Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A Messy Chili Cheeseburger at Sam's Olde Tyme Hamburgers in Rogers.

I could say I've never met a burger I didn't like... but that would be a lie.  There have been some disappointments out there.

But not at Sam's Olde Tyme Hamburgers in Rogers.  Oh, no.  What I encountered at the red-awning decked shop on the east side of town was a messy, gloppy marvel of excellence, with a perfect patty beneath.

I dropped by one August afternoon on the way back from another assignment.  I saw a dinosaur, that's why.  No, really.  I was heading out to War Eagle Mill and saw the big green T-Rex hanging over a fence.  So of course I had to check it out.

I should have recognized the joint right off the bat, but I didn't, because it's not the same joint.  Sam's moved here in the past couple of years out to this bigger spot, which is why it didn't immediately ring bells for me.  No worries, I was here now.

I was immediately greeted when I walked in the door of the dairy-diner-styled family restaurant with its duel cash registers up front, specials board and a big rotating pie rack.  Of course, pie immediately got my attention, but then I read the specials board and saw a chili cheeseburger.  I'm a sucker for those.

I was quickly seated in a booth next to a group of three teenage girls.  I have a girl my own, but not of that age yet, so once I ordered that chili cheeseburger (with the suggested grilled onions, without the suggested mustard) I allowed myself to follow their conversation, which ranged from boy talk to other girls in their class to quick strains of songs sung, from Aretha Franklin to Dora the Explorer.

Yeah, it was a little strange, to say the least.

There was a couple celebrating a birthday at the next table, and I kept seeing big plates go by full of food, from chicken fried steak to fried pickles to ribs.  They all looked tempting.

And then this arrived at my table.


At first, my brain did not entirely comprehend what was before me, which first appeared to be a plate of chili that had attained some brief enough measure of sentience to rise from the surface.
Then it became to clear to me, this mountain of chili that had spread to every edge of the plate was consuming -- and I do mean consuming -- the entirety of this burger right before my eyes.  Though topped with some hand-sliced bits of marbled cheddar on top, it was apparent that the chili had won in this epic conquest of my burger's bun.

It was beautiful, brown and hot and steamy, and it cued my reaction.  Even after all the burgers I have seen and eaten, even after years of the state fair circuit and the collection of more than 200 different Arkansas burgers, even I was astounded and uttered a quiet "wow" on delivery.


My waitress had also given me the option of fries or onion rings, and I'd chosen those rings.  They were a 60 cent add-on but they were worth every bit of it, hand battered and crisply fried and rather sweet.  They were certainly ketchup-worthy rings, and I utilized the squeeze bottle on the table handily to make sure they were propery ketchup-laden.

But that burger... golly.  I was not kidding when I said it was consumed by the chili.  There was never any thought of trying to pick this burger up.  While the bun was firm on arrival, it slowly deteriorated into a pleasant paste under the weight of the beans and meat.  Forget a fork.  You could eat this burger with a spoon.

But I managed with the fork, enjoying those sweet grilled onions and the firm 1/3 pound patty.  All the time there was a voice in my head warning me of the gastronomic challenge I had taken on, with whispers of heartburn in my future. But I did not care. I pulled my fork through the puddle on my plate again and again and again.  It reminded me of the eating of chipped beef on toast, what my military friends called SOS, but with a flavor I could not refuse.

I had intended to consume half.  Nope.  It was all gone, and I knew that meant I had no room for pie.  That, indeed, was the greatest tragedy, since the first pie I had spotted had caught my attention -- a cinnamon-and-sugar laden lattice pie full of apples that was undoubtedly hand-crafted.  I heard other concoctions from the case mentioned, including chocolate meringue pie and icebox pie of some sort and a confection in a 13"x9" pan at the bottom that contained pineapple and coconut and heaven knows what else.  But my gluttony over a single chili cheeseburger and a side of rings had
made more eating nigh on impossible the rest of the night.  The vision of that apple pie still haunts my dreams.  I will return for it.

I did lament to my waitress while settling the tab that the chili cheeseburger was just a daily special. She let me know that it's always a daily special that I can have any time I come back.  And I will. Because I have no willpower when it comes to a really dang good chili cheeseburger, and this was one of the best I have ever tackled.

Sam's Olde Tyme Hamburgers
223 E. Locust
Rogers, AR 72756
(479) 986-9191
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I've had my share of burgers. I've logged more than 200 different burgers of worth just within Arkansas's borders. Yet...

Posted by Kat Robinson on Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Inside the Arlington - The Largest Hotel in Arkansas.

Hot Springs is known as one of Arkansas's most popular tourist destinations.  Nestled in between the Diamond Lakes, speckled with a plethora of grand, fun and friendly attractions, dotted with great shopping opportunities and blessed with world-famous thermal bathing, the Spa City is a top choice for travelers looking for the right place to kick back and relax.

