There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of Dick’s Kitchen on Belmont yet, but that’s probably only because they’re cautiously debuting their distinctive, local burgers and sides with a quiet “soft opening.” Soft opening or not, the quality food at Dick’s is already hitting home runs with many southeast Portland residents. In fact, it seems that this diner, serving as much buffalo as it does tempeh, already has regulars frequenting the “not-fries,” milkshakes, and various burgers. When I tried Dick’s on a Monday night, one woman sat with her family near the window and said to the waitress, “I’m not gonna do my usual tonight, but file it away for next time.” At the table next to us, another woman asked the waitress, “You get to eat here every night, so why can’t we?”
This burger joint that first opened its doors late last month is just the kind of place that would have regulars ordering too much greasy food for their own good. At Dick’s, however, the food isn’t greasy and eating it is definitely good for you.
As vegetarians, my dining companion and I each indulged in the vegan BBQ tempeh “burger” ($6.75), complete with housemade pickles and pickled onions, fresh red tomatoes and lots of finger-lickin’ sauce. The double-stacked marinated and grilled organic patties that come from Eugene’s own Surata Soyfoods were happily running over with chunks of beans, grains and sweet/peppery BBQ sauce.
Instead of the coleslaw that comes with each burger (which I have sampled, and — as someone who detests the dish – found surprisingly fresh and non-mayo-y), we tried the air baked fingerling potato “not-fries” and sweet potato “not-fries” ($2.50 and $3 to add to a burger, respectively), along with housemade tomato chutney and chipotle aioli. Dick’s take on the traditional French fry is certainly something to be applauded — both regular and sweet potatoes alike look (and taste) good when they’re not bogged down by fry grease. The insides were satisfyingly fluffy, even if the outsides were a little too well done.
Besides tempeh, Dick’s serves grass-fed beef in all of its more traditional burgers, which boast toppings like pimento cheese, uncured bacon, and persillade ($7.00 to $8.75). The well-lit, open kitchen also delivers impressive-looking four-ounce turkey, salmon and buffalo patties. For those who don’t prefer burgers, there are Italian sausages (both genuine meat and vegan alike), a grilled chicken breast sandwich, salads (like the intriguing dinosaur kale chop), and the next menu item on my list to try — the highly-recommended tempeh Reuben.
Dick’s Kitchen’s big grand opening is happening Friday, August 27, when they’ll be serving specially priced sliders, local microbrews and wine.
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