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

Photo Gallery: Cosmic Soda Pop & Candy Shop

Cosmic Soda Pop & Candy Shop
(formerly Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop)
817 SE 34th Avenue (between Belmont and Morrison)
Portland, Oregon 97214
Map It!
Ph: 503-894-8980
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Website | Facebook | Twitter
Candy money: $$
Rating: ★★★★½

With more than 200 varieties of unique and hard-to-find bottled sodas, more retro candy than you could ever desire, a counter-service soda fountain with floats, malts, shakes and egg creams, how could you go wrong?!

Also, did I mention the shrine to Portland icon “Ramblin’ Rod” (the charismatic hero to children growing up in PDX from the ‘70s to the ‘90s*)?

Seriously, what could be more fun than that??!!

Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop, which opened in January in the Belmont Dairy Building, offers a convenient trip back to your childhood and a place for modern kids to explore some sweet treats from the past.

There’s free Wi-Fi and lots of space to peruse the products or simply sit, relax and enjoy a fountain drink.

This is a great place to stop on a rainy afternoon or a cool destination for a weekend bike ride…or just pop in anytime you are looking for some fun!

My only complaint is that I found TOO much candy I wanted to buy, and they don’t currently seem to offer baskets to carry around as you explore the store—but you can stash your growing candy pile at the counter while you shop.

[*Note: I was a Ramblin’ Rod Smile Contest winner, but my sugar-conscious mother never let me drink the Pop Shoppe grape soda I received as my prize. I guess I can have all the Pop Shoppe grape soda I want now!! Take that, Mom! ☺]

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)

Video: Yelp’s Party at OMSI for Game On 2.0

We got invited to attend Yelp’s party at OMSI to celebrate the Game On 2.0 exhibit on Saturday, September 17. Although it was crazy-crowded, we had a great time checking out all that the museum has to offer…as well as all the yummy free snacks and (adult) beverages. Great party, OMSI and Yelp! Check out all the action (or at least most of it as our camera battery unexpectedly died)!! CHEERS!

Review: Fire on the Mountain (East Burnside)

Fire on the Mountain
1708 East Burnside
Portland, Oregon 97214
503-230-9464
Map It!
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)

Review: No Fish! Go Fish!

No Fish! Go Fish!
3962 SE Hawthorne Boulevard
Portland, Oregon 97214
503-235-5378
Map It!
Rating: ★★★★☆

I woke up today feeling a little under the weather, but I managed to make it to my lunch appointment with friends at No Fish! Go Fish! Lucky for me the restaurant specializes in comfort food like soup and stuffed sandwiches—and no, despite the name, it’s not a fish place.

The soup menu actually changes daily. Today’s selections were cream of basil, potato with roasted peppers, lentil and black bean minestrone. If you are headed to the restaurant or the food cart location (located at 5th and Yamhill downtown) you can check out their daily menu at their Web site.

If soup isn’t what you’re in the mood for, their cute fish-shaped stuffed sandwiches should satisfy whatever you are craving. From turkey and cheese to the more creative refried bean with pico de gallo, the fish-shaped sandwiches kind of reminded me of healthy and hearty homegrown Hot Pockets. The sandwiches also come in desert versions, like chocolate with banana and apple cinnamon. Continue reading Review: No Fish! Go Fish!

Review: Pastini Pastaria

pastini1.gif

Pastini Pastaria
(Six locations in the Portland area)
Map It!
Rating: ★★★½☆

pastini3.gif  pastini4.gif  pastini5.gif

Pastini Pastaria is pretty much my go-to spot for any sort of family or friend function that entails a large group going out to a restaurant. Sure, some people might consider it Portland’s local version of Olive Garden, but the food is consistently good (even if it is a little on the bland side) and there is something on the menu for everyone-even those picky eaters and vegetarians.

What I love about Pastini is that they offer an excellent variety of pasta, from capellini to ziti and everything in between! They even offer whole wheat pasta, which is typically what I order. They have just about every combination of delectable pasta dishes, from the simple spaghetti agli e olio (the classic with sautéed garlic, olive oil, basil and parmesan) to the more decedent baked manicotti (filled with beef, pork, ricotta and spinach, then baked with alfredo sauce and marinara). All pasta dishes are served with the equally delicious ciabatta bread from Pearl Bakery. Continue reading Review: Pastini Pastaria

Review: Pine State Biscuits

pinestate1.gif  pinestate2.gif

Pine State Biscuits
3640 SE Belmont Street
Portland, Oregon 97214
(503) 236-3346
Map It!
Rating: ★★★★☆

pinestate3.gif  pinestate4.gif  pinestate5.gif

Who doesn’t love warm flaky biscuits? I certainly do, and one of my favorite meals of all time is biscuits and gravy. So when I heard about Pine State Biscuits, I knew I had to try it out.

When we arrived there was a line stretching all the way out the front door. It was a very warm sunny day, so the short wait to order wasn’t a problem. The restaurant is teeny-tiny, so most people were ordering to go. But we were brave and opted to eat there, hoping a table would free up before we got our food. Luckily we were able to snag the only four-person table there-be warned that there are only three tables and a small counter with stools. Take-out is going to be your best bet if you go during peak eating hours.

I was tempted by everything on their small menu, but opted for the McIsley ($6), a biscuit sandwich with fried chicken, pickles, mustard and honey. I was completely satisfied with my choice. The chicken was moist and the combination was delicious. My only complaint (and one of my lunch companions agreed) was that the biscuits were a little on the dry side. Continue reading Review: Pine State Biscuits

HH Review: The Sapphire Hotel

sapphire_1.gif

Sapphire Hotel
5008 SE Hawthorne Boulevard
Portland, OR
503-232-6333
**Opens at 4 p.m.
Map It!

Rating: ★★★★★

sapphire_3.gif sapphire_2.gif

Dark, candlelit and romantic, Sapphire Hotel is both a terrific place for a date or gathering with friends for happy hour. It’s an especially nice place to duck into on one of those long, rainy Stumptown winter afternoons, when you have some free time and you’re looking for a hearty snack and a good drink.

Tucked away on the east end of SE Hawthorne, Sapphire isn’t open for lunch (they SO should be!), but the happy hour is worth taking a late lunch and calling it an early workday. Happy hour runs everyday of the week from 4 to 6 p.m., and then picks up again from 10 p.m. to midnight (Sunday thru Thursday). Continue reading HH Review: The Sapphire Hotel