With the dirty pun-inducing name, late hours, thin french-fries, and the cheapest burger coming in at under a five spot, analogies of Li'l Woodys as an upscale version of the Seattle classic Dick's Drive In are hard not to draw. The $4.50 Li'l Woody carries quite a bit more heft than a Dick's burger, but the flame-broiled burger offers many of the same satisfying flavors to anyone who spent their teens racing the clock to make it to that orange, glowing mecca before closing time at two in the morning.
As the adult version, Capitol Hill's Li'l Woodys offers later closing times (3am on weekends), ice cream shakes taken high-end using Molly Moon's ice cream, a much larger variety of burger styles, and one more very important distinction: queso. In much the same way that Li'l Woody's is the refined Dick's, queso is refined Velveeta. Lest you fear that same Dick's shade of orange when the dreaded 'cheese product' is brought up, the queso made at Li'l Woody's is a rather benign off-white color. The flavor, however, is much less benign.
The best use of the queso sauce comes in the form of the unique "New Mexican," one of the dozen or so burger variations on offer. Chopped Hatch green chilies are held between the bun and the patty with a generous glob of the vaguely cheese-like, queso. While tempering the heat of chilies a bit, the sauce adds its own zing, as well as a texture that reminds of why you want the cheese on your cheeseburger to be wonderfully melted.
The house-made queso, aside from its appearance on the burger, is available as a topping for the fries. It's a good idea, as the fries, while acceptable at first, went limp fast. Luckily they're easily redeemable with a simple swirl in the queso. Another option, often made ad-hoc, but here on the menu is the "Crack" offering--a small cup of shake in which to dip your fries. A generation of youth who grew up dipping their soggy Dick's french fries into their chocolate shakes rejoices as their food choices are legitimized, taken upscale, and served when those who don't have a curfew want to eat.