For whatever reason, whether it’s small size, an out-of-the-way location, or just a lack of publicity, some restaurants tend to fall under the radar with a larger audience. This series takes a look at these Underrated Places. In this episode, we take a look at the venerable downtown burger joint, The Box.
Where: The Box (1023 W 7th St., Little Rock)
The Restaurant: When the near legendary burger joint shuttered at its former location at 17th and Main in 2010, burger junkies across the land mourned for weeks, lamenting the loss of one of the city’s greats. But the rebirth of The Box two years later at its current downtown gig was cause for great celebration and rejoicing. Even more exciting…the food is every bit as good as it used to be.
The Atmosphere: Perhaps key in the successful transition to the new Box locale, is the transfer of the old grill that once hosted so many lovely beef patties while on Main. Time has seasoned that steel, and there’s no other substitute for that. But the restaurant still only operates a few short hours for lunch on weekdays, which makes it tricky for some folks to make happen. This is, perhaps, the biggest reason you’ve never eaten at The Box, or don’t eat there more regularly. It’s understandable. Just make a visit next time you’ve got the chance.
The Service: They do sit-down service in a classic diner environment. Its walls are laced with black, white, and red…comforting to any Hogs fan, and there’s a just enough retro chrome, to make you feel like The Fonz could come busting through the doors at any minute. Staff are friendly, and some of them might even call you “hun” if you’re lucky.
The Food: It’s big, beautiful, greasy burgers…and some of the best in town. What more do you need to know? There’s nothing particularly new or fancy about them. There’s no wagyu here, no fancy imported cheeses or house-made chipotle or truffle-oil aioli (not that I don’t love such items). It’s thick, juicy patties, plain old American or cheddar cheese, mayo, mustard, and bacon (if your heart desires). But despite the lack of frills, the burgers are blissful…and that’s really all that matters. And the fries are no joke either. Freshly fried, crispy and delicious. A burger couldn’t ask for better companions. My go-to order: Double Cheeseburger with bacon and fries…and large Dr. Pepper.
The Price: It’s on the cheaper side…though not necessarily “McDonalds” cheap. Burgers will put you back around $5-9 dollars depending on how you dress it up. Fries are a few bucks more. And the fries can be doctored with an array of condiments (cheese, bacon, onions, etc.), if you’re feeling particularly calorie deprived.
The Verdict: Any self-proclaimed burger aficionado in Arkansas must make a visit to The Box at some point in their career. It’s a Little Rock institution that deserves the reputation it’s built for exceptional burgers and fries.
The Info: The Box – 1023 W. 7th St., Little Rock. Hours: 11 am – 2:30 pm Monday thru Friday. (501) 372-8735.