Oregon is home to a lot of restaurants, bars, wineries, and breweries, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Portlanders just aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's many food players to share their under-the-radar recommendations for a weekly feature dubbed Dining Confidential.
Image of Burgerville's MLK location courtesy Alex W. via Yelp
As a former food magazine editor and Paris-trained chef, Martha Holmberg is no stranger to good chow, between test-kitchen tasting at Fine Cooking magazine, FoodDay, and MIX—her former editorial stomping grounds. These days, Holmberg's spending a lot of time in her own kitchen, writing her own cookbooks while working as culinary content director for Watershed Communications. When Holmberg wants a change from her own cooking, though, she often heads to a guilty-pleasure spot that, according to her, is hiding in plain sight. "I wish I had some exotic hole-in-the-wall to share, or some major confession like I eat a dozen glazed from Winchell's Donuts on Lombard or something, but my go-to fave is a simple cliche: I like Burgerville."
My favorite location is the glamorous Burgerville on MLK by the Convention Center. I know it's called Burgerville, but 90 percent of the time I get the halibut and chips, not a burger. I don't know what they put in that batter, but it is so delicious and crunchy, doesn't feel greasy, and the fish inside is really and truly fish as it came from the ocean, not fish in composite form. You get a nice big wedge of fresh lemon and decent tartar sauce. The fries are sort of incidental to me — not that great, and by the time I'm finished with the three pieces of halibut, I'm full. Er, not too full to work my way through a seasonal milkshake, though. Strawberry and chocolate hazelnut are my favorites. And honestly, the smoothie option — which has a lot fewer calories — is luscious as well. I'm not sure how I feel about the calorie count on each receipt — especially with that milkshake thrown in, it can be a little shocking [Editor's note: Calories for Burgerville milkshakes vary between 560-1,360]. I usually just think to myself, 'My, what a hearty meal I've had,' and carry on.