Ask us at PoMo for our favorite burger spots, and there's one that always comes up on our short list: Hit the Spot. Before crisp-edged smash burgers were trendy, out of a cart in the Human Bean parking lot on NE Sandy, Hit the Spot was making juicy yet thin patties with squishy buns, melty cheese, shredded lettuce, tomato, and special sauce. It ranked no. 2 on PoMo's Burger Cabal ranking of classic cheeseburgers, second only to Expatriate's American Standard. I describe Hit the Spot as "In-N-Out if In-N-Out were actually good"—no animal style needed, and with excellent crispy shoestring fries that are nothing like the fast food chain's sad, cardboard-like deal.
Now, the cart is closed, and after nearly a year in the works, Hit the Spot opened on August 31 in a brick-and-mortar space in the Central Eastside, occupying the space formerly home to Brunch Box (676 SE Morrison St). Burgers and fries are, of course, at the center of the new restaurant's menu—with the option to add on things like bacon and peppers.
New to the menu are fried chicken sandwiches, both regular and spicy. They're served on squishy, lightly toasted potato rolls. The chicken is clearly top quality—Mary's, co-owner Jane Sivers says—and the the dry cayenne rub is like a less-greasy take on Nashville style. With Spot sauce and pickle relish, it's light enough that you could eat it outside on a 90-degree day and go back to work without needing a nap after. (I say this from personal experience.) There are four kinds of beer on tap, including a 2 Towns cider and a Migration IPA, and three kinds of milkshakes made with Umpqua ice cream. The vanilla strikes just the right balance of creamy and rich, yet refreshing.
The new restaurant offers a more high-tech experience than the food cart; ordering is done via two self-serve kiosks at the register. There's plenty of air-conditioned seating in the concrete-floored, high-ceilinged dining room, which is adorned with murals from local Portland artists; outdoor seating is also available, with Notorious B.I.G. pumping from the speakers on our visit.
Hit the Spot is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; hours will later expand to 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.