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The original name of Argenta’s newest Main Street eatery was Dawgtown Grill, and while we’re not sure why the change — Dawgtown fit with both the menu and one of North Little Rock’s less flattering, although prime for ironic reclamation, nicknames — Fat Boys Cafe is no less apt as a moniker.
There are some items on the menu that will not kill you outright: club and veggie sandwiches, the Fat Boys Big Ultimate Salad, a fruit smoothie.
But we didn’t try any of those.
The ’dogs star at Fat Boys, all eight varieties, with other greasy delights like a burger and nachos playing supporting roles. Go with a big appetite and a steely stomach if you really want to enjoy the place.
The cafe opened a few weeks ago in the space formerly occupied by Argenta Coffee Co., a small, kind of run-down storefront on Main that makes it feel like a real neighborhoody spot.
It’s open for breakfast on weekdays — but not on Saturdays, for a reason we don’t really understand — and lunch Monday through Saturday. We’ll start with lunch, since we have a feeling that’s what most diners will be interested in.
Our group of three sampled the German-style Dawg ($4.95), the Blow Torch Dawg ($4.95) and the Fat Boys Burger ($6.75 with cheese).
The German is a Johnsonville bratwurst covered in sauerkraut, onions and beer-brat mustard, a giant mess of a dog that our companion seemed to like just fine. The Blow Torch had us silently thanking the gods of office layout that we wouldn’t later be sitting next to the person who ordered it: a “fiery hot link” served with jalapeno relish and “fire sauce” on a bun. We’re not sure how much personal tolerance was in play, but our dining companion didn’t seem particularly impressed with the heat factor, despite thoroughly loading up on the relish and sauce.
Our burger was fine, especially with the addition of a pile of grilled onions we asked for, but we did take exception to its price. There are thicker, better cheeseburgers to be had in Central Arkansas for less than $6.75 (it’s a dollar cheaper without the cheese).
Fat Boys also has a rotating daily lunch special: choices include meat loaf, white beans and cornbread, and enchilada casserole.
For dessert, we can happily recommend the Turtle Thingy ($2.95), your basic warm-brownie-and-ice-cream dish topped with caramel, chocolate syrup, pecans and whipped cream. Our main requirement for this type of dessert is that the brownie be properly soft and gooey, and Fat Boys got it right.
We returned a few days later for breakfast, something we have to say we would have enjoyed more on a leisurely Saturday morning than a rushed weekday a.m. But we understand there are some people in this world who enjoy getting up early even when they don’t have to.
The menu covers basic breakfast fare: Eggs, bacon and sausage, waffles, etc. Our companion opted for the breakfast wrap ($2.95), filled with cheese, eggs and sausage; and an order of biscuits and gravy ($2.95). “Nothing fancy, but a good, solid breakfast,” he judged. Our waffles ($2.95, plus 55 cents for pecans) were fine as well, although they could have used another minute or so on the waffle iron to brown and crisp the outside. But for $3.50, it’s hard to quibble too much. And the coffee was good, especially for the diner variety.
Overall, our dining companions and ourselves weren’t blown away by what we ate, but we couldn’t find serious fault with it, either. Fat Boys is a humble place, and if you’re in the mood for a loaded-up hot dog or sausage, or a quick and cheap weekday breakfast, it’s a handy addition to the downtown-area dining scene.
Fat Boys Cafe
318 Main St.
North Little Rock
It’s possible to eat light at Fat Boys, but you’re better off jumping right in with one of the menu’s heartburn-on-a-plate hot dog specialties. Chase it with root beer float to cool things off.
7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat., closed Sun.
Credit cards accepted. No alcohol.