Fortunately, Morrilton residents have a better choice.
The Morrilton Drive-Inn Restaurant has it all. It proudly proclaims some of its many specialties on the large sign above the door - "Bar-B-Que*Catfish*Burgers." Some have believed this means the restaurant offers a barbeque catfish burger. Well, not yet, but I bet if you asked for one the good folks behind the counter would oblige.
The restaurant, a longtime standard of the area, sits right off Interstate 40, cattycorner from Love's Truck Stop. The unassuming brick building's parking lot is often full of vehicles, and there's inevitably someone at the drive-thru window. But don't let the cars discourage you -- you'll want to stop and eat here.
But no doubt you'll be here when you're hungry - and whatever you're hungry for, you're likely to find it here. The menu includes a large selection of cold sandwiches (turkey club, chicken club, ham, tuna fish, pimento cheese), hot sandwiches (ham and cheese, grilled cheese, roast beef, chicken, fish), burgers (hamburger, cheeseburger, double, jumbo, chili, chili cheese, pizza, magic, super), barbeque (sandwiches, ribs, pulled beef, pulled pork, barbeque salad and stuffed potato), salads (grilled chicken, taco, steak), and Tex-Mex fare (taco basket, burrito supreme, grilled chicken tacos).
With a list like that, you can understand why there's usually a line of indecisive folks pondering the meaning of catfish or the existance of ribs. Fortunately, most folks have a good incentive for making a quick choice -- the delicious smell of good food and the sizzle of a primed grill.
Some days, the wait for your food can be as long as 20 minutes. But most days, it's more like five to ten -- depending on what you order.
Many of the customers that pass through here are truckers who have been let in on the secret of the restaurant, and residents of other I-40 towns who pick up an order on their way from point A to point B. I've been guilty of this myself. Oftentimes, on the road to my father-in-law's place, we'll call ahead and ask him what he wants for dinner. This restaurant is one of his favorites, and his favorite food at the restaurant is the hot fried catfish.
These may not be as good as the ambrosial pies at Ms. Lena's, but they are generous and tasty. I sat down at one of the open booths and proceeded to consume my cold pie while I waited for my order to come up. I also listened in to conversations by some of the regulars, at this time debating the fate of Houston Nutt and the Hogs. Morrilton may be geographically between the UCA Bears and the ATU Wonderboys, but folks around here proudly bleed Razorback Red.
About seven minutes later, I had my precious cargo and was ready to hit the road.
The repast from the Morrilton Drive-Inn Restaurant counts as what my husband and I call "kitchen food," food that rarely leaves the kitchen before consumption. He was happy to see me, but even happier to see the Super Cheeseburger I'd bagged during my travels.
The burger comes with hefty slices of tomato, shredded lettuce, hamburger dills and doses of mayo, mustard, and ketchup. Think that's a lot? The restaurant also offeres a Double Super Cheeseburger. Both of these big burgers are wrapped carefully in an almost-too-small foil wrapper and encased in their own separate Styrofoam containers. Add in some tater tots, and you really do have a meal for two.
The price for this repast? With the burger, tots, potato, mushrooms, and pie, my total came to less than $20. Prices are more than reasonable, and the servings are ample.
UPDATE 9-7-17 with photo credits and color correction. Also, there's now a Facebook page.