it is a lot), you can order the Mini Foster. If you’re extra famished, then there’s the Double Foster.

As for veggie options, well, there’s a veggie burger and an entrée-sized green salad—and that’s about it.

There are adult drinks aplenty at Foster Burger, from specialty cocktails to draft microbrews to their signature “cockshakes”—a milkshake with a shot of your choice. As for soda, you should know the colas are Royal Crown, which seem to have a love it or hate it relationship with Portland cola drinkers.

Overall, Foster Burger is a fun burger joint that caters to the neighborhood crowd, SE hipster and (it seems) parents. It might not be the burger place for everyone, but I’m certain I’ll be back!

PROS:
– Portions are as small or as big as you want!
– POUTINE
– The yummy buns practically melt in your mouth

CONS:
– Sketchy neighborhood
– Can get crowded; avoid peak dining times if you don’t want to wait

Foster Burger on Urbanspoon

Review: Boke Bowl (SE Industrial District)

Boke Bowl
1028 SE Water Avenue
Portland, OR 97214
Map It!
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Menu
Lunch money: $$-$$$
Rating: ★★★★½

Portland has a lot of noodle options. Like, A LOT of noodle options. So when the buzz-a-thon about Boke Bowl opening their first permanent location began to spread via Twitter, I knew I was going to have to check it out…stat.

If you’re unfamiliar, the Boke Bowl craze actually dates back to September 2010 when the owners launched their first pop-up dinner, and since that first special event Boke Bowl has won the attention and affection of many a foodie and non-foodie alike.

I really didn’t know what to expect for my first lunchtime visit to their new SE Water Avenue location (just across from clarklewis and next door to Bunk Bar), but I did expect it to be crowded. And it was. We arrived just before noon on a Tuesday and the line stretched the length of the front windows…but luckily there is a good amount of standing room inside (otherwise that’s a big dealbreaker on rainy PDX days).

You order and pay at the counter and then (hopefully) find a seat. There’s a massive menu displayed on the wall and the ordering process is straightforward. Pick a dashi (Japanese-style stock) flavor, choose anything you would like to add on and you’re done!

Boke Bowl also offers a couple side dishes (kimchi, assorted pickles, etc.), steamed buns and desserts just in case that oversized bowl of noodles, veggies and deliciousness wasn’t quite filling enough.

I went with the pork and chicken dashi, which includes smoked pulled pork ($9) and my lunch pal went for the seafood miso dashi with shrimp ($10). We also indulged our sweet tooths and opted to get the chocolate with coconut cream Boke twinkie.

We were lucky enough on that visit to find a place to sit right away. There are several single tables, but the most common seating option is the communal long tables. While the communal style might seem a little awkward at first, you never really feel that your dining neighbors are too close for comfort. Continue reading Review: Boke Bowl (SE Industrial District)

Review: Hamburger Mary’s (Old Town)


Hamburger Mary’s
19 NW 5th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97209
Map It!
Ph: 503-688-1200
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Menu
Lunch money: $$-$$$
Rating: ★★★★☆
 
My recent visit to Portland’s “new” Hamburger Mary’s was on a whim. I was meeting up with a friend and we hadn’t devised a lunch destination in advance. As we headed toward our planned meet up spot, he text suggested Mary’s.  I immediately agreed.

I had yet to visit the new version of this venerable eatery…and I hadn’t been to any other Hamburger Mary’s since the original Portland location closed in the ‘90s. Now the “new” Mary’s has been open for a full year…totally time for a visit!

The self-proclaimed “gayest” restaurant in town certainly has an expansive menu, but what else could you want from an establishment called Hamburger Mary’s other than a big, juicy hamburger? And the hamburger menu alone is fat with options. There are standard burgers and specialty burgers, but then you get to pick your meat (or meatless) patty options—they offer everything from vegan to black bean to buffalo to Kobe beef.

I went with the simple Mary Burger with cheddar cheese and tater tots on the side. My lunch buddy went with the Spicy Mary, which comes piled high with jalapenos, spicy Mojo sauce and blackening seasoning, and chose a side of fries.

I wasn’t truly prepared for the size of the burgers that soon landed on our table. Huge. Massive, in fact. I liked that each burger came with a extra large steak knife because a.) the heaping burgers are stuffed with toppings and b.) unless you are super-duper hungry, you’re probably going to have leftovers for later.

