People of a certain age have fond memories of restaurants that are now extinct but they would probably give a kidney to have a few come back. Well, for the budget friendly burger lover sometimes they do come back. Red Line Burgers or Redline Burgers ghosted us for years then popped up in our DM’s again looking for love, saying they changed for the better but their love is still the same. Basically what that bad analogy is getting at is that their burgers have the same taste but they went to a food truck vs the stand alone drive-thru’s that were everywhere. The burgers, as far as my taste buds could remember, were the same. But then another food truck showed up also claiming to be the original. The issue is I didn’t even notice there was no gap between red and line. See the original name is trademarked and this new trailer doesn’t have that space. So who do I believe, the new trailer even put out ads claiming no affiliation with the other food truck and that their lawyers were on it. At first I wanted the truth! Did I really care though? Nope, what I truly care about is whose burger is better! I don’t want to play into the drama, I just want the superior tasting burger. So what we did, was take a trip to each trailer and had a little burger showdown.
We started with the trailer that reappeared back into our lives first, mainly because it was closer. Their menu seems a bit more intense than the original but, I’m not sure I can really recall any other items on the menu except the $1.97 burger combo or the 5 burger and fries combo. You really didn’t need anything else from that place. This food truck has fried egg burgers, frito pie burgers, just options I really don’t feel the old place had around. I’m not complaining. I think the options are great and I love a fried egg on the burger, just making a comparison. When this truck first popped up we checked them out several times before we gave them our stamp of love. After that though I enjoyed them so much that I had to add them to a list we did to help us get over Whataburger selling, an old favorite coming back plus it’s still one of the best burgers in the city. So now that we’re back we ordered what we thought was close to what the original would be, a regular burger combo. The price was not $1.97 and I wasn’t expecting it to be! At first glance everything looks fantastic. A little thicker patty, thick purple onion slices, fresh leaf of lettuce, thinly slice tomato, crisp bacon on a lightly toasted sesame seed bun. The sesame seeds buns are a minor detail which the original didn’t have but this is not your bargain burger, these are a little more of a quick crafted burger. Which brings me back to those other options. You can customize this burger with more than just an onion, tomato and lettuce. The Redline trailer isn’t that quick cheap bite that Red Line used to be.
Now we make the trek to Portland to try the trademarked namesake. And when I say trek, it really felt like it. This trailer’s address is a farm-to-market so you know it’s out of the way. If you live in Portland I’m sure it’s not that bad but coming from Corpus you have to really want it! It sits at the front of a large lot, even with the ditch there it’s hard to miss, there’s nothing else except farm land. Now this is definitely my first go at this trailer and I didn’t come in with any expectation. So pulling up to an empty lot with no one around, not even people in the trailer, wasn’t a great start. But if there’s no customers there’s a garage building towards the back of the lot where I’m guessing they hang out. I’d hate to sit around in the trailer if nobody’s there too, so I get it. Kept my order the same and the prices are almost identical, the $1.97 combo still long gone. The burger came out looking just like it did back in the day. This burger too seemed really fresh! They both have a familiarity to them, so it’s going to be a tough call. Only real difference I can make is that this one felt more like the original. It was just a little smaller and had that drive-thru burger look and feel.
I didn’t mention the fries because this is about the burgers but they do play an important part. The Redline truck has some thick cut version of the fries and they work really well with the more crafted type of burger. The same goes for the Red Line trailer, theirs were how I remember and just like Redline’s but thinner. Which worked really well for the type of burger they serve. Now this is definitely closer than I thought. And to be honest it could be a tie but I’m not doing it like that. These two burgers have their roles each different from the other, so they both have a place here. The Red Line in Portland does seem just slightly more like the original and is built just the same. It’s purpose is a quick grab burger but still has a great amount of flavor. The Redline in Corpus does taste close to the original but it feels more like a restaurant burger, you need a space to sit down and enjoy it. Surprisingly, overall taste went to the Portland Red Line, it packed a lot into a smaller burger. I’m big on layering and I think the cheese on the patty helped seal the deal on the taste. The issue is I’m probably not driving out there when the other is a lot closer and I can change it up as needed. Pretty sure this was almost pointless but in all, fun and nostalgic. Now to see how these two will coexist in the future as they both seem to have plans for more. Until then here are a few old commercials to remember the cheaper days!