Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lunch at the Last Minute Man Restaurant.

Hunter and I are exploring Scenic Arkansas Highway 7 from end-to-end this week. Watch my Twitterfeed @TieDyeTravels for updates each day on where we've been and where we're headed.

I've talked extensively about Wes Hall's Minute Man Restaurants before.  The chain, which started in downtown Little Rock in 1948, was once a very big deal with locations all over the place.  Today, the final location still operates in downtown El Dorado.

We made the Minute Man our first lunch stop on our trip.  When you pull up and open the car door, the scent of hamburgers broiling over a charcoal grill will hit you like a brick.  It's like walking up to a backyard barbecue.  The whole neighborhood has this essence over it.

Just inside the door, we encountered a line.  Two people were working behind the counter - an older woman and a younger man.  They took turns checking the burger patties on the grill.  Orders were taken, slowly.  One order would finish up and another would be on the grill, and the hostess would take the order from the next person in line.  There was no hurry whatsoever.

But that was okay.  We weren't in a rush.  The phone rang and orders were taken there.  People pulled up to the drive-thru and waited.  Burger patties would be plopped onto the ancient brick-and-bars grill right behind the cash register and burgers would be assembled on the counter next to the grill.

It took more than 20 minutes for us to reach the head of the line to order.  A lady in line asked me about my camera lens.  Hunter flirted.  The scent of those burgers grilling had stirred up an appetite for both of us.

We ordered our meals. Turns out, they were out of the junior sized burgers that normally came with a Magic Meal (the concept of which came along before the Happy Meal, thank you very much), so Hunter got a full sized
burger.  We had ourselves a seat.  As orders were completed, the hostess hollered out numbers and they'd be picked up at the counter. An older gentleman came out of the back and bussed tables.  It wasn't long before ours came up.

This is a lot like what Minute Man meals looked like when I was a kid.  Burgers wrapped in paper and fries in paper sheaths, brightly colored drinks - yes, and it all had that sort of charbroiled scent.  Except the cheese dip, of course.  This Minute Man added items to its menu in later years (like a few other locations), putting Mexican-esque items on the menu like burritos and a taco salad, and of course that old Arkansas favorite, cheese dip.

The cheese dip isn't all that thick, but it's fine with the thick round tortilla chips. I dipped my fries in it and that was pretty good.  It's a yellow American cheese dip, very smooth and with a little seasoning.

Hunter actually ate almost all of her burger, along with all but a few of the chips.  She sipped on a pink lemonade while we ate and talked.

Me?  The Big M tempted me, as did the Hickory Burger, but I ended up choosing a Salad Burger. This is a burger that
comes with shredded lettuce, tomato and relish sauce, that special sauce that preceded Special Sauce.  I was actually gifted with the recipe but never make it myself, since the recipe is sized in gallons.  It's a tart, sweet sauce that's somewhat pink, and it's very good with burgers.  The meat was thin but has that nice barbecue grill flavor, and the bun was seedless.

We took our time but eventually had to get up and go to our next destination, the South Arkansas Arboretum.  I think I'd eat pretty regularly at a Minute Man if it was brought back in Little Rock.  I'm glad I still have a chance to enjoy those old flavors, even if it does require a drive to El Dorado.

Minute Man
318 West Main Street
El Dorado, AR 71730
(870) 862-7995


Minute Man on Urbanspoon



15 comments:

  1. I didn't know that any Minute Man's still existed. They were ahead of their time and the food was always very good. I worked for both of the ones in Fayetteville, AR while in college. The cheddar cheese was wonderful, we made our own cobbler and cobbler crusts, the patties were made from locally bought meat.

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  2. Awesome Kat! Thanks for visiting our lil town..we love some Minute Man!! Goooo tiedyetravels!!!!

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  3. Oh, how I miss Minute Man in Jonesboro. We had two locations. I may have to plan a trip down to El Dorado very soon ...

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  4. It's nice to see these little places staying in business and thriving! If we're ever down that way we'll have to try it.

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  5. Oh how I miss Minute Man! And those "radar range" apple pies!!!! My husband and I ate there VERY frequently while we were dating/engaged/and then married.

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  6. Saw this link on FB and had to take a look. I grew up and El Dorado but have lived in Fayetteville for many decades now. When I was in high school, I worked for Minute Man near the mall, but would sometimes help out in this one. I believe the lady in the photo (I can only see her backside) is the owner. She was a manager when I worked there (~1977) but somewhere along the way, she must have purchased it. Do you remember the apple and cherry "Radar" deserts? So good and so were the burgers. Funny, I remember as a child being on the BOZO TV show next door at the tv station then moving to this restaurant for cake and such afterwards. Wow, what memories I've not thought of in a long time. Thanks for sharing. Steve

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  7. The best hamburgers I ever ate.

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  8. Was wonderful years for me, I worked 7 years . MFMurphy

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  9. There's a minute man still in Newport Arkansas

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    1. That'd be the Hungry Man Restaurant. It changed names when the franchise died off. Good steaks.

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    2. That'd be the Hungry Man Restaurant. It changed names when the franchise died off. Good steaks.

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  10. Jonesboro had 2 Minute Man's, and I worked at both locations during my high school days. Loved that job and the overall atmosphere. The one on Caraway road had a hugh game room with pool tables and pinball machines. It was the local hang-out for many of the youth back them. The owner of the one on Southwest Drive, gave me the honor of being "asst. night manager", I thought that I was really somebody!! Love the food and good times........CCH

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  11. I lived not far from there as a kid. Was always one of my favorite places to eat

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  12. what ever happen to those good old days i start eating minute man on broadway in little and then it come to jacksonville i still have 4 glasses from there that i got went i go there to get a great chedder cheese burger and fries the best there ever was

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  13. love and miss me some MinuteMan for sure...

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