The city's most famous accommodations can be found within an edifice overlooking the famed Hot Springs Bathhouse Row.  The Arlington Hotel and Spa offers 484 rooms with all sorts of amenities, from large historic parlors to thermal water piped bathrooms to a series of suites named after the celebrities who stayed within.  There's a traditional spa within that utilizes the thermal waters, and a double decker pool out back. Let's take a tour!

This is the second Arlington Hotel.  The first one opened in 1875 and had 120 rooms, which
was huge back then.  It was torn down and replaced in 1893 with this one, which 
boasted 300 rooms on five levels.  This particular Arlington burned in 1923.
The third Arlington, which still stands, originally had 560 rooms.  It's been
renovated, but still maintains its original glory.

This is the lobby of the Arlington Hotel.  TO the right, there's an acove where sometimes a band
will set up to play.  The acoustics are ridiculous... in a good way.

From the registration desk, you can see out into the vast space the lobby occupies.  There are
plenty of comfortable sections for conversation and good seats for people watching.

This is the Lobby Bar.  It's famous.  It's so famous, Esquire Magazine named it one of the top barsin the entire nation.  

There's also a self-serve popcorn machine and watering stand right next to the Lobby Bar.
Don't feel guilty.  Get a cupful.  

Nice historic touches are everywhere in the lobby, from the painted backdrops to the tilework
around the water fountain.

The Venetian Dining Room is the Arlington Hotel's formal dining room.
The details within are exquisite.

That ceiling... those chandeliers... that floor... wow.

This is the wine room in the back of the Venetian Dining Room. It's swanky,

Here's a menu for one of the Venetian Dining Room's famed Sunday Brunches.  Be sure to check
with the hotel on the current menu when you go.
Even the restrooms are fancy.  This is the interior of the ladies room by the Venetian Dining Room.
The hotel elevators date to 1969.  They are gorgeous.

There's a listing of downstairs options near the main bank of elevators.  We'll get to that in
a little while.

This event registration space is located on the second floor over the lobby.  It's also a
comfortable space for relaxing when there's not a function going on.

Convention facilities can be used for a variety of things, including meetings and dances and even
weddings.  A LOT of weddings take place at the Arlington, and many people combine a wedding
at Garvan Woodland Gardens with a reception at the Arlington.

The Arlington Hotel has an Exhibit Hall and a Crystal Ballroom, both of which are gorgeous.

If you're looking for a regal space for a formal event, this is it.  The conference rooms are less
elaborate but they're recently updated (which is why I don't have photos to share, yet).
The bath house within the Arlington Hotel is original to the current 1924 structure.  It offers
many of the same services that date back to that time, today.  And because it's
within the hotel, you can go directly back to your room to relax after receiving
a massage or taking one of the famed thermal baths.
You can really go retro with a bath in one of those original tubs or a nice steam closet treatment!
Don't worry, there's plenty of privacy.

This is one side of the cooling room.  The other has beds where attendants help you stretch out
and cool down without losing your dignity, er, towel.  For obvious reasons, I didn't take photos
of those ladies.  Mens and ladies sections are separate.

Learn more about the Arlington Hotel Spa here.
The spa is, of course, for the adults.  What I'm about to show next is for the kid... in all of us.

There are few other places you can experience a double decker swimming pool in Arkansas!

Especially with a view of the Hot Springs Mountain Tower!

The lower pool is shallow, and you'll often find kids playing there.

Above it, a deeper pool sits within a curve of the mountain.  

My daughter (in the pink suit) is all about that lower pool right now.

And don't worry -- one is above the other, but not right above the other.

There's also a hot tub above the upper pool with a restroom nearby. Leave your towels in your
room and use the ones on the deck, please.
After a dip in the pool, you'll want to relax in your room... which Hunter is doing right here in
our room back during Spring Break.  Want to see our accommodations?

This is a room with two double beds.  It looks out over Bathhouse Row.  I love the ceiling fan
and the magnolia decor in this room!

I also love the view through the window.

You can see right down the street.

And it's gorgeous at night.

I also love the old tubs in the bathrooms.
Of course, there are also fancy suites you can stay in.  The most famous of these is the
Al Capone Suite.  Capone's favorite number was 442, and the
bedroom bears that number. This door goes to...
the suite, which includes a sitting area...
A table for dining or meetings, and
a bedroom with a king sized bed!
Down in the lower level, there are a number of shops, including this neat retro beauty shop.

There are also gift shops and clothing shops, as well as an exercise room.
The downstairs, called the Arcade, makes the Arlington a true resort where you never actually
have to leave the building.  You can even go retro and see what your weight says about
your future.

And you can get just about any sundry you need inside this shop.

If you'd like more information about the historic Arlington Hotel in downtown Hot Springs, call 800-643-1502 or check out the hotel's website.

Take a tour of historic Hot Springs Bathhouse Row by visiting OnlyInArk.com, or tour the Fordyce Bathhouse from top to bottom on the Tie Dye Travels blog here. And for breakfast, consider crossing the street for a meal at the world famous, 75 year old standard The Pancake Shop.