Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans
Alden Burge knows a thing or two about smoking, in fact he has nearly perfect the art. The man smokes so well, even Snoop Dogg would be jealous. Okay, so we’re talking turkeys here, but Burge’s Smoked Turkeys is every bit as addicting, we should be grateful it’s legal in this state.
Upon entering Burge’s, I knew this was going to be a unique experience. The place was teeming with tradition and that wonderful old-school charm. There’s a certain ambience and excitement in the air that simply cannot be artificially recreated by modern devices. Red-and-white checkered tablecloths, a bustling crew behind the countertop, the enormous weathered menu boards plastered across the walls, it’s easy to see how Burge’s has become a staple in Little Rock.
However, as I sat down to dig into my first “famous” turkey salad sandwich, it was a total “WTF?” moment. The sandwich was pretty small, and not much to look at, no more than a quick spread of chopped turkey and mayo, iceberg lettuce, between two ordinary looking slices of toasted white bread. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by our modern concept of appropriate portion sizes, but given the option, I would have definitely “super-sized” this thing. How had this sorry looking sandwich become “famous,” I wondered? Nonetheless, I pressed on and sampled my choice, expectations now sadly lower.
But as I wrapped my lips around the unassuming turkey salad, my opinions quickly changed. The smoked turkey, clearly the star of this show, sang with the voice of a million-member Vienna Boy’s Choir. Deep smoky notes, almost sweet to the taste and unexpectedly fabulous, gently punctuate its rich turkey flavor. While smothered in mayo, the turkey remains at the forefront of the sandwich’s flavor profile, perfectly balanced with the rest of the simple ingredients. It may not be much to look at, but it delivers on taste. When paired with Burge’s fine onion rings and nearly-famous cherry limeade, you have a meal that should make any Arkansan proud.
Burge’s is the just the kind of place you’d expect to see Guy Fieri, and his peroxide-soaked hair, gallivanting around spouting out signature catch phrases. “This turkey is legit!” or “this place is like the capitol of Flavortown!” Yet, I wouldn’t mind if the celebrity chef did stop by for a spell, Burge’s deserves the recognition. Maybe we should all email the big guy?
Burge’s has 2 Locations:
Spruce and 6th
5620 R St