Sonic may currently have the corner on chain operations attempting to replicate the historic pull-up-and-order drive-in, but a little operation in Mena does the chain not one but about eight better. Myer’s Cruizzers, in short, has it going on.
This article was originally posted here alongside a digital copy on the Arkansas Times' Eat Arkansas blog in May 2011. Prices have changed since then.
The old style order-at-your-station restaurant carries what you’d expect at such an operation — burgers, fries and tots, shakes and drinks and dogs. But there’s a whole depth of menu going on that caught my notice on two different visits to the southwest Arkansas city.
The menu is loaded — and your passenger won’t really be able to see everything on it unless they have very good eyesight and can read everything on the backside of the next stall’s menu board. Crazy things like Nacho Nuggets ($2.59/3.49, not a clue what they are); a Country Boy sandwich ($3.89) with beef, ham, American and Swiss cheese and fixings; the Flaming Cruizzer Dog ($3.59) with its selection of grilled onions, bell peppers and BBQ sauce on a Polish sausage. There are Pickle-Os and Texas Toothpicks and fried zucchini and fried green beans and whatnot. The menu is vast.
Yet the best way to tell the value of any operation like this is to try their burger. Myer’s delivers here. The single (#1 with mayo, #2 with mustard or #3 with hickory sauce) is $2.49 — 40 cents more with cheese. We took advantage of the special: a double cheeseburger, tots and beverage for $4.79, done up #1 style.
It’s a big flat burger. There’s a reason for this that dates back to the golden age of drive-ins. With a small griddle and large volume, patties that can cook quickly are a bonus, and the thinner they are the quicker they cook. This tight flat burger contained not one but two patties of ground beef in a very smushed round; shredded lettuce, a slice of tomato, ridgy dills and a few onion ringlets sat under the patties; two slices of American cheese glued the patties together and to the top bun. The toasted bun was buttered. Very classic.
The meat? Not a whole lot of room for flavoring, just the salt and pepper treatment and the flavor picked up from a grill used constantly every day. Yet it works — because it’s a drive-in burger. It’s meant to be eaten out of a foil and paper wrapper without falling in your lap. Oh, the tots were decent, too.
But if you drive all the way to Mena and don’t get a shake, you have made a critical error. Myer’s Cruizzers offers around a dozen different shake flavors — the expected ones like chocolate and vanilla and strawberry, pineapple, butterscotch, hot fudge and banana. But peanut butter? Mocha chill? We had to try the blueberry… and boy, were we surprised. Not content to just put a little blueberry syrup in the mix, it’s a blend of blueberries in their own sauce, vanilla ice cream and graham cracker, giving it the flavor of a blueberry cobbler or pie. Irresistible.
I have been enamored with the cherry phosphate and with the dipped cones (though I wish they’d dip them a little deeper and get the shell down onto the cone itself), but I just don’t feel like I’ve done enough research. Going to have to go back, I guess.
You’ll find Myer’s Cruizzers at 409 Highway 71 North. No website, no Facebook page but you can call (479) 394-5550.
Click to enlargen menu (2011 menu)