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On the recommendation of friends, I stopped at the unassuming Killer Burger on NE Sandy during their happy hour, which offers one of their well-regarded burgers at half off ($4.50, includes fries). I ordered two: the Classic (a version of a bacon cheeseburger, with the usual vegetables and house sauce) and the curious Peanut Butter Burger. Peanut butter sounded like a goofy novelty, but it often pays dividends to gamble against reason, I thought. How else would we have come up with bicameral congress, or the cartwheel?

After a sizzly little wait while the hand-formed 1/3-pound patties—pink like the flesh of a strawberry—were squashed on the griddle, ragged and happy, my baskets arrived. Frozen fries are often more successful than house-made, thanks to the onward march of rheology and the J.R. Simplot Company, and these were a fragrant, golden example of the former. Three-eighths of an inch thick and textbook harvest yellow, crisp with a soufflé-light interior, they snapped rather than bent, and were so fresh from the oil that the retreating sheen of it easily held a second salting.

From the first bite the aptly named Classic landed me squarely back at that old roadhouse counter, caught entirely off guard by its archetypal perfection. The hand of the master—who here has designed a worthy iconic American hamburger, and not some britches-bursting gourmet version, piled high with weeping beets and flecks of gold—was present in everything from the beautifully integrated bacon, to the chop and tenderness of the humble iceberg, to the pickle, which was a corrugated plank rather than a spear or chip so that it complemented the numerous other traction-seeking ingredients. The imploding division between patty and bacon and cheese, like the cloud that rises over a just-collapsed structure, was transporting bliss.

Burgers are generally $7.95, and include American cheese and bacon unless otherwise specified. Beverages are cheap beer, expensive beer, and soda. Happy hour (Mon-Fri 2-5 pm) makes this quality meal cheaper than Burger King.

-CHRIS ONSTAD

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