Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism
The formula for the perfect burger is surprisingly elusive. Though the basic components remain fairly standard between restaurants, the execution and end products often have dramatic differences. And with so many diverse iterations of this noble beast, a person could spend an entire lifetime trying to hunt down the ultimate burger experience. It is intriguing to think that the humble burger, an item nearly any backyard troll with a grill and a spatula can slap together, can warrant so much attention from the restaurant community at large. The simple fact is, our nation is completely infatuated with ground beef in a bun. I am no exception, as I, myself, cannot ignore the delightful siren’s song of the next restaurant touting “the best burger in town.” The burger is the epitome of comfort food. It will never go away, it will never fade out of favor…and if a restaurant is serving a notable rendition on its menu, you can be fairly certain that word will get out sooner rather than later. Such is the case with The Root Café, a precious gem of a restaurant in Little Rock ’s Southside Main St. neighborhood…a place serving food too fresh, too unique, and too delicious not to shout about.
The Root’s burger is the kind of dish that is difficult to perfectly capture in words. Suddenly, I find that the same old tired food descriptors seem inadequate when trying to portray a thing of such beauty. I could go on spouting out the usual adjectives…juicy, fresh, perfectly-cooked, luscious, rich, flavorful (all of which apply here)…you’ve heard them all before. But now I am finding it difficult to detail exactly what it is about the Root burger that really sings to me. Still, I shall attempt to capture in words what I really feel in my heart.
Perhaps, its splendor lies in its simplicity. There are no gimmicks here, no exotic cheeses from distant lands, and no beef from cows that have been oil-massaged and fed grapes while lounging in clover fields all day. Just honest, locally-sourced ingredients, utilized in perfect proportions, to create a literal thing of beauty. The pasture-raised beef comes from local farms. It’s 1/3 pound of pure bovine bliss. And thank the heavens, they can cook a burger right, medium, the only way a decent burger should be enjoyed. Joining the party: a thick slice of ripe red tomato, sweetly caramelized grilled white onion, thinly sliced house-made pickle, a mild, zesty mustard, and a creamy house mayo. The exceptional cheese is sourced from the local Daley Dairy, producers of the fine Honeysuckle Lane yellow cheddar. This melted cheese softly wraps around the thick, hot beef patty, gently cascading down its sides. Holding the entire team together is the Boulevard Bread bun…soft, lightly grilled, superb.
Its colors, its textures, its smell…all combine to form an edible masterpiece, worthy of its own pedestal in the Louvre. Beyond that, the flavors swirling around in each bite of this burger will leave an indelible impression on your mind, a memory that will likely be safely tucked away into some pleasurable recess of your mind, right next to the memories of your first kiss, your wedding day, or the birth of your first child. It’s not the kind of thing you keep silent about.
The Root Cafe
1500 S. Main