by Jose Kevo
December 13, 2005
Clearly posted on the entry, a notice infers that