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SEA/PDX Burger Throwdown, Part 1

Two Pacific Northwest cities. Three burgers in three categories. Only one can be victorious!
First round: Diners, Drive-Ins and Divers – Dick’s Drive-In (SEA) vs Red Coach Restaurant (PDX)


Dick’s Drive-In – Capitol Hill neighborhood

Back in November, I had the pleasure of visiting Seattle for the first time. I was told I couldn’t leave the city without eating at Dick’s Drive-In, a burger institution since 1954. With their simple menu of 100% fresh burgers hamburgers, cheeseburgers, a special (lettuce, mayo & chopped pickles) and the deluxe (a 1/4 lb version of the special with cheese), it seemed like the logical choice. Further motivation was the fact that it was right around the corner from my hotel. Catering to the hungry and drunk alike, Dick’s prepared all their burgers and wraps them in advance to stave off long lines and crowds. They also have fresh, hand-cut fries and, as both a nod to environmental friendliness and taste satisfaction, charges 5 cents a cup per condiment; reason being that everything tastes better dipping into a cup instead of out of a foil packet. I grabbed a Deluxe and fries and was not disappointed.

On this trip I knew we’d be stopping at Dick’s no matter what. That “no matter what” happened to be at 11:30 AM right after eating brunch and fro-yo. I opted for the Special this time since I wasn’t sure if I could fit any more food inside me. Despite being stuff, the first bite brought back all the nostalgia of my first Seattle trip. It was just a simple, no-nonsense burger – and it certainly wasn’t hyped up to be the “best burger you’ve ever had” – but it was 100x better then any other fast food burger you could think of. (And at $1.80, you’re not breaking the bank either.)


Just a 2 & 1/2 hour train ride away from Seattle was Portland, “the Rose City”. Their long standing burger institution is the Red Coach Restaurant, family owned for over 50 years and through three generations. While this isn’t their original location, they still manage to channel 50’s diner vibes with vinyl booth seats and a dining counter in their current space in Downtown Portland, location inside the lobby of the Historic Charles F. Berg Building. A “blink & you’ll miss it” sandwich board out front indicates their presence and a neon sign above the doorway warmly welcomes you inside. All their burgers are made with free-range beef from Montana with no hormones added (How ‘Portlandia’, right?) and served on a soft, kaiser bun.

(Photo credit:

I opted for the Classic Karl’s special: cheese burger, fries and a drink. The burger had that perfect little bit of grease without being too heavy, but a sign that it came off a well-seasoned grill. And you could just tell that the meat was very fresh and not just some ground chuck blend from your typical greasy spoon.

So who’s the winner in this round?

Hands down, Red Coach takes the gold medal! It was just leaps & bounds above Dick’s slightly overcooked, dried out fast food patties. (A result of leaving them laying around ready-to-go) There’s a reason people go to Dick’s when they’re drunk; it’s the perfect food to shove in your face at 2 AM when you’re looking to soak up alcohol. But if you’re looking to satisfy your appetite, then Red Coach is the place to go.

About A Side of Ketchup

I'm just a girl, standing in front of some food, and then shoving it into my face. Eating everything that comes across my path and then sharing my thoughts with the masses. Email me at asideofketchup[at]

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