(Lloyd Center Mall)
2039 Lloyd Center
Portland, OR 97204
The conversation usually starts like this: “I want to get a malt,” he says.
Lunch Lady: Rolling my eyes because I know where this is going.
Him: “Let’s go to that diner place at Lloyd Center.”
LL: “You always say you want to go there to get a malt and then you never order one.”
Him: “But they also have real cherry Coke.”
LL: “Fine, whatever. Let’s go then.”
Yes, that is exactly how I end up a Billy Heartbeats every single time. It’s not that I have anything against the Johnny Rocket’s knock-off, but I feel like I get tricked into going.
To be honest, Billy Heartbeats isn’t bad at all, and it’s certainly better than most of the other greasy, bland food court options at Lloyd Center, although I am always tempted by Hot Dog on a Stick.
I typically indulge in the cheeseburger delux, which is what you’d expect—a hearty cheeseburger with fresh toppings, toasty bun and a mountain of very fried fries.
But on my most recent lunchtime visit I opted for the fried egg sandwich with cheddar cheese. It was only so-so, and so very slathered with mayo it was hard to taste anything else. I was also disappointed that the white Wonder-like bread wasn’t toasted, which would have made the sandwich so much better.
When I inevitably go back again, I will probably return to the cheeseburger delux, which is a solid, if slightly boring, choice. Or I might try one of the other sandwiches on the menu. Or maybe a salad, but most of them are served tossed in the dressing (I prefer to get my dressing on the side). No, this place is definitely not on your Weight Watcher’s plan!
The menu has your standard nostalgic diner fare, lots of burgers, sandwiches, salads, soup and chili. But the main attraction might just be the shakes, malts, floats and sundaes. If ice cream is your thing, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Decked out in red, white and black décor, each booth sports a mini jukebox and the vibe is an attempted throwback to the 50s. The restaurant is clean and bright and inside the mall. Prices are reasonable; nothing on the menu currently tops $8. The portions are large and filling—you’ll never walk out of Billy Heartbeats hungry. The servers are friendly and orders come out quickly.
The one thing I don’t like about Billy Heartbeats is the setting. I would be much more excited to go to Billy Heartbeats if it wasn’t located right next to the Lloyd Center food court. If you are seated along the mall-side of the restaurant, streams of people pass you by—some of the food court tables seem more private. This also makes the restaurant a little louder than, say, sitting next to a kid’s birthday party at Red Robin.
Overall, the food is pretty good (and exploding with calories) and it’s a fine place to stop if you are already at the mall and want a bite to eat. I just find it too much of an effort to go all the way to the crowded, noisy Lloyd Center food court for a burger that I could have at any number of less chaotic places.
And, no, he didn’t get the malt. But he was one step closer by ordering the seasonal pumpkin milkshake.
Pros: Good burgers, hefty portions, moderate prices
Cons: Food court location makes it a little loud, not a good place to go if you are on a diet
See the Billy Heartbeats menu