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Hamburger Helper

Beef 'n' Buns = Tons of Fun

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choose your own adventure

Fighting has never been your strong suit, and with six terrifying ninjas surrounding you, you decide that now isn't the time to work on your technique. Raising your hands in a gesture of goodwill, you flex your ambassador skills.

"Hey guys, it's cool," you say to the ninjas, each one quivering in a rhythmic, silent dance of deathly anticipation. "See, I didn't mean to get in your shit; I was just kind of time traveling because I'm hunting a saber-toothed... well, okay, see there's this drunk guy named Smitty, and he has a hook for a hand... What I mean is that I met Mayor Tom Potter in this time portal trying to find a saber-toothed tiger...." You trail off in despair, lowering your hands. The head ninja advances menacingly. You await your imminent death.

But rather than decapitate you with a single swipe of his sword, the head ninja speaks:

"You and Smitty... tomodachi?" he says.

"Uh, sure?" you reply, playing along.

"Hai! Smitty sent us to track down heart, too! Gave us plot-hole-ridden story about saving cats by getting heart of saber-toothed tiger." The head ninja turns, beckoning with one hand. Another ninja steps forward, holding up his sword. Impaled on the end of it, blood dripping, is a saber-toothed tiger heart.

"You got one!" you yell.

"Hai," says the head ninja, extending one hand towards you. "So desu ne. And if you would like, you may take it back to Smitty for us, to help save the neko."

"Save the what?"

"Kitties. Neko Japanese for 'kitties.'"

If you trust the head ninja and want to accept his offer to take the heart to Smitty click here.

If you don't trust that ninja star-hurling faker and want to try to fight your way out of this weird situation click here.

To go back, click here.

We know what you're thinking: "What the hell is there left to say about the hamburger?" Well, nothing, Cap'n Snarky Pants, EXCEPT this: The hamburger is an unavoidable part of your God-given American consciousness, and no matter how many linguini dishes, wine bars, oxtail stews, and other creative culinary enterprises we try to tell you about, your stomach will, at some point, start hankerin' for that sweet, sweet beefcake. Here are some burger joints you may not have tried yet, for when you revert back to your true self. Snob.

Carafe

200 SW Market, 248-0004

The French-themed Carafe is a little hidden jewel in a rather strip mall-looking stretch of commerce right across the street from the Keller Auditorium. It's got a bustling yet comfortable atmosphere, a killer bar, the requisite croque madame sandwich, and a burger that will absolutely destroy you. I'm not entirely sure what they do to their jaw-crackingly thick beef patties, but the divine juice that spews forth when they are bitten into is unreal. JUSTIN W. SANDERS

Stanich's

4915 NE Fremont, 281-2322

I'd heard this place was "the best" for burgers, but when my patty melt came drenched in Swiss cheese, I couldn't tell whether the meat was any good or not. Stanich's "special" burger masks the taste of the beef with a pile of ham, bacon, cheese, egg, mayo, lettuce, and tomato so the burger gets lost in the shuffle. I'm a person who likes a big mouthful of juicy beef with my burger, so Stanich's isn't really my spot, but if you're a tons-o-fixin's kind of person, then head here for good, artery-clogging food and friendly service. KATIE SHIMER

Higgins

1239 SW Broadway, 222-9070

From my discussions with ground beef connoisseurs in and around Portland, the Higgins burger is apparently a very controversial one. Simply put, you love it or you hate it. Me: I love it. It is a healthy chunk of ground sirloin with a juicy, chewy texture and spices that roll across your tongue. The beef itself is the star of the show, and because the burger is served with a salad instead of fries, your taste buds give it their undivided attention. Another side note: The Higgins burger is listed on the menu as a "broiled sirloin sandwich," so don't be deterred by the fancy-pants jargon. It's a burger and a damn fine one. KYLE LARSON

Slow Bar

533 SE Grand, 230-7767

A great burger is often the measure of a great restaurant, and while Slow Bar is more bar than restaurant, it has outstanding restaurant-quality food—and one amazing burger. Made with a big, luscious Painted Hills beef patty, strong English cheddar, fresh and fanciful tomatoes, and an onion ring on top, this is like the Salma Hayek-on-Oscar-night of burgers. Along with your gourmet beef-wich comes a fresh and tasty salad sprinkled with hazelnuts, or a pile of crispy fries. Beyond the burger, the menu has a host of other delicious items, including homemade soups, a daily pasta special, fondue, tempura, super-fresh ceviche, and more tasty items based on the whims of the kitchen. KS

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