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Originally published Friday, November 11, 2011 at 5:33 AM

Dining Deal

Tiny Rain City Burgers is big on choices

Rain City Burgers in Seattle offers 13 kinds of burgers, plus chicken, veggie, salmon or buffalo burgers, too, accompanied by two kinds of fries, tater tots or onion rings.

Seattle Times staff

Rain City Burgers

American

6501 Roosevelt Way N.E., Seattle

206-525-3542 or www.raincityburgers.com

Hours: 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and noon-7 p.m. Sundays

Etc.: Visa and MasterCard accepted; no obstacles to access; street parking; does not serve alcohol

Prices: $-$$

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Gourmet-burger joints are almost mandatory for any gastronomically friendly Seattle neighborhood. And for a while now, the Roosevelt-Bryant district has had one tucked into a tiny storefront at the busy corner of 65th Street Northeast and Roosevelt Way Northeast.

The cheerful, family-owned Rain City Burgers is a fast-food haven that doesn't put on airs. But it does proudly serve natural-beef patties cooked to order, with no added hormones or antibiotics, from cows fed a vegetarian diet. Ingredients are fresh, and the potatoes and onion rings are fried in 100 percent canola oil.

The menu: Thirteen different styles of juicy beef quarter pounders are the centerpiece of the menu, but diners can also get chicken, veggie, salmon or buffalo burgers with many (or no) trimmings, along with hand-dipped ice-cream milkshakes and fries. Burger prices start at $4.09 and top out at $7.49 (for buffalo).

Served on fresh, pillowy buns, patties come well-dressed with lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickle and Rain City sauce (a smoky, tasty barbecue-mayo dressing). Extra burger trimmings (99 cents-$1.39) include Portobello mushrooms and pineapple, and the hand-cut tater tots, sweet-potato and white-potato fries and onion rings run $1.79-$2.99 for a generous order. Milkshakes with fresh-fruit flavorings ring up at $3.49.

What to write home about: The standout mushroom burger marries a well-spiced beef burger with chewy, meaty slices of baby portobello 'shrooms and your choice of cheese. The ground salmon burger is juicy and flavorful. And the rustic fries and crunchy battered onion rings hit the spot.

What to skip: Unless you crave a sugar buzz, the thick vanilla malted shake is awfully rich and cloyingly sweet.

The setting: Like a walk-in closet with big windows, so no wonder they do a brisk takeout business. But there are several tables, and it's pleasant to munch the piping-hot food while watching the street scene.

Summing up: A mushroom burger, a bacon burger and a salmon burger, an order of onion rings and two orders of fries, an Izze soda and a malted milkshake totaled $33.90 including tax.

Misha Berson: mberson@seattletimes.com

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