Burger Project – Red Coach

November 1, 2012

We’ve been at this project for almost a year now; it was last November when the Oregonian came out with their Ten Best Classic Burgers in Portland article. We’ve disagreed with many of their ratings. One of my issues is that Red Coach wasn’t even on the list! I come here with some of my team every couple of weeks and I wanted to get it in our list before we wrap things up. If this isn’t a classic burger joint I don’t know what is.
Red Coach is on Broadway 1 block north of Nordstrom in the heart of the shopping district. Ray couldn’t make it today so it was Jay, John, Norm and me.
I drive down the Sunset Highway every weekday to get to work. I’ve been admiring the colors and wishing I could get a picture; not practical while driving. But Jay was driving today and I could snap to my heart’s content
Late Fall colors driving down Sylvan Hill into downtown.

One of Portland’s unofficial mottos is “Keep Portland Weird”.  As we walked up the South Park Blocks we saw a splendid example.

Keeping Portland Weird

John, Norm, and Jay ready to head in

Red Coach is hopping on weekdays with the business crowd; but not so much on weekends. The top is closed and the grill is lightly used.

The grill is ready.
A brief note about today’s pictures. I recently purchased a 35mm f1.8 prime lens for my Sony Alpha A55. I got it to get good close up pictures and the wide 1.8 aperture means great focus on my subject with blurring of the background. As you will see in the pictures I have some learning to do. I left it open at 1.8 and as a result had a very short depth of field.  For example, in this picture you’ll see the booth backs in the mid distance are in focus but not the waitress or patron. I’ve got some work in front of me.
The other customer. The young woman is our usual waitress when we come in on weekdays.
Ray, the owner; a real nice guy

The boys. 

Hard ice cream shakes! I think this is the only place we’ve been to on our quest that has true hard ice cream milk shakes.

Yum! Better use of the new lens. Nice focus on the glass; everything else is blurry

John performing the spoon test. It passed with flying colors!
John’s in focus but I missed the glass. I should have closed down the f-stop
Lunch is served. Delicious hamburger. These aren’t fresh-cut fries but they were nice and hot.

Top center of the bun in perfect focus. But the front is blurry. That’s a shallow depth-of-field at 1.8


You’ll see in the ratings and comments why it’s good to have a group do the rating. I think we have the widest disparity of scores this week. I loved it; Jay liked it a lot. John thought it was pretty good; but Norm was unimpressed. You may want to discount my score since this is my regular burger joint.


Burger (Karl’s Classic Cheeseburger with Bacon except Norm)

I love these hamburgers. The bun is nice and soft with a perfect toasted underside. The American cheese is good quality; the bacon is perfectly cooked.

The burger was tasty and nicely cooked with fresh lettuce and tomato. The bacon and cheese were perfect.

Norm (Cheeseburger)
Pretty much average all the way. Pretty standard very flat and somewhat dry patty. Bun average. Basic cheese. Add your own condiments. About like something you’d get at a cafeteria or buffet place.

Bun was fresh, not over-sized as some can be; patty was cooked medium,still pretty juicy; The bacon was perfect – lean, crisp but not crunchy, and it was flat so it fit nicely on top.(bonus points). Whole, not shredded, lettuce, tomato, sauce, no onion. The cheese was good and melted – american, I think. All in all a very good burger.

Side – French Fries

Crinkle cut. Nice and hot.

The frozen fries were served very hot and complemented the burger.

These fries were probably out of a box made by an Ore-Ida wannabe. Ok but very average

Good fries. ‘krinkle’ type. cooked, not mushy. Could have been a bit crispier.

Drink (Chocolate shakes except for Norm)

Hard ice cream shakes! Yummy

This real ice cream shake was perfect. The chocolate syrup on the sides of the full glass was a perfect presentation.

Norm (Coke)
It’s coke

Real ice cream, served in a glass. This place drizzles chocolate syrup around the inside of the glass along with the regular dose.Nice touch. Pretty thick consistency. I love the chocolate, so it can always be more so. Good shake.


Nice booths. It’s a little on the dark side, which is fine but the darkness takes a smidge away from my ideal burger joint.

The surrounding were very comfortable and well appointed. The device was prompt and accurate.

Downtown lunch joint on a saturday. It was deserted except for us and the help…. and a woman who arrived about halfway through our meal. Everthing appeared to be clean and well maintained. $9.75 for the coke and burger was a bit pricey.

This is an older restaurant in downtown Portland serving a variety of fare. Not just a burger joint. Decor is nothing fancy but pleasant. Big, overstuffed ‘pleather’ seating was pretty comfortable. Nice place.


I eat here every couple of weeks and love the owners and their daughter. They know me and are always pleasant, prompt, and courteous.

We received more attention than we deserved. I think we shouldn’t tell them what we’re up to.

About halfway between average and pretty darn good. Guy who took our order was friendly, probably the manager. Had two waitresses working for him and one was very chatty. Personable, yes. but the service was still a 3.5

Since we were virtually the only ones in there, we had their full attention. The owners took good care of us. Friendly and chatty.


For me; it’s Red Coach and Dee’s In ‘n Out as the best burger places in Portland so far.

The Red Coach puts it all together – a great burger with great service and attention to detail.

OK place to go and have lunch during a workday. But don’t expect much out of the burger.

The fries were good, the shake was better, and the burger was better yet. I would go there again. Nice place, good service, and as for our burger research, better than average food.

3 thoughts on “Burger Project – Red Coach

  1. Jason and I took your advice and ate there today! It was Jason's idea. The chocolate malt was my favorite – WOW!

    Mike Matney

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