Big Larry’s Burgers lives up to its name.
The word “big” is an understatement. Colossal, gargantuan, and ginormous are words that more adequately describe the delicious-smelling burgers, also known as “good mood food,” that are served at this 8-year-old Valley Center burger joint.
This place is a real deal, gut-busting burger stand serving overindulgent eats, and you’d be wise to wear your elastic-waist, big boy pants.
All combo meals come with hand-cut fries, a soft drink, and juicy burgers are available in single, double, and triple stacks. We tried the Big Larry, a ¾-pound burger, and the bacon cheddar burger, which was layered with two crispy strips of bacon. Each burger came made-to-order with a butter-toasted bun and the usual shredded lettuce, tomato slice and dill pickles.
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Diners prepared to fade into a food coma also can opt for the Triple Big Larry, a two-pound burger with nine cheese slices. We also tried the lackluster Kickin’ Chicken Sandwich, offered grilled or fried, which is topped with a humble layer of chopped red onion, fried jalapenos, Jack cheese and Boom Boom sauce. Adding a layer of lettuce would give this flat sandwich some much needed volume.
The fries, cut two times a day in-house, are the shining star. We ordered the chili cheese fries and the bacon ranch fries, which could be eaten only with a fork because they were drowned in liquid cheese. I advise ordering the crispy tater tots or fries naked and dipping them in one of Big Larry’s several homemade fry sauces. Diners can open a self-serve mini fridge containing bottles of saucy condiments ranging from basic honey mustard to the mayonnaise-based Petal Sauce.
Dessert lovers will appreciate Big Larry’s unbeatable chocolate shake. It is an oversized, thick-as-mud cocoa concoction that you won’t want to share with anyone. The restaurant also has a Flavor Burst soft-serve ice cream machine, and kids will love the chance to choose one of eight flavors (green apple, cotton candy, watermelon, etc.) to have swirled into a towering, colorful ice cream cone.
During our visit, “Big Larry” Hall was in the kitchen working the grill. Not only does he prepare his flat-top burgers to a crispy, cheese-oozing perfection, but he also greets customers with a smile. Diners looking for that nostalgic burger shack vibe will love the restaurant’s walls, which are covered with a multitude of tin retro signs. A small space on the wall is devoted to showing support of town’s high school athletes. Big Larry loves his Valley Center High School Hornets, so much that he named one of his sandwich selections the Stinger Burger.
Diners get the impression that the owners also are big on fun. Sign up for their burger-eating contest, and if you can finish off a 10-patty burger bomb, your picture will be permanently plastered on the wall of fame adjacent to the restaurant’s toy claw machine.
Big Larry’s Burgers
Type of food: Burgers, fries, sandwiches, ice cream
Address: 328 S. Meridian, Valley Center
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays
Information: www.biglarrysburgers.com, 316-755-9858