Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Burgers and Pie: A Brand New Ozark Joint Has Both.
This place I’m going to tell you about is just a couple of months old. Seriously. But it tastes -- yes, I said tastes -- like it’s been around a decade.
It’s the I-40 Travel Center in Ozark -- moreso, it’s Hillbilly Hideout, the restaurant inside. It could be the next great Arkansas gem in the making.
I stopped by briefly on my way to the Wakarusa Music Festival a few months ago. It was opening weekend and the place was packed. Mind you, that’s saying something, since a couple of football fields’ worth of concrete was laid down for all the expected traffic to the place. I managed to get some iced tea and noticed there were fried pies by the register, and I made a mental note to head back over that way.
Well, I went up to the Altus Grape Festival this past weekend, and right before I hit the road to come back I decided it was worth my while to head over to this travel stop and see if those pies were any good. There were a lot of people there, but nowhere near what I had experienced before. I had my daughter Hunter along for the ride.
Now, I should let you know, I was hot and exhausted and so was she. After we had spent a good portion of the day at the Grape Festival, we had checked out the Backwoods Arts Gathering up at Mulberry Mountain -- and saw the effect the 100+ degree heat had on that event. We wanted a good meal, a cool place to sit and plenty of iced tea to soak in.
As I expected, one whole side of the menu was dedicated to breakfast -- omelets, waffles, pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, biscuits and gravy and platters. Everything seemed pretty reasonable, with the most expensive item being an eight ounce ribeye steak with two eggs, hashbrowns, toast and jelly for $9.99. Most everything fell in the $4-6 range. There were also kid meals offered for $4.99 -- chicken strips, grilled cheese sandwich, corn dog, hot dog, hamburger or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on goldfish-shaped bread.
On the other side, it was a mish-mash of all sorts of different items. There were salads and sandwiches, soup and chili, a wide array of country style dinners such as chicken fried steak and grilled fish and open faced roast beef and pork chops. There were also a few Tex Mex items, and among the side items I was happy to see PurpleHull peas listed (though I would love to see sliced tomatoes and rice offered as well, but that’s just me being all Arkan-per-snickety). And there were desserts listed. And of course, there were burgers.
Well, I was already stuffed and I already had a box of leftovers and a fried pie, but I ponied up and bought a slice of that cherry cream cheese meringue pie to take home with me. And I have to tell you, when I got up the next morning I had it for breakfast and it was absolutely divine. And I ate that peach pie for lunch... and it was marvelous, with the center all spiced and falling apart and with that great homemade flavor...
So... there’s a little more to this story. When I was editing the photos for this piece, I noticed the sign on the pie case and clutched my chest a little. On the door it listed the different regular varieties, which included not only Possum Pie but the elusive Millionaire Pie (which until now I’ve only found at pie walks and Furr’s Cafeteria). I tell you something -- I have a friend bringing me a slice of that Millionaire pie right now. And I am looking forward to trying it.
I have to tell you, this place is so new that the phone number’s not in the phone book or on most of Google. But I have it for you. Hillbilly Hideout and the I-40 Travel Center at Ozark can be reached at (479) 667-0711. It’s open 24 hours a day and is located just north of exit 35 off I-40. Give it a try.
And there's a piece on 40/29's website about how they're offering green hookups for truckers.