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Previous story Smash burgers are everywhere now; 2 new Portland carts make 2 of our favorites: Takeout Diaries Next story
  Foods   Dining Out  

Story by Michael Russell - Story Source
Published on Wednesday March 17, 2021 - 3:50 AM

Rico Loverde thought he had a grasp on the smash burger competition when he opened his new food cart, Monster Smash, at 4500 S.E. Stark St. last month. He knew of just one other place taking a trained chef's approach to the classic burger style: Nob Hill's year-old Farmer & The Beast, miles away in Northwest Portland.

"And then literally two weeks before we opened, Mid City opened just down the street," Loverde said, referring to another new smash burger cart, also on Stark. "My timing is never right."

Well, yes and no.

Let's start with the bad news for Loverde: The competition is actually stiffer than he first realized. Over the past five years, at least 25 food carts, pop-ups and restaurants have started serving smash burgers -- literally, burgers made from meat smashed directly on a flat-top grill. At least five of those spots opened in the past two months.

But there's good news, too: Portland's love for these thin, crispy, throwback burgers doesn't seem to be going anywhere. And in Loverde's case, the timing could end up being just right: Belmont Station, the craft beer bar next door, started pouring beers again March 1, just a few weeks after Monster Smash debuted.

Here we'll take a look at two new smash burger food carts, Monster Smash and Mid City Smash Burger. The three other newbies are chef Carlo Lamagna's thick and juicy Filipino-influenced double smash burger at Bit House Collective; former Holdfast Dining chef Will Preisch's new monthly pop-up at Abbey Road Farm in Carlton; and Yes, Please, a pop-up known for its house-made American cheese most recently spotted at Haleakala, a community kitchen at 2816 N.E. Halsey St. But first, a programming note: Later this month, we plan to publish a comprehensive guide to the best smash burgers found throughout the Portland area. Stay tuned.