It was a typical November night in downtown Portland, Oregon. Cold, rainy, and dreary. After hopping from brewery to brewery, it was getting late. And, I was getting hungry after one too many beers. Due to restrictions, I had limited late night food options in the downtown Portland area.
The Pearl District was empty with deserted streets and dark windows. After passing by Deschutes Brewery, I aimlessly turned down 10th Avenue. This is where I noticed a storefront that was bright and stood out against the darkness of the city. As I walked closer and closer, I could see a red and white façade and a sign that read Little Big Burger.
Without knowing anything about the place and without reading any reviews online, I walked right in. A cheeseburger was exactly what I needed to end my night. After speaking with one of the workers, I learned that Little Big Burger had other locations in Portland, Oregon, North Carolina, and Washington.
Interior of Little Big Burger
The interior of Little Big Burger was bright and open with pops of color and art on the walls. The vibrant interior was a contrast to the dark and rainy streets of Portland. In the background, music was playing, but never too loud to be annoying. The laid back ambiance worked well with the casual and clean décor.
At the center of the restaurant was an L-shaped counter. On the left side of the counter was the cashier. Hanging on the wall next to the cashier was the simple Little Big Burger menu. Being a fast casual restaurant, I ordered with the cashier and waited for my food.
There were tables in the front and back of the dining room. You could also sit at the counter along the open kitchen. From the counter, I enjoyed watching the workers as they prepared my food. I could hear the patties, and smell them, as they were sizzling on the grill. There were also picnic tables out front of the restaurant on the sidewalk.
Little Big Burger Menu
Being a fast casual restaurant, I found the menu at Little Big Burger to be simple and straight to the point. Other than truffle fries, an ice cream sandwich, and drinks, the menu only had burgers. Burger options included a hamburger, cheeseburger, double cheeseburger, chicken burger, and beyond burger. You could also add bacon to any of the burgers for an extra dollar. With limited burger options, and a root beer float, the menu reminded me of the menu at In-N-Out Burger. Even the red and white colors were similar.
Little Big Burger also had a special burger on my visit. The special was the Maui Wowie with caramelized pineapple, pepper jack cheese, and teriyaki glaze. Be sure to check for any specials on your visit if you want to try something off menu.
After a few beers, the Double Down ($8.50) sounded like a great idea. This was a massive burger. It came with two patties, two slices of pepper jack cheese, shredded lettuce, red onion, and pickles on a fresh baked brioche bun. And, I added bacon ($1.00) to the burger. The default cook for burgers was medium. So, if you want your burger cooked a different way, be sure to let them know when ordering.
The first thing that caught my attention were the two Cascade Farms Natural beef patties. These fresh quarter pound patties, covered in melted Tillamook pepper jack cheese, were thick. By the feel of it, I would guess they weighed half a pound each. The meat-to-bread ratio was a lot of beef to a little bread. With so much beef, the burger became difficult to eat and took a toll on the sweet brioche bun. While the toasted bun wasn’t soggy, the bun started to fall apart as I ate the burger.
Both of the thick patties were smoky and crispy after being seared on both sides. The charcoal flavor reminded me of grilling burgers at home. As for the seasoning, a simple combination of salt and pepper brought out the flavors of the beef. While the menu stated all burgers would be medium, my patties were closer to well done. Though overcooked, the patties were not dry.
As mentioned before, I added bacon ($1.00). I found the bacon to be crispy with a smoky, salty, rich flavor. It also added a richness to the burger along with a crunchy bite. You can never go wrong with bacon in a burger.
While difficult to see, there was also shredded lettuce, red onion, and pickles. All the toppings were fresh, crispy, and added a crunchy bite. I enjoyed the thin and salty pickles the most.
Would I order the Double Down again? I would say no. I would stick to the hamburger or cheeseburger. With how thick the patties were, the meat took over this burger and made it both messy and difficult to eat. And with how thick the patties were, a single patty would have been fine.
If the massive double cheeseburger wasn’t enough, I decided to add on an order of the truffle fries ($3.25). These skin-on, shoestring potatoes, tossed in white truffle oil and kosher salt, were simple. For the price, the portion size was generous.
As with all shoestring potatoes, I found the fries to be thin but not too thin. Every fry was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The fries reminded me of something I would find at In-N-Out Burger, but better.
If you have tasted truffle oil before, then you know how overpowering it can be. And, it can make food oily. This was not the case with these fries. I couldn’t taste much of the truffle oil which often has a distinct earthy flavor that many dislike. Lastly, some might find the fries to be too salty, but this was not an issue for me.
While not the best fries I have had, the crunchy, salty, addicting potatoes complemented the smoky burger.
On my visit, Little Big Burger was all but empty. Behind the counter were three young workers who were taking orders, cleaning, and working the grills. Being a fast casual restaurant, I ordered at the counter near the front. The cashier was friendly, but otherwise, this was as far as my interaction with the staff went. I had no issues with this as I was ordering my food to go.
With food prepared fresh to order, be patient. I waited about 15 minutes for my food, even with an empty restaurant. During the lunch rush, I would expect the waits to be even longer.
Little Big Burger is a local burger restaurant in downtown Portland. While I wouldn’t say it was the best burger in Portland, the burger was fresh, homemade, and flavorful. And, it was massive with its thick Cascade Farms Natural beef patties. I enjoyed the sear and the smoky flavors of the beef. But, it was tough to eat being so tall. The meat overshadowed everything else including the cheese, bacon, and toppings. But for the price, I can’t complain.
While I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit Little Big Burger, if I was hungry and passed by one of their locations, I would stop in. With everything else closed on a cold night in Portland, the double cheeseburger and truffle fries at Little Big Burger was just what I needed that night.
- Smoky, thick, fresh beef patties
- Large portions
- Vibrant and bright interior
- Patties overcooked though not dry
- Burger was a little messy and hard to eat with such thick patties
122 NW 10th Ave, Portland, OR 97209
GPS Coordinates: 45.52415,-122.68102