The burger verdict? The meat was juicy, the toppings were very fresh and the bun was, like, WOWZA! Seriously, the buns are amazing. Our server told us they are made locally daily and (*cringe*) made of 25 percent butter. So, so, so good. Continue reading Review: Hamburger Mary’s (Old Town)

Gallery: Some Summer 2011 Food Porn

Oh, summer, where have you gone? Didn’t this summer seem to fly by faster than usual? (Maybe that was because summertime weather didn’t arrive in PDX until about August?) Of course, as we look back at these photos, we realize we certainly made the most of our eating opportunities over the past few months. Here’s our (actually short) gallery of some of the tasty tidbits we consumed. Enjoy!

Review: Kornblatt’s Deli (NW Portland)

Kornblatt’s Deli
628 NW 23rd Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97210
Map It!
503-242-1027 | Fax: 503-242-1027
Hours: M-F: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sat & Sun: 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Lunch money: $$-$$$
Rating: ★★★★½

Oh, the New York City-style deli dilemma…. It’s seems to be a rather important argument here in Portland. Yep, we’ve got Kenny & Zuke’s and their offshoot SandwichWorks, we sorta still have Rose’s…then…ummmmm?

So while we were walking around doing some sunny afternoon shopping on NW 23rd we happened upon Kornblatt’s Deli and promptly decided to give it a try. Having firsthand knowledge of the delicious true NYC deli experience and having visited Kenny & Zuke’s on a number of occasions, with only so-so results, we weren’t going to hold our breathe about Kornblatt’s. It could easily be hit or miss.

The first thing we noticed at Kornblatt’s was the massive number of menu offering on the equally massive-sized menu. Not just your usual corned beef, pastrami and bagels with cream cheese and lox, Kornblatt’s offers a wide arrange of breakfast, lunch and dinner options—and the full menu is available all day! Score one for Kornblatt’s!

Our lunchtime pal warned us that the popular Empire State Sandwiches were “bigger than your mouth can handle” (and the menu warns “no wimpy appetites allowed”), so we decided to try something a tad lighter.

Since the bagel options take up an entire page of the menu, we decided that would be the more reasonable route we’d go for. We decided on the Salami Tires (salami, deli mustard and provolone) on a garlic bagel. This is one of Kornblatt’s Hot Top bagel sandwiches, served open-faced and with the melt-y cheese broiled to perfection. It turned out to be the perfect sandwich size for lunch. The bagel was garlicky and chewy, the salami was tangy, the provolone was smoky and the deli mustard was spicy and seedy. The side dish we opted for, the coleslaw, was fresh and crunchy, but a little on the mild, watery side.

Verdict: delish! Continue reading Review: Kornblatt’s Deli (NW Portland)

Review: Jin Wah Restaurant (Beaverton)

Jin Wah Restaurant
4021 SW 117th Avenue (across from Fred Meyer; near Beaverton TC)
Beaverton, OR 97005
Map It!
503-641-2852
Hours: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. (daily dim sum 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.)
Website | Lunch money: $$$
Rating: ★★★☆☆

When we hear the text message alert on the iPhone go off before noon on a Saturday it only means one thing: Our pal Matt W. wants to go get food. Sure enough that was the situation over the weekend, so before we knew it we were out of our weekend loungewear (fave bright yellow PJ pants and a boyfriend-sized t-shirt) and headed to the ‘burbs (Beaverton, to be exact) for some dim sum.

Now this wasn’t our first venture into Cantonese small plate dining, but this was our first visit to Jin Wah Restaurant. We met up with Matt (who had already started digging into some dishes) and our other dining companion during the restaurant’s busy dim sum lunch hours. The place was packed and everyone looked like regulars…always a good sign!

Now here’s our very own personal problem when we go for dim sum: We can never figure out what is what on the cart! What kind of dumplings are those? What’s in that bun? Are those chicken feet?!?! Yeah, it’s not a world-ending issue, but it does take some time to figure out what’s what and dive into the tasty stuff.

Of course, with so many options to try it’s hard to pick something wrong…and if you do someone else at the table will likely happily inhale it.

We started with some turnip cake, a couple plates of various dumplings, some taro dumplings, spare ribs and, of course, the traditional tea. After that we ordered more dumplings, BBQ pork buns, potstickers and Phoenix claws (yep, that would be chicken feet!).

If that sounds like a lot, it WAS! We were stuffed! Continue reading Review: Jin Wah Restaurant (Beaverton)

Review: Hawaiian Time (Pearl District)

Hawaiian Time
505 NW 14th Ave.
Portland, OR 97209
Map It!
503-459-4040 ‎
Hours: Sun-Th 11 a.m. to 9 p.m./F-Sat 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Facebook Page | Menu (PDF) | Lunch Money: $$
Rating: ★★★★½

Aloha my lovely Stumptown Lunch brahs! Are you ready to grind into some epic “plate lunch” awesomeness?

