Li’l Woody’s has been a celebrity of sorts. It appeared on the Travel Network’s Feed the Beast show, which highlights America’s best late-night grub. The burger and shake restaurant opened its first operation in Capitol Hill in 2011. Its popularity was great enough that it opened a second location in Ballard two months ago. More to follow? All their meat is sourced from Painted Hills Natural Beef in Oregon. Is there room for yet another burger joint? I guess that’s like asking if we need more pizza places, pretty much an irrelevant question when we’re talking about an American food obsession.
A new burger restaurant has to have at least one unique offering, a signature sandwich that distinguishes it from one down the street. Li’l Woody’s has seven on its menu, including a popular one called The Fig and the Pig, made up of pickled figs, bacon, mayo and crumbled gorgonzola cheese. There is also The New Mexican that uses genuine Hatch chiles, dressed with its own proprietary cheese (queso) sauce. These are worth trying if you want to evaluate how successfully a restaurant can come up with an interesting and tasty creation, because otherwise all that’s left is a burger that would have to stand on its own: ground beef, bun and a few condiments. Which is the way I prefer it when I order a burger, essentially unadorned except for a sliced raw onion, cheese, lettuce and maybe tomato. No sauce. No catsup. When you can taste the beef in all its glory—or defects. I recall with great fondness the ground sirloin sandwich that was served by Petrelli’s in Culver City (California) many blue moons ago that majestically stood on its own with only bun, burger and onion.
Which brings up another way you can order at Li’l Woody’s—customizing your own—by starting with a ⅓-lb charbroiled beef patty and building the sandwich with your choice of an array of ingredients (including peanut butter!!!) at extra cost. Mine? Tomato, American cheese, chopped onions and mayo on the side.
The patty had very good beef flavor. Even though the beef is 80-20, it was a tad overcooked, which probably has more to do with a restaurant’s grilling the meat nowadays beyond medium to avoid e coli problems as well as how thin the patty is. The bun was big, like a towering dome, and also a little dry, too large for the meat in between. The American cheese brought its gooeyness and a touch of sweetness to add interest. Overall, it was a good burger (☆☆☆).
The fries were thinly cut, a tad greasy and a little sparing of salt, but good (☆☆½). An option is one called Crack. Yep, Crack, fries served with milk shake dip. And, not any milk shake, but one made with Molly Moon ice cream, that purveyor of arguably Seattle’s best, sporting a butterfat content of 19%. You can also purchase ice cream here, by the way.
2040 NW Market St
Seattle, WA 98107