A Burger by Any Other Name

Studio JFish’s Burger Lover’s Zine

What’s in a burger? That question would appear to be more complicated than you think. Since moving to Portland, one of the things that definitely stands out as a plus, is the quality of the food. Maybe cause everyone’s a lazy son of a bitch, so they got a lot of time to just eat and shit around, things like “brunch” (just breakfast, but spelled with an -unch), but i’m only a hater when there’s something extremely minutely offensive to me, otherwise I’m a very sweet, loving dude, and I’ve gotta give props to Portland for its food quality. In particular, its burgers.

What makes a burger a good burger? First, one must understand what a burger is. I’m a burger conservative, a burger Republican, a burger bigot perhaps? I only accept one definition of a burger, and that means a ground meat patty on a bun, very often a beef patty, but occasionally other animals may be ground up for our pleasure. Black bean burger? Not a burger. Chicken Breast on a bun? Not a burger. Veggie burger? Not a burger. Slice of Cheese on a bun? Not a burger. Some aluminum foil in the shape of a patty? Not a burger. A burger without a bun? That’s just a fucking beef patty. If it ain’t meat though, its just a vegetarian’s regrets. I don’t want their seasoning of tears, a special sauce of guilt. Not surprisingly, this attitude does not go over well in Portland, which has a large population of foodies who eat like they’re filling out a local OkCupid Profile – genderqueer, pansexual vegan all-bean patty on a gluten-free kale “bun.”

Once you settle on a definition though, there’s still a lot of disagreement on what makes a good burger. People have lots of expectations when they have a burger, and not all burgers are equal. Comparing one burger to another is often as different as comparing apples to oranges (no, those aren’t burgers either). Instead of ranking what is the best burger in Portland, I’d rather tell you what some of my favorite burgers are, and what sets them apart. Lists are good for quick reads on Buzzfeed, but it creates a ranking that is artificially imposed on flavor. Some people just don’t like how something tastes, you can’t argue with that. But i can help you find what you might think tastes good, with this simple Burger Formula:

Flavor + Price + Size + Restaurant Style = YOUR BURGER!

Every burger can be evaluated using those characteristics. Flavor is the hardest to pin down, but not always the most important consideration. What’s often overlooked is the restaurant itself. If you went to Foot Locker, and asked for a snakeskin shiny leather running shoe, I doubt you’d find it. Often, Fast Food burgers are completely ignored when speaking about burgers, completely forgetting that the Fast Food burger has carved out a useful and beneficial niche in the burger-ecosystem. McDonald’s “over a billion served” didn’t just feed a billion rats. That was 1/7th of the planet, and you (yes, you!) probably ate one and enjoyed it. Don’t be a snob, and be one of those “I don’t even own a TV” and then steal your friend’s Netflix account along with their fries. Fast Food Burgers exist alongside three other types of burgers:

  • Sit Down Restaurant – this may be anything from a diner to a 4-star fancy spot
  • Burger Joints – a dedicated burger establishment. Often nothing else on their menu but burgers.
  • Bars

These restaurant styles have considerable overlap. Many Burger Joints are also Fast Food restaurants and you must go up to a counter to order, i.e. Burgerville. But some may be mixed with a bar, such as Killer Burger. And not all Bar burgers are Burger Joints, such as Pause and SlowBar. Each one has merits and each one has drawbacks. Today, I will go over a new favorite burger of mine –

Boogie’s Burger and Brew

910 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214

photo (1)

Boogie’s is a Burger Joint. There’s a bar, but I didn’t see it when I ate there. I ate this burger with a pal, which usually keeps me from really thinking about the burger. But this is a burger buddy of mine, so we had a chance to discuss the beef. I always try to order the same thing when I eat a new burger. A single or double patty (depending on the size of a single patty), with the standard toppings minus any mayo, mustard or ketchup, but i do not remove “special sauce.” I also frequently add bacon.

Bacon, in my opinion, is almost as important as the cheese on a burger. Almost, because I couldn’t even contemplate eating a burger without cheese. On occasion I have, but I find that to be insanity. But bacon is such a perfect complement to a well-cooked burger that if you’re thinking “I dunno, maybe i shouldn’t,” then maybe you shouldn’t be shoving dead cow cooking in its own fat down your gullet. Just get out. A few places don’t have bacon on their menu, one in particular is In-N-Out Burger of California. Often a burger-fan-favorite, because of it’s “secret” menu, I find that I’d trade a novelty menu for a god damn piece of bacon any fucking day in that restaurant. In-N-Out isn’t a bad-tasting burger, but it’s definitely one of those “cool” burgers people always take instagram pics of and then hashtag it #animalstyle or whatever the fuck they call it.

Anyway, back to Boogie. I got the Double Boogie with bacon and cheese. BURGER FORMULA, ACTIVATE!:

Flavor – Excellent, gots that homestyle BBQ flavor. A lot of burgers just never taste like how you make at home, you can’t ever know what their recipe includes. A lot of burgers use a mix of seasoning, some use a mix of different cuts of beef, some just use salt & pepper. This burger had a dude-who-fixes-trucks flavor. The cheese was white American, and i don’t like white American, purely for aesthetic reasons, but i think one more slice would’ve been slice. I like my burgers very cheesy, and the flavor of the beef was definitely in the front with this burger. But that was made up for with perfect slices of bacon. Crispy and chewy, you don’t gotta choose here. Like going out on a date with a woman shaped like the number 8. Turn it sideways for infinite impressiveness.

Price – The average price of a burger is about $10. Even at a fast food joint (which often have lower prices), you’ll often be paying anywhere from $5 to $9. Higher than $11 for a standard burger — no cheese, no bacon, just beef, bun and greens — is what I’d consider pricey. For $7.25 + $1.50 for bacon & cheese, Boogie’s is very affordable. The interiors of the spot are spartan, but they got a jukebox playing some sweet country tunes, so if you got a partner who is down to earth, and likes some John Denver, then you got yourself a date! Otherwise, you gotta tell that bougie b’ to BOOGIE on out to somewhere else.

Size – Two beef patties had a total height of a little less than an inch. So a single patty is pretty thin. For those of you who don’t like a mouthful of meat, or aren’t super hungry, it’s a good size, along with it’s fluffy flakey-crust bun. The bacon were two substantial pieces as well, so you’re not getting ripped off.

What’s the verdict for this burger? For the very affordable cost, you get a burger that tastes like it costs a few bucks more, and you leave definitely satisfied. What might sweeten the deal? Fries and a milkshake, of course! Fries are often the secret tipping point of a good burger spot. If you got shitty fries, it means I’ll often take my business elsewhere. Burgers & Fries are like TV and cuddles! You can do one without the other, but it just feels lonely. Boogie Burger’s got McDonald’s style fries. Thin, Crispy, with a few soggy ones (I like the soggy ones) and a light sprinkle of salt. I loved them. The Milkshake was on point, only vanilla unfortunately, but it wasn’t so thick that you’re sitting there looking like a real life Tropicana Orange Juice ad. It sucks, I’ve tried to stick a straw in an orange as a kid, and that dream was not juicy.

Overall, a good burger joint burger that you could eat often for lunch.