How a Cult Burger Joint is Shaking up Portland’s Food Scene

There’s no burger quite like Stoopid Burger, a lines-out-the-door sensation.
Blue Chalk Media,  Photographer
August 26, 2019
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In a city with a world-renowned doughnut shop famous for its over-the-top decorations and flavor combos, it’s only fitting that Portland is also home to one of the tallest burgers in the country. 

Stacked more than a foot high and built out of a trio of patties and cheeses, as well as bacon, ham, hot links, two eggs, steak, grilled onions, mushrooms, jalapenos, pineapple-mango-habanero chutney and an onion ring — before a chicken strip or fried-fish topper — the $40 Ignorant Burger is a mammoth, triple-decker, best-shared-with-friends pièce de résistance of Northeast Portland’s five-year-old Stoopid Burger

“I always say that Stoopid Burger is the Voodoo of hamburgers,” co-owner Danny Moore tells me. “You’ve got Voodoo Doughnut, which is like the craziest doughnuts around town … and [people] are stuck on the Voodoo, so we’re trying to do that with Stoopid Burger.”

Started in 2014 as a bright yellow North Portland food cart by Portland natives John Hunt and Moore, Stoopid Burger has grown into a must-visit brick-and-mortar burger joint famous for its wacky and addicting burger creations and the owners’ community-oriented mindset. 

Burgers With Soul

Not all of Stoopid’s burgers require a fork and knife to take down. There’s the eponymous Stoopid Burger, topped with cheddar, bacon, ham, a hot link and an egg, which was voted best in the city in The Oregonian in 2016. The Wicked Burger arrives with cheddar, bacon, pineapple-mango-habanero chutney and peanut butter. And the Stoopenduz Burger, in addition to the Swiss cheese and chopped bacon tossed in barbecue  or teriyaki sauce, comes with fried mozzarella sticks. Or if you’re feeling particularly straightforward, you can still order a bacon cheeseburger.

Our spot is like a soul-food burger,” Hunt says. “We got burgers with mozzarella sticks on it, we have burgers with actual steak, and we’ve got a burger coming with pulled pork. You basically get a full meal on top of a hamburger. And we take a lot of pride in what we do and the creativity behind it.” 

Stoopid is one of the city’s true homegrown sensations — proudly Black-owned and one of the dozens of Black-owned restaurants participating in Support Black-Owned Restaurants Week (Aug. 26-Sept.1, 2019). 

 

Both Hunt and Moore were born and raised in North/Northeast Portland, where they started cooking as kids at home and at family barbecues. Moore worked for years at fast-food restaurants, which gave him format basics for large-scale production before later attending Western Culinary Institute. Hunt was brought up around cooking thanks to his dad, who ran a restaurant in the 1970s. 

Moore and Hunt had mutual friends as teenagers but didn’t become close until their 20s, when they worked together at Buffalo Wild Wings. The duo spent two years there, slowly hatching their plan to launch Stoopid Burger. 

The road to this success for both Hunt and Moore hasn’t been easy. They had limited funding when they opened their food cart, but soon lines started circling the block — popularity that has propelled Stoopid to burger fame.

 

Frying up a Legacy

For both Hunt and Moore, Stoopid Burger is more than a restaurant; it’s a legacy. They want to give back to the community that supported them, show that you can own your future and be role models. One day, Moore says, if Stoopid Burger continues its success, he’d like to pass it on to his kids. 

“I think it’s very important for business owners to be involved in the community because we come from that same community,” Moore says. A few of the ways Stoopid Burger gives back include partnerships with local noncommercial radio station XRAY.fm and Home Forward, a nonprofit working to provide affordable-housing opportunities to low-income, disabled and special-needs communities.

“It’s always good for kids to see people who look like them [and] come from the same background, just knowing that … we always say, you don’t always have to go to the NBA or NFL or be a rapper,” Moore continues. “We need doctors and lawyers and people to make these hamburgers out here in the world.” 

Five years since launch — a big milestone for any culinary operation — Hunt and Moore keep the crowds coming. And the duo has dreams of opening more Stoopid Burger locations in the future, “turn[ing] one into five,” Moore says. They’d love to open locations around the Portland Region, in the rest of the state and potentially even onward to West Coast domination. Right now, though, they’re focusing on doing what they do best: frying up bigger and better burgers.

“The main goal is to keep pushing out the best burgers and be a good influence in the community — that’s the kids coming up behind us,” Moore says. “It’s easy to think that something negative is positive. We grew up around gang culture. It’s kind of flashy, and you think it’s cool until something tragic happens. We want to show them early on it’s [more fun] to be a business owner and be in control of your future.” 

5 Favorite PDX Bites

Moore, a self-described foodie, says he’s always going out to eat and always traveling. Much of those experiences help inspire his and Hunt’s menu creations at Stoopid Burger. Currently, these are five of their favorite restaurants to check out — after you’ve had one of their burgers, of course.

Tienda y Panaderia Santa Cruz

A North Portland Mexican staple, it is an expansive tienda, carniceria and panaderia fronting a longstanding taqueria serving breakfast, tacos, large plates and weekend special soups.

Trap Kitchen

This famous Compton soul food and fried chicken restaurant — a favorite of Snoop Dogg’s and Kobe Bryant’s — opened a Portland food cart in 2018. The menu here changes daily, with updates sent to Instagram nightly.

 

Kee’s #Loaded Kitchen

Another beloved Black-owned business, Kee’s #Loaded Kitchen draws sell-out crowds for owner Kiauna Nelson’s generous (4 pounds of food plus dessert and a drink) soul food plates. Like Trap Kitchen, the Thursday-to-Sunday menu is posted to Instagram hours before opening.

Imperial

Vitaly Paley’s downtown Portland hotel restaurant was formerly helmed by “Top Chef” finalist Doug Adams. Though Adams has since left to open his own restaurant, his fried chicken with hot sauce and honey remains a must-order. 

Han Oak

Tucked behind Stoopid Burger lies this award-winning and light-hearted Korean-American restaurant in the home of former Spotted Pig right-hand man Peter Cho.

About The
Author

Samantha Bakall
Samantha Bakall is a freelance journalist and photographer specializing in diversity-based food issues. She currently calls Portland home. A Chinese-American native of Chicago, Bakall has been obsessively eating, writing and making people wait while she takes pictures of their food since she was a teenager. Her work has appeared in The Oregonian, where she was the food and dining writer for more than four years; The Takeout; The San Francisco Chronicle; and others.

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