Big Orange Midtown serves up more burgers, praise
Chances are that if you’ve lived in Little Rock for a few years, you’ve heard of Big Orange. The gourmet burger restaurant, which first opened in 2011, has become the favorite place of your significant other, your co-workers and your best friends. It’s been featured on countless blogs and serves as one of the area’s few restaurants that consistently lives up to its hype. Now, with this summer’s addition of a new location in the Midtown Shopping Center, the Big Orange praises will only grow louder.
The restaurant’s proprietors, which include John Beachboard, Herren Hickingbotham and Scott McGehee, are hardly strangers to successful ownership. They’re also the minds behind ZaZa Pizza Co. and Local Lime, a Mexican restaurant that opened in West Little Rock last year. But the demand for more Big Orange goodness has no doubt made it one of their biggest success stories, and it was this enthusiasm that led to the new location’s opening in late July.
Among the restaurant’s assets is the atmosphere, which is carefully cultivated to provide a modern twist on an old American standby. The decor, a mix of mid-century pieces and hipster-chic color palettes, immediately impresses with clarity and impact – a refresher from burger joints that can go awry with design. While refined, it also feels comfortable, with hordes of people chowing down amidst friendly chatter and affable attention from staff members.
But the main attraction, as it should be, is the restaurant’s diverse and delicious assortment of eats. Big Orange West’s fare has attracted thousands of customers since its opening, and the Midtown location proves just as satisfying with their selection of gourmet burgers, waffle fries and unbeatable drinks. The Atom Bomb burger, a personal favorite, continues to amaze with farm-to-table beef blending nicely with pickled jalapeno, sriracha and fresh sweet potato fries.
Highlights are not limited to Big Orange’s food menu. The restaurant has also gained notoriety for its drink selection, featuring national brands as well as regional beers from Diamond Bear and Boulevard. Hard liquor concoctions made by bartenders Dylan Yelenich and Lee Edwards far from disappoint, with new drinks like the Corpse Reviver – a lethal, delicious potion of gin, absinthe and lemon juice – joining the ranks of old standards. Some options vary between the two locations, but goodness is always a guarantee.
A notable difference between the two locations is the seating capacity, which has improved tremendously with Midtown’s opening. There are plenty of fans – myself included – who have sometimes strayed from the place in West Little Rock because of the wait. But the addition of more seats (close to 200 people) allows for faster turnover, making for shorter waits and quicker access to addictive food. The new location, like it’s original, alerts waiting guests via text message when their table is ready, allowing customers to walk and shop at nearby stores.
A final note: because of Big Orange’s devotion to customer satisfaction, the menu also includes some options for those who prefer not to stomach the beef. Regular burgers can be substituted with turkey or vegetarian patties made from sauteed vegetables and a “three-bean mix.” Because of the restaurant’s use of bread from Little Rock’s Dempsey Bakery, customers can also go gluten-free, again proving that a menu with limited options is still capable of satisfying just about everyone.
Although the place may be packed for a while because of its “newness” novelty, it’s certainly worth the wait. Big Orange, we salute you; welcome to the club.
Big Orange Midtown is now open in the Midtown shopping center, located at 207 N. University Ave.