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Burger Shack — downtown Benton needs more places like this

By: 28 March 2011 3 Comments

There’s no getting around it — downtown Benton, Ark., has lost the luster it once had.

That was the place where we’d go to watch movies, buy shoes and purchase office supplies. We got our Cub Scouts uniforms and Polo shirts at Gingles, picked up new suits at the the Toggery, grabbed the kids’ clothes at Jack and Jill or stop by the post office. A lot of us first saw Star Wars at the Royal theater downtown, checked out books at the Saline County Library and recall when almost all of the banks in the city were located in the area.

Downtown was, once upon a time, truly the center of Benton. That’s not the case so much anymore, although there are still more than a few businesses thriving in the area. Still, the area has been in decline since the 1980s and a good number of us do hope to see a renaissance of sorts in the area.

While the famed Old Frontier is long gone and is no longer serving up breakfast and lunch, there’s another great restaurant located just down the road from it — Burger Shack at 107 S. Market St. It’s open from 10:30 a.m to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday and is, frankly, one of the best lunch spots in town. It’s important to point that out because independent restaurants that crow about home cooking are typically dreadful or indescribably great. Burger Shack falls well into the “indescribably great” category.

Burger Shack on UrbanspoonAs the name implies, there are a lot of burgers served up at the restaurant and they are fantastic. How many restaurants brag about their hamburgers and then disappoint expectant diners with a slab of mediocrity slapped on a stale bun? That’s not the case at Burger Shack, kids. No, those burgers are generous in size and range from the kinda hungry “regular” offering to the go-all-out “hubcap burger” and are served up fresh, hot and with fries that border on perfect.

Ah, but it’s not just about burgers over there. The tamale platter, for example, is simply too darned good to be served up by a hamburger restaurant and is available for around $5.99. What do you you get for that price? Three excellent tamales covered with a thick chili that’s just got enough kick to it demand attention but not so much that you’ll have to refill that Mellow Yellow between bites. Throw some tortilla chips to scoop up that left over chili after the tamales have vanished and you’ve got a great meal.

While the portions are generous at Burger Shack, you might want to save a little room for dessert. How about a root beer float or an excellent piece of French silk pie that seems as out of place in a burger joint as, well, an excellent tamale platter? You might want to save some room for dessert as those, too, are great.

The long and short of it is this — you get a lot of bang for the buck at Burger Shack, a relaxed atmosphere that whispers “good taste” instead of screaming “you’re in a diner!” and a wait staff that is as friendly and helpful as Saline County folks ought to be. Want some advice? You can’t go wrong with a burger and you’ll likely not be disappointed if you pick up a $6.99 daily lunch special (I first tried the tamales that way) — the food is fresh and I haven’t had a bad meal there yet.

Stop in before noon to beat the lunch crowd, however. The restaurant has plenty of seating, but the restaurant has become quite popular in this town (and rightly so). If a few more establishments were added to the downtown area and they stayed open late, we’d have a thriving commercial area in the middle to town once again.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.

3 Comments »

  • Michael said:

    Sounds like a good place, but if folks in Benton want their downtown to thrive, they’re going to have to have restaurants open for more than just lunch. Parking is also a big issue downtown (like in most downtown areas). I live in Benton, but work in Little Rock – there’s no way I’ll ever be able to try a Benton restaurant that doesn’t serve some supper.

  • Ethan C. Nobles (author) said:

    I, for one, would love to see downtown open at night and I do hope Benton is moving that way. Here’s another thing we need — jobs in Saline County. A stat that is downright disturbing is that over half of the workforce in Saline County find jobs in Pulaski County. That’s a pitiful stat to consider now that we’ve got 107,000 living in this county.

  • Best burger in Saline County and maybe central Arkansas | First Arkansas News (FAN) - reporting from across the Natural State said:

    [...] in Russellville and the “diner food made with care” attitude that drives the owners of Burger Shack in downtown Benton. While C-J’s Butcher Boy is outstanding, there’s a burger joint [...]

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