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Deciding on the best burger joint in Seattle is like trying to pick the choicest coffee spot in town: It’s totally subjective, and you’ll never come to an agreement. That said, Li’l Woody’s on Capitol Hill is making its mark on the city’s burger “Wall of Fame.”

The hand-formed Painted Hills ground-beef patties have a nice smoky grilled flavor, and the soft buns (the source of which wasn’t divulged when I asked) held up well even with the most heavily applied toppings.

One item that caught our attention was “Crack,” which is a basket of French fries and a small cup of Molly Moon’s milkshake to be used as a dipping sauce. It brought back memories of being a kid and mixing sweet with salty.

Li’l Woody’s is also opening a second location — possibly by summer — at the former Zak’s Burger on Northwest Market Street in Ballard.

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The menu: It is all about the beef, with seven specialty burgers touting names like The Fig and Pig ($8.50) layered with Boat Street pickled figs; Smoked Out ($8) in a house-made chipotle sauce; The Trotter ($8) with caramelized onions and apples topped with a house-made horseradish sauce; The New Mexican ($8) with Hatch Green Chiles and a special queso sauce; and Pendleton ($8) with an onion ring and barbecue sauce.

The basic Li’l Woody has Tillamook cheddar cheese, chopped onions, pickles, ketchup and mayo, and will only set you back $4.50. If you’re hungry grab the Big Woody for $7. You can also build your own burger ($5) plus toppings (50 cents to $1).

There are beef-less alternatives like Good Mornin’ Woody ($4.50) with two eggs, bacon, tomato, cheddar cheese and rooster mayo; Cap Hill chicken sandwich ($8); and Veggie Veggie ($6). Side dishes include house-made onion rings ($6), and queso and fries ($5).

The fresh thin-cut French fries looked awfully familiar to another burger spot up the hill on Broadway. Li’l Woody’s were nicely fried and crispy, and will only set your wallet back $2.50 for a small or $3.50 for a large basket (more than enough for two people).

The Molly Moon’s handmade milkshakes ($5) come in six flavors, and they also offer a root-beer float ($5).

What to write home about: The Trotter and Li’l Woody (substituted with grilled onions) were our favorites. The place was hopping the day we visited, but the server gauged how long it would take (15 to 20 minutes) for our food to arrive, just in case we were cramped on time.

The setting: Order at the counter, and expect a line out the door during lunch and late night after the bars close. A narrow entryway leads to seating along the wall with extra table and chairs in the loft.

Summing up: Four of us had a Big Woody ($7); Crack ($5); two Li’l Woody ($4.50 each); make your own burger ($8); onion rings ($6); and two milkshakes ($10), for $49.27, tax included.

Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or

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