5301 AR 161
That’s what I mumbled to myself as I wheeled my suitcase past the gleaming new sign welcoming arriving passengers at the Little Rock airport.
“Welcome to Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.”
Are you kidding me?
After eight years of President Clinton -- and now the prospect of eight more years of another President Clinton -- can’t these people just leave me alone?
What happened to the days when they waited a few years after you were dead to start naming stuff after you?
You know, in case it turned out you did something embarrassing -- like molest an intern or something.
While I don’t particularly share Bill Clinton’s affinity for chubby interns and tax increases, I’ll follow the man to Texarkana and back on a restaurant tour of Arkansas.
Say what you will about President Bubba, but the man knows how to eat.
In the old cotton plantation town of Scott, Cotham’s Mercantile is geographically near the state capital -- but light years away in laid back attitude and ambiance.
Cotham’s is a century old country store perched on stilts high above the banks of Horseshoe Lake -- a cut-off bayou that was once connected to the meandering Arkansas River generations ago.
Not much has changed in Scott, Arkansas over the past century. The landscape is still blanketed with fertile farmland from horizon to horizon.
And farmers, locals, tourists and Little Rock politicians alike still creak across the old floorboards of the Cotham’s dilapidated front porch in search of an epic Southern meal.
The “Hubcap Burger” is what put Cotham’s on the culinary map.
It didn’t disappoint.
Yes. It really is as big as a hubcap -- nearly a foot in diameter.
But this burger isn’t just wide -- it is nearly an inch thick too.
We’re talking over a pound of beef here!
The beauty of this burger is how well it is constructed.
Onions, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise and meat all held together by over-sized buns that are actually up for the job.
I briefly considered taking my knife and cutting it in half. My grandmother would have considered that the polite thing to do.
But what fun would that be?
Miraculously, I was able the lift the whole thing off my plate and eat it like God intended with minimal condiment spillage.
A bit more well done and drier than I would have preferred (my waitress never asked me how I wanted it cooked), the meat was still very tasty with plenty of salty burger seasoning evident.
The side dishes were a major dilemma.
Cotham’s is almost as famous for its fries and giant hand-battered onion rings as for its Hubcap Burger.
The menu also offered the option to upgrade my side to fried green tomatoes for $2.75.
I couldn’t resist.
More yellow than green, the generous portion of fried tomatoes packed a powerful flavor wallop. The tart tomatoes and crisp thin corn meal breading was a perfect Southern treat.
It was a lot of food.
But not TOO much food. I finished every last bite.
Unfortunately, that meant I had absolutely no room for dessert.
Cotham’s is also famous for its decadent fried chocolate and apple pies. And for its Mississippi Mud pie.
I mean, what about Cotham’s famous fried chicken and catfish?
And those towering piles of onion rings I saw on my neighbors’ tables that gave me junk food envy?
Oh well. I’m sure there will be a next time.
After a century, Cotham’s Mercantile isn’t going anywhere. It’s the kind of place you feel like will always be in your life.
Just like Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Only in Cotham’s case, that is actually a good thing.
Rating: Seriously Thought About Buying Shirt.