Thursday, August 25, 2011

Burger joint of the week: Morrilton Drive-Inn Restaurant

Posted By on Thu, Aug 25, 2011 at 9:03 AM

HOT MESS:  Cheeseburger at Morrilton Drive-Inn Restaurant
  • Kat Robinson
  • HOT MESS: Cheeseburger at Morrilton Drive-Inn Restaurant
A hot mess. Heard the term before? I’ve heard people labeled with that sort of name, but I think it’s better applied to food.

It’s exactly the sort of name I’d give to the cheeseburger at Morrilton Drive-Inn Restaurant. Hot, wet, charred… and really good. So good, in fact, that there are 16 different burger listings on the wall.

Dropped in to see what had changed since my last visit. I’ve been through quite a few times — I even wrote about it way way back. Noticed the menu boards had finally been changed. Instead of the old style lettered boards that had surrounded the main window, they’re now done in a chalkboard-style font on black. It’s still not enough for all the things the place offers, though. There are still posters and wipeboards up all over the place covering this and that.

The big difference was the ice cream. Morrilton Drive-Inn Restaurant, like so many others, have made the switch to Blue Bell since Yarnell’s is now history. But there are still all sorts of sundaes, cyclones, freezes and shakes up there.

Anyway, I was dropping in to get just a regular cheeseburger. I’ve done the Super Cheeseburger ($7.29) before… a full pound of beef on a big bun with the fixings. Took it home and shared it and still had leftovers. I noticed there’s now a Super Double Cheeseburger (it sells for $11.59) with two pounds of meat on it. Yowza. I’ve also in the past done the chili cheeseburger and received a big box full of chili that somewhere beneath had a big beef patty and an open faced turned bun. That was a family dinner.

I knew full well I didn’t want a burger that filled a clamshell box. I just wanted a quick bite for the road. So I got said quick bite. And an order of stuffed peppers. And an iced tea.

It didn’t come quick — I was there easily 10 minutes or more after ordering, waiting for my order to be finished. But when I got my to-go sack, I took it over immediately to a table, pulled out everything and shot it. Hey, that’s what I do.

Ate it on the road. Well, what did you expect? I was in a rush and traveling solo. And I gotta tell ya… here’s another great American classic smashburger. The Cheeseburger ($3.74)… buttered and toasted bun. Shredded iceberg lettuce, pickles, chopped onions and tomato slice. Mayo.

The burger meat itself was just about as crispy as you can get a smashburger to be — the edges were almost singed but nicely caramelized, what we in the burger-describing business like to call “crusty.” And buttery. And a little salty. And wet from the vegetation. And very, very good. A guilty pleasure, just about. Even with the “fake cheese” (American plastic-wrapped slices) it was pretty awesome.

Then there were the strange stuffed peppers ($4.29)… stuffed with what I think was supposed to be Cheddar cheese. Somehow it was reddish inside. Like port wine cheese. But it tasted sorta like Cheddar — as reinterpreted by Cheez Whiz. But that was okay. They were good. They were a little thinner than I am used to but there were seven or eight in the basket and they were tasty in a junk food sort of way.

Morrilton Drive-Inn Restaurant does far more than burgers. They do catfish and ribs, some really decent barbecue, big salads, 20 types of non-burger and non-BBQ sandwiches, meatloaf, pork chops, breakfast. It’s a community sort of restaurant that gives its customers whatever they’re in the mood for — probably a good part of the reason the place has been open for a couple of decades.

You’ll find the Morrilton Drive-Inn Restaurant two blocks south of I-40 on Highway 95. It’s open every day 6:30 a.m. until they decide to close. (501) 354-8343.

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