Sullivan’s Diner — down home cooking and … great fried rice?!?
No, there’s not a whole lot of “in between” when it comes to small, independent restaurants — they’re either great or awful. Sullivan’s Diner — located at 620 Lillian in Benton, Ark. — is one of those that falls into the “amazing” category very nicely. And it’s not just me saying that — the fact that the place only seats 32 people and I’ve seen it close to capacity a time or two speaks volumes. When a place offers up good, Southern cooking at a fair price, the word gets out in a hurry.
What do you get at Sullivan’s? You get the good home cooking you might expect and something more than a bit unusual — some of the best fried rice you’ll find anywhere. That’s right — honest-to-goodness Asian cuisine in a country cooking restaurant and a couple of options for it, to boot. Get vegetable-heavy fried rice or have it with beef, chicken and pork tossed in for good measure. Have it with a sweet and sour base or be bold and get it spicy (not so spicy that it will knock your head off, but spicy enough to demand attention). Garnish the huge mound of fried rice with dandy touches like fresh cucumber and you’ve got a very welcome meal that could easily feed two people (and costs around $8).
While you’re at it, try something that is very unique — a meat roll instead of an egg roll. What is a meat roll? Think of an egg roll that’s heavy on the meat and you’re close. It’s really something that can’t be described — get one and try it. You’ll be glad you did.
And, of course, you’ve got the traditional home cooking you’d expect. Do yourself a favor and stop in for breakfast one morning. The hash browns are crisp, the eggs are accurately cooked to order, the biscuits and sausage gravy will please the most discerning Southerner and the coffee is hot. Lunch and dinner are great, too, in that the typical burgers and what not represent quality diner food and the portions are more than enough to satisfy.
The atmosphere is laid back and friendly, featuring a wait staff that’s more than willing to take special requests. The prices are great and most meals are available for less than $10. The hours are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. all week long and I’ve only found one complaint about it so far — American cheese in an omelette? Make sure you request yours without that vile stuff in it.
Other than an omelette faux pas, Sullivan’s is top notch and well worth a visit. Heck, if you live in Saline County, Sullivan’s is worth several visits. If you live outside of the area, heading to Sullivan’s is worth the trip. Here’s some advice — first try the unexpected greatness that is fried rice and work you way to other dishes from there.
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.