By Sara Davis Christie
So, every single time I find myself in one of those “what’s you favorite food?” chats, which happens a lot oddly enough, I find myself trying to say pizza or Mexican or cheese in general, but you wanna know the truth?
It’s burgers. Always has been, always will be.
I don’t know why I have a strange urge to try and spice it up and pretend that it’s something else. Maybe I think burgers aren’t sexy enough? Maybe it’s because lots of people say burgers? I’m not sure, but it’s time to get real. Burgers might be one of the true loves of my life. There isn’t a problem or celebration that a burger wouldn’t make better. Growing up, we would make burgers as casually as most folks would make a PB&J. When I was in college and my roommate and I would wake up starving and probably kind of sad, the greasy cheeseburger joint down the street never let us down–those cheeseburgers set us free! I got married a couple of weeks ago and on our honeymoon my husband(!!!) suggested we order a couple of burgers and a bottle of champagne for room service/poolside and I legitimately cried tears of joy*. I can now tell you what true love looks like.
So that’s it, burgers are the perfect food and I’m glad we all agree.
Today, though, I would like to narrow the focus to the flat-top griddle burger. All burgers are good, but when given the choice, I’m going to go with a thin-pattied-buttered-toasted-regular-ass-bun burger every time. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes eating a gourmet burger is nice, but my beef with those (see what I did there?!) is the dang brioche! I don’t need a loaf of bread, even though it’s delicious, with my patty. The beauty of the flat top burger is that they’re usually small and offer a really nice balance of flavors because the bun doesn’t distract from the meat, it enhances it. The thin-ish patty with some good old fashioned toppings on a toasted bun is pure perfection, while still leaving room for the meat to be the star.
Time to Get Into Specifics
I may or may not have eaten three burgers this week (yeah, definitely did), but I rounded the week out with what is arguably my favorite burger of all time. Shorty’s Bar-B-Que in Conway has been my go-to burger spot since I started college in 2004. It’s maybe the only place I go for a double because I show no restraint or shame there whatsoever. I think I was wearing sweats on my first twenty or so trips. The bun is perfectly sized, buttered and toasted. Seriously, that bun is the jam. But the patties! They’re perfectly sized and cooked just right and SO JUICY. This is not a dry, sad burger. It’s a run down your face kinda burger. The toppings are not too much, not too little, enough that you can taste it all but nothing overpowers anything else. I really can’t say enough about it. If you haven’t been here, just go ahead and go, you won’t be sorry. Load the kids up and make a day of it.
They also offer at least five kinds of fried potatoes, just further evidence of their greatness. I prefer the classic crinkle fry, but I’ve never had a bad tot there either. You’d be making a pretty serious mistake though if you didn’t get a milkshake to top it all off. It’s a classic dairy bar shake that comes with a straw and a spoon. If you’re feeling really wild (or really hungover), then treat yo’self to a Frito chili pie. Full disclosure: I’ve never had a FCP when I wasn’t hungover (it was college and it was right down the street from my dorm, don’t judge), so I don’t know if they’re actually incredible or if they just saved me from the Schnappsy choices I made the night before. I know the place is named Shorty’s BBQ, but I’ve never had any BBQ there, so I can’t make any comments about it. I’m the type of person who falls in love with a dish and sticks with it. If it ain’t broke, amiright?
Anyway, if you go to Shorty’s make sure and take cash, they don’t do credit cards. Get a fountain drink, they’ve got that good ice. Don’t expect a real fancy ambiance, it’s a local dive. I did notice they replaced all the duct taped booths though. Make sure and check out all the local newspaper clippings on the wall while you wait.
Also Worth Noting
This week I went over to Franke’s Sack It Grill downtown and grabbed a cheeseburger because I was in a hurry and it’s fast/close. It’s nothing fancy, but it’ll make your heart smile. Probably not your actual heart ’cause burgers aren’t so much a health food, but I digress… The man who makes the burgers also adds to the overall experience. He has some excellent one liners and always warns me that the french fries are “screaming hot” and I always burn my mouth and wish I had listened to him.
As an Aside
I have one recurring issue with ordering burgers out and it’s all in the assembly! Why in the world is every place still putting condiments on the same side of the bun as the lettuce/pickle/tomato!? Good lord. When all the toppings are on one side of the sandwich what you end up with is a lap full of mustardy, mayonnaisy tomato and lettuce! It’s a slip and slide of food! Fun fact: there’s a bottom bun! The bottom bun is the place where the liquid condiments go because then is gets all up in that meat patty which makes it more delicious and stops it from slidin’ around! Plus, everyone knows that while tomatoes are tasty as hell, when you put a condiment on there they’re the messiest hassle ever. Big shout out to my dad for teaching me the better burger assembly method at a young age and many more equally valuable life lessons.
1101 Harkrider St in Conway
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:30AM–8PM; Closed Sunday
*he knew what he was signing up for when he married me. I may have already had a couple glasses of champagne when this transpired…