Saturday morning at 8 AM isn't the usual time to crave a burger, but as I turned off 167 and headed toward Highway 64 last Saturday morning, I couldn't help but think about grabbing a burger at Bulldog Restaurant in Bald Knob.
Truthfully, I've been thinking of grabbing a burger there for some time. Like I said in my post about Johnson's Tasty Freeze in Austin, I'm nostalgic about these decidedly "old school" dairy bar style restaurants. They remind me of childhood/teenage years, and simply walking through the doors of places like this can make life feel simpler. I'd never been inside the Bulldog before because, quite frankly, it has always looked too busy on my previous times through Bald Knob. In fact, the place always looks packed on Friday nights. This is, of course, a sign that the food is good, but when you're passing through trying to get from point a to point b as quickly as possible, a busy restaurant can often signal longer wait times. If I'm driving 64 on Friday night it means my intention is to get to Memphis as quickly as possible and I Drive Arkansas is showing huge wait times on I-40.
At 8:08 on Saturday morning the parking lot was empty. Only one lonely vehicle sat in the lot. I pulled in, parked my car, and took my phone out. While the open sign was on, I wanted to make sure they really were open. A quick Google search showed they had opened a few minutes before so, I hopped out and walked into the restaurant for the very first time. I was greeted with a smile and I asked, "Do you serve the full menu in the morning?"
"Yes we do, but we have a breakfast sandwich."
"Actually, I'd really like a burger and fries."
"Okay, we can do that, but it might take a few minutes."
I sat down, checked out the restaurant, snapped a few pictures, and waited for my burger and fries which came out much quicker than I expected.
Since I was on the move, I took my meal to go, hopped back in the car and ate on the road. The burger was great. The patty was juicy, well seasoned, and flat top grilled just the way you'd expect. It was topped with tomato and a ginormous single piece of lettuce that stuck out from the sides of the bun. The fries, surprisingly enough, were crisp, seasoned fries. I was really pleased to see this as, generally, my primary complaint about a dairy bar style restaurant burger combo are the fries. Too often I've been served unsalted crinkle cut fries. These were a real treat, and I was very pleased with my meal. It is so great that places like this exist and some, like Bulldog, seem to be thriving.
Next time I drive through Bald Knob I'm going to stop again, but next time I'm trying some of the pie.
David Thornton is a two time national award winning writer, chef, husband, father, and fitness enthusiast.