Plate Lunch: A combo menu item that is a traditional part of Hawaiian cuisine. While some options will vary, the standard plate lunch consists of a main entrée, two scoops of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad.

We’d been hearing about the Hawaiian Time location in the Pearl District almost constantly since we arrived back in PDX last month. This is mainly because our best bud, Matt W., is a regular and he’s constantly bragging about having just eaten there on the way over to Stumptown Lunch HQs. (BTW, yeah, thanks for NOT bringing us some all those times, Matt!)

So, after a recent visit to Powell’s, we decided to hoof it a few blocks to try some of the Polynesian meat treats for ourselves.

The verdict is in: What the heck were we waiting for?!?!

To say it was good would be an understatement. To say it was delicious would still be an understatement. To say that we could eat at Hawaiian Time every single day would be absolutely accurate. Seriously. It’s that good!

Walking into the former-gas-station-turned-tiny-restaurant-joint, we were surprised by how simple and straightforward the menu was. Meat, more meat, side of meat, marinated meat, grilled meat, seasoned meat…oh, and steamed rice and that notorious mac salad. Yes, there are one or two vegetarian options, but serious veggie-only types won’t have much to pick from here.

If you are going for one of the plate lunches you’ll have three sizes to choose from. The regular size has one generous portion of your choice of meat, two scoops of rice and a scoop of mac salad. The smaller “dakine” portion contains a little less meat (but not by much) and one scoop each of rice and mac salad. If you are really hungry (and I mean REALLY hungry) there’s the “alii” portion, which includes a whopping 11.5 ounces of meat, three scoops of rice and two scoops of mac salad. Best be off-the-Richter hungry, son! Continue reading Review: Hawaiian Time (Pearl District)

Review: California Pizza Kitchen (Bridgeport)

California Pizza Kitchen (Bridgeport Village)
7315 SW Bridgeport Road
Tigard, OR 97224
(Next to Regal Cinemas)
Map It!
503-968-0504
Hours: M-Th 11 a.m.-10 p.m., F-Sat 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Website | Twitter: @calpizzakitchen | Lunch Money: $$$
Rating: ★★★★☆

Pizza. It’s a fave food for people from one to 101 (well, if they have their teeth), and since 1985 California Pizza Kitchen—also branded CPK—has offered up a twist on the traditional Italian pie. You can still find your standard slices with pepperoni and Italian sausage topped with ooey-gooey mozzarella, but CPK is best known for their “creative” topping options.

Where was the first place we tried a Thai chicken pizza? The now closed CPK that was on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, DC. During college, where did we dig into our first Original BBQ chicken pizza? The Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto.

These days CPK’s menu is expansive, with pizzas like the vegetarian with Japanese eggplant, the pear and Gorgonzola, the California Club, the tostada and even the new habaneros carnitas pizza. But they’ve also moved beyond just the ‘za and added a variety of yummy appetizers and entrees that you won’t find at most pizza joints.

One of our favorite new things at CPK is the Small Cravings menu, which offers smaller-portioned appetizers at very reasonable prices (currently about $4-$6). It’s a perfect sized sampler—without going overboard—while you wait for your main meal. When we visited the Small Cravings menu offered everything from a Tuscan panzanella salad to a spicy chicken quesadilla.

Of course, if you aren’t in the mood for pizza, CPK also offers salad, pasta and sandwich entrees.

We started with the Korean BBQ steak tacos from the Small Cravings menu (two for $5.99) and they were delicious. Perfectly juicy and spicy, they were just right to tide our appetite until pizza time! Continue reading Review: California Pizza Kitchen (Bridgeport)

Review: Wong Kee Dim Sum CLOSED

Wong Kee Dim Sum Restaurant
28 NW 4th Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97209
503-229-1888
Map It!
Rating: ★★★★☆

Believe it or not, until a few weeks ago I’d never had dim sum. How could that be, you ask? Well, I don’t know. I frequently eat at the Chinese restaurants in Chinatown and many of them offer dim sum. Maybe it was an unexplainable fear of all those tin containers. How would I know I was picking the “right” thing to eat?

Then my friend Matt mentioned how amazing the dim sum is at Wong Kee—in fact, his entire family would occasionally drive all the way from Corvallis just to eat there when he was a kid. So I had to take him up on his offer to try it out.

I’ve had the regular menu at Wong Kee before, so I knew the food would be great, but I was very excited and delighted to try so many delicious dim sum treats all in one sitting. Continue reading Review: Wong Kee Dim Sum CLOSED

Review: Skyline Restaurant

Skyline Restaurant
1313 NW Skyline Boulevard
Portland, OR 97229
503-292-6727
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Rating: ★★★★½

Foodies around the world know the name James Beard, one of the most acclaimed American chefs of all time, so it’s a little odd to see a browned-with-age newspaper clipping framed on the wall at Skyline touting Beard’s professed devotion for this tiny retro diner’s burgers.

I happen to share Beard’s devotion to Skyline, and I have been visiting for more than two decades. Even though I don’t live as close as I did growing up, the food and atmosphere keep calling me back and Skyline never fails to satisfy.

Established in 1935, you would guess by looking at the former drive-in that very little has probably changed since the days when teenagers cruised up through the West Hills to enjoy some late-night hamburgers and milkshakes.

The drive-in service is gone, but the burgers and shakes survive. The dining area is a smattering of cozy booths and a handful of stools at the counter, all of which tend to fill up quickly during peak hours. The wood paneled walls are covered with children’s crayon drawings, mementos collected over their years in business and lots and lots of business cards (some pinned to the wall four or five deep). All of which add to the charm of this bygone-era establishment, but also take into account that their bygone-era approach means this is a cash only restaurant. (They do have an on-site ATM.)

The menu is plentiful and retains a definite diner feel with some modern upgrades (like the vegan black bean burger), but the main draw to Skyline is the burgers with their toasted, buttery buns. Continue reading Review: Skyline Restaurant

Review: Thai Food Café

Thai Food Café
833 N. Killingsworth Street
Portland, OR 97217
503-285-8745
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Rating: ★★★★½

Oh how I miss living in my old neighborhood. Not only did I live in the cutest of cute lil’ bungalow, but I was just a short walk or even shorter drive from all the hotspots of North and inner Northeast Portland. So when I got a tip that the relatively new Thai Food Café on North Killingsworth was ab fab, I knew it must be investigated.

Unfortunately, I somehow woke up to discover my left mandibular second molar (that’s one of those back teeth used for chewing) had slightly cracked in my sleep (how does that happen?). Regardless, I wanted some Thai food, cracked-tooth pain or not. (OK, OK, the tooth really isn’t that bad!)

I met up with my awesome friend Steph for a late lunch in the super-sunny dining room and we were immediately welcomed with cups of warm tea—perfect just coming in on a cold winter day. The hosts were incredibly nice and very attentive to our needs.

We were pleasantly surprised by the lunch specials. There are 15 lunch options, ranging from Pad Thai to curry dishes to stir fries that you can order with a meat, veggie or seafood selection. If you choose to add vegetables, tofu, chicken, pork or beef it’s just $6.50, if you want shrimp, squid or scallops it’s $8.00. They also offer soy meat and seafood options for veggie and vegan patrons at similar prices.

I went with Pra Ram with chicken and Steph tried the Pad Thai with chicken. Just after we ordered our entrees we were served a complimentary cup of delicious coconut soup. What a treat! It was creamy and full of flavor. Continue reading Review: Thai Food Café

Review: Fire on the Mountain (East Burnside)

Fire on the Mountain
1708 East Burnside
Portland, Oregon 97214
503-230-9464
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Rating: ★★★★½

Wings, oh, lovely wings! Who doesn’t love a great wings place, right? Sure, you could trek out to the lone Hooters left in Oregon at Jantzen Beach, but for a great local wings place, you really should visit Fire on the Mountain—which now has two locations. Not only are the wings great, but the selection of sauces is outstanding.

Portland was a little behind the wings trend for years and years, and Fire on the Mountain’s initial location on North Interstate was really the first GOOD wing-specializing place in town (seriously, you can’t count Hooters, puh-lease) when they opened up in 2005. The original location is teeny-tiny, so if you go be prepared to wait for a table or just order take-out. The new East Burnside location is larger and very airy, but it’s also known to fill up fast during lunchtime.

When you approach the counter to give your order, you can actually taste-test the sauces on small pieces of celery. This is a great way to try out any sauces you might usually be afraid to try on an entire order of wings, so go ahead, dip that celery stick in “El-Jefe” and let the burning sensation begin. Continue reading Review: Fire on the Mountain (East Burnside)