Eat Here Now

Super Deluxe Brings In-N-Out-Style Fast Food to Portland

Micah Camden is this city's burger king.

By Benjamin Tepler September 11, 2018 Published in the October 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

For Californians and Southwesterners, In-N-Out is a birthright. Not some national chain slinging factory meat, In-N-Out snugs two juicy patties in a potato bun, slathers them in proprietary special sauce and turns the whole thing on its side to face the customer, practically screaming, “Eat me!” East Coasters swear by Shake Shack for a similar regional-burger fix. Southern Oregon even has two In-N-Outs, in Medford and Grants Pass. But Portlanders? We’re out of luck. (For all its touting of local ingredients, Burgerville simply does not make a burger we crave.)

But as of this summer, we now have our very own version of the perfect drive-through burger. It’s called Super Deluxe.

Love him or hate him, Micah Camden knows burgers. Camden is the pugnacious man behind not only Little Big Burger but also Yakuza’s legendary bistro burger (and the burgerless Blue Star Donuts). With Super Deluxe, he set out to capitalize on the slow bleed of national drive-throughs, Wendy’s to Burger King, taking their vacant infrastructure and nailing the basics of an essential In-N-Out-style burger.

What are those basics? Griddled, crispy-edged ground beef raised and butchered in the Pacific Northwest, sweet caramelized onions, crunchy, tangy pickle rounds, special sauce (mayo with Dijon, ketchup, and a few other secrets), shredded lettuce, vine-ripened tomatoes, a good ol’ slice of melty American cheese, and the only bun fit for real players, a Martin’s potato roll. The bottom line? We’re not eating factory meat, you don’t need to order anything “Animal Style,” and it costs $4.75 for a Single Deluxe.

When Super Deluxe is good, it’s great. Nuggets, fries, and hashbrowns” (little medallions dusted in rosemary seasoning) are crisped to a perfect, salty, golden brown. The breakfast sandwich, an English muffin topped with bacon, sausage, or avocado, includes a baked, over-medium egg that oozes into the goopy cheese for a guaranteed hangover remedy. And that burger will banish any In-N-Out inferiority complex you might have.

But two major hurdles come with opening a true fast-food drive-through on bustling SE Powell Boulevard. 1. Quality control. Camden isn’t hiring chefs to flip burgers; he’s got ex-cons on probation alongside high school students. Seasonings and toppings can be forgotten; the tiny seating area gets grungy. 2. Drive-through logjams. Expect up to 30 minutes idling in line. Don’t even think about parking—you’ll be blocked in. On good days, Super Deluxe hits the 10-minute mark, inching its way toward the six-minute gold standard. Our recommendation? Park on the street and walk inside.

Even so, scalability isn’t even a question. This is Micah Camden, Portland’s de facto chain baron! If the wild success of the first Super Deluxe is any indication, we might be looking at not only a Burgerville shutout, but a full-on West Coast burger war.

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