Perhaps you have heard rumors of the legendary burger known as “Excaliburger.” Perhaps you have even attempted to acquired this mythical beast for yourself. Or perhaps you have no clue what an “Excaliburger” is…but you’d definitely like to learn more of this magical creature for yourself. Fear not, burger-loving friends…this myth has become reality for several in Arkansas. Let us tell you the tale of a burger nearly 6 years in the making, being served by one of Arkansas’ most elusive and anticipated food trucks, Excaliburger.
Kyle Pounders is the man behind the myth. The idea for Excaliburger began in the summer of 2009 at a time when Pounders spent his days rock climbing at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch near the Buffalo River. Around this time, Pounders would frequently bump into some guy named “Johnny” from Missouri at the Ozark Cafe in Jasper. One day Johnny had this diabolical idea to create a burger behemoth that consisted of the usual burger contents squeezed between two grilled cheese sandwiches. Pounders was immediately enamored with the idea and vowed to someday open a restaurant centered on such a creation. But it wasn’t until 2011 that Pounders was awarded a federally registered trademark on the name “Excaliburger” with the US Patent Office (it’s a great name…trademarking was a very good idea).
Around this time, rumors began to circulate within the growing Little Rock food scene about Pounders impending burger business. Excaliburger prototypes would occasionally be seen in fuzzy photos across social media outlets, stories were passed between friends about the burgers existence…though few in Arkansas actually got to try Pounders’ food. Still many expected Excaliburger to become reality as early as 2012. But alas, after several months, Exacliburger was nowhere to be found….these hopes faded into near nothingness and many forgot about the fabled burger. But to Pounders, Excaliburger was never a dead idea…its arrival was always on the horizon.
Fast forward to 2015. Foodies across the land began hearing rumors, once again, of the return of Excaliburger…and this time these rumors became reality. Pounders relates that the food truck he purchased in 2012 required much more maintenance than he originally anticipated.
“It was a very defeating process,” says Pounders, “I would go through spells where I didn’t set foot on the truck for months at a time. Every time I got one thing fixed, I would find two more things that needed to be replaced. Plumbing, electrical, drivetrain, refrigeration, cooking equipment, structural issues, etc. It was terrible. I even had friends putting bets on whether or not I was actually going to open. Hearing that was wind in my sails.”
But after 3 years of work, his food truck was ready for action. Excaliburger debuted in Little Rock only a few weeks ago, popping its head up at a few notable gatherings…the Main Street Food Truck Festival and Harvestfest being a couple of them. The truck is still finding its feet, so to speak, but is now making occasional, but regular, appearances at public gatherings. For many dedicated burger lovers, tracking down an Excaliburger has become an exciting and rewarding adventure. Now its your turn…
What makes the Excaliburger unique? Pounders calls it “a classic burger with very high quality ingredients and an insanely high amount of attention to detail.” He continues, “Every single detail of the burger has been and continues to be scrutinized heavily. I’m never happy with it. There is always more to improve and more to learn. I’m a one trick pony at this point and plan to remain that way for some time. Burgers…done well.”
The process of developing a burger that Pounders was pleased with was not a simple one. It’s immediately clear to me, after discussing food with him, the Pounders is not a man satisfied with the mediocre.
He says, “The ‘perfect hamburger’ is a very personal thing. There is no such thing as a perfect burger as far as universal terms go. What the perfect burger is varies from palate to palate. I broke down every component of the hamburger – beef ratio, type, fat content, pressing method, cooking method, type of lettuce, type of bun, toasting method of bun, type of tomato, etc…and found every realistic option I could come up with. I did a series of test kitchens with my family and friends and we lined them up one variable at a time and tried them side-by-side to see which ingredients I liked the best. Then I put all those individual components together to make what I consider for me, Kyle Pounders, to be the perfect burger.”
Today’s final product has changed a bit since its original inception. The Excaliburger itself consists of two 2 oz. patties on a challah bun made locally by Old Mill Bakery. Pounders prefers challah “because it’s an egg heavy bun that (he) can toast the piss out of and get this nice crunch on it.” Also, he says, “Challah has a sweetness that I find to be a good balance for my rustically seasoned burger patties.” He uses Creekstone beef “because they’re the most reasonable and responsible purveyor of beef (he) could find.” Locally sourced vegetables when they can be found…lettuce, tomato, caramelized onion. There’s a house sauce, but that’s it…no other condiments available.
If you’d like to sink your teeth into an Excaliburger, your best bet is to follow them closely on Facebook , Twitter (@TheExcaliburger), or Instagram (@excaliburger_) and stay dialed into upcoming food truck gatherings and events. You’ll find Pounders and his Excaliburger at the Arkansas Cornbread Festival on November 7th…so mark your calendars for that. But in truth, Excaliburger is still not exactly easy to track down. However, Pounders promises that soon they should have a more consistent, rotating schedule at various locations around town. You’ll have your chance, I promise…but you’ll need to be on alert.