While we tend to prefer French fries with our big ol' nasty burgers, every once in awhile we get a hankering for onion rings, those second-fiddle players that are sometimes (though rarely, in our experience) good enough to take a starring role. The problem with onion rings, and the reason they're probably not as popular as Freedom Fries, is usually one of execution. Most places just slice 'em too dang thick and bread 'em too heavy. This is clearly the case with our overall onion ring winner found at Sonic. You bite in, draw back, and more often than not the onion slithers right out of the breading, leaving you with a limp noodle of blanched veggie on your lip and a weird tube of fried dough between your fingers. Sorry, dear voters, but nobody wants that, ballots be damned.
Then there are the rings at our local winner, Arkansas Burger Co. on Cantrell. They know how to do rings right.
Though they won't divulge the recipe for their breading — even under pain of seeing a grown man cry — the real secret appears to be how thin they slice their onions. We're talking paper thin, string thin, so thin you could probably read the sports page through those pearly-white Vidalias by the time they're done. Then they drop 'em in batter, followed by a bath in the hot grease. What comes out the other side of that trial by fat is a real treat, one that would make even the most ardent pommes frites freak think twice: a hot, crispy, fragrant tangle of rings, each so thin that the onion has fried up crispy along with the golden-brown batter. They're perfect when dipped in a little ketchup, and like manna when riding alongside one of Arkansas Burger Co.'s big ol' namesakes.
The only problem with all that crispiness is that once you touch them, the onion rings at Arkansas Burger Co. crumble into something better described as onion arcs, which will have further disintegrated to onion bits by the time you hit the wax paper in the bottom of the basket. Only rarely will you fish out a thin, perfect ring. Doesn't matter though. One bite, and you and the rest of the folks at your table will likely be scrabbling after those tasty crumbles with your fingertips.
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