I never thought Smallwares, at NE 46th and Fremont, would get into the Burger Week fray, but once they did I knew Johanna Ware would deliver a killer. I think she’s been holding back for years, because she knew once she put her signature style on a burger, she’d instantly be hounded to start a chain that features this and only this creation.

Smallwares Burger Week work of art.

Any axis you spin the Smallwares $5 burger on—flavor, texture, intensity—it’s an A+. The charred, juicy beef patty, griddled in bacon fat, sits in a tender potato bun with crispy fried shallots, melted Swiss, fresh tomato, shredded iceberg, shiso, cilantro, and a Smallwares-esque mayonnaise-based secret sauce tuned up with Serrano chilies, chopped pickle, ginger, and seven leagues of umami.

Don’t let the height intimidate you — she’s a pro, and like the rest of her menu, the food eats beautifully and cleanly. It’s not a slippery, jaw-dislocating stack, but a tidy package that compresses in unison and delivers big, complex flavors in every bite. It’s a full-size burger, but you may want two.

Support these hard-working kitchens, and treat yourself right—don’t forget sides and drinks!

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Read all the Burger Week details here!

The Portland Mercury would like to thank our partners once again this year, world-class meat provider Nicky USA, Widmer Brothers Brewing, and Jim Beam Kentucky Fire!

Important reminder: THESE BURGERS WILL SELL OUT. Last year’s restaurants had one main issue with the event last year, and that was people getting angry and rude when they found out that they are part of a reality where restaurants that are getting slammed run out of food. We have better forecasting numbers this year, but please: go early, be kind, get a drink, and, most importantly, a $5 burger is a privilege, not a right. You know what someone who acts like a horse’s ass is? Hint: It has two enormous buttocks and large poops fall out of the middle.