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Central Food 2

Only the Classics at Cotham’s in the City


Those who have lived in Central Arkansas for any amount of time know that Cotham’s is proudly “Home of the Hubcap Burger.” This meat monstrosity starts out with a 1-pound, cheese-laden patty, then you’re free to add slabs of beef at an additional cost. Some folks like to stare death in the eye, like a buddy who once took down a Quad Cap in my presence at the old Cotham’s Mercantile in Scott. Yes, if you do the math, after factoring in toppings and bun, that’s almost 5 pounds of food.

Absolute insanity.

I could barely take down a Hubcap Burger in my mid-30s. At 45 years old, my days of eating massive burgers are long gone. Sadly, so is the actual Cotham’s Mercantile after it burned down several years back. It was a tough loss, but thankfully, the Cotham’s in the City location remains as strong as ever at the edge of downtown Little Rock.

The Monday through Friday lunch spot has an atmosphere and décor that captures the essence of our capital city, with political signs from city and state officials past and present adorning just about every inch of wall space. The restaurant’s charm is undeniable, and the food, with a menu comprised of the classics, is every bit as satisfying.

To start off, I’d pass on the fried green tomatoes appetizer in favor of the onion rings. I enjoyed how the tomatoes were sliced thin and had that nice, tangy taste, but I thought they needed another minute or two in the fryer to help ensure a crispier texture. They would have been a perfect burger topper but lacked as a stand-alone appetizer.

For entrees, the aforementioned Hubcap Burger is a wise choice, but so too is the smaller, ½-pound option, as are any of the sandwiches, like the grilled chicken or chicken fried chicken. You can even get fried catfish strips between two buns, but I recommend ordering a 2 or 3-piece lunch that comes with fries, slaw, fritters, and hushpuppies. You’ll need to pop a few Lipitor beforehand, but the fried catfish, with its heavy coating of cornmeal batter, is worth it. Like any respectable fried catfish in the South, Cotham’s comes out piping hot, so give it a few minutes to cool down or risk scorching your mouth.

The chicken fried steak? Excellent. And it’s a real one, not some cubed oval of processed meat. Fried right and topped with cream gravy, this chicken fried steak is best with a side of mashed potatoes. Let’s face it, no chicken fried steak is complete without them, nor is a hamburger steak. Cotham’s version comes seared on the flattop–giving it a wonderful crust–then smothered with thick-cut red onions and brown gravy.

You will need a nap after this meal, so don’t expect to be too productive after getting back to the office. The comfort food classics tend to have that effect, and Cotham’s in the City knows a thing or two about that department.

Did You Know?

Cotham’s in the City has a Daily Special. Monday: ½ Burger Steak, Tuesday: Chicken & Dumplings, Wednesday: Chicken Fried Steak, Thursday: Fried Chicken, Friday: Fried Pork Chops.

Cotham’s in the City
1401 W 3rd St (Little Rock)
Phone: (501) 370-9177
Hours: Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

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Kevin Shalin is a food writer living in Little Rock with his wife, Sara, and one daughter, Sydney. His oldest daughter, Natalie, is a freshman at Loyola University in Chicago. He started his own blog, The Mighty Rib, twelve years ago while living in Houston. Six months later, he began writing for Eating Our Words, a Houston Press food blog. After a year in Boston, he moved to Little Rock, where he’s been for ten years. During that time, he’s written for publications like Little Rock Soiree, Arkansas Times, AY Magazine, and The Local Palate.

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2 responses to “Only the Classics at Cotham’s in the City”

  1. Cecil Hill says:

    I have never understood why when a business such as these that have very good articles about their restaurant and food etc…………But they never list their address…..I read all the enfo on each one……The address would have scored a customer had there been one…

  2. Hi Cecil! The address is at the very bottom of the story. 1401 W 3rd St (Little Rock)

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