Thursday, August 10, 2017
Black Angus May Be Little Rock's Most Overlooked Classic Burger Joint.
Black Angus has been on my radar as long as I can recall. The original location at Fair Park and Markham is at the back end of my memory (there's a Subway there today). Even looking at a photo from those days brings back the scent of charcoal-roasted beef patties.
Long before Burger King spread its aroma across cities far and wide, Black Angus was causing cravings across War Memorial Park. You could smell the beef on the grill as far away as St. Vincent's Infirmary.When the eatery moved to South University, I was still stuck with that impression, since our common travel route took us past multiple times each week.
I've long known Black Angus dates back to 1960. What I didn't know until I dug deeper was why Black Angus came to be, or how it's interconnected with other Little Rock restaurants of the past.
Click here to check out the old Lido Cafeteria location in the early Arkansas Democrat building, scheduled for a complete remodel.
Harper and Oathout decided to call the place Lido as a mark of class. And it was classy. Dining was somewhat different in the days before truly fast food - so everything from soup to steak to sandwiches was served on white linen. There was a big bag of treats for kids to grab from when families left. Harper's obituary mentions he wanted the dining experience to be memorable.
In 1948, Harper and Oathout turned to fast food with the Lido Minute Man at the corner of 4th and Broadway, pairing up with a couple of other guys. One of them, Wes Hall, would buy them out ten years later. This was the restaurant where the Radar Range came to be, where piping hot pies were turned around through the use of the elementary microwave, a disc of crust riding a napalm-hot sea of hot, syrupy filling. The restaurant's motto of "a meal every minute" brought in those who wanted their lunches quick, hot and cheap.
Those just encountering Black Angus today can be forgiven for thinking Black Angus was a singular restaurant.
Pardon me, I need to dab the drool.
Back when I was first driving, I'd go in for baked potatoes - just wrapped-in-foil, baked well and offered with lots of things to stuff them with baked potatoes. They were cheap back then and they're still a good, cheap meal - stuffed with cheese and bacon and sour cream and chives or done my way, with chili and cheese and onions and a fork.
Okay, so it's not a gourmet burger. It's not even the only burger with a heritage in the area (I'll be talking more about that in a short while). But it deserves some respect and admiration and yes, consumption by you the diner as a good, solid burger of repute.
Find one - or that pot roast or any of the weekly specials or so much more - at 10907 North Rodney Parham Road. It's open 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day except Sunday. Call (501) 228-7800 for more information or to place an order. And check out the website.
I previously wrote about this burger in January 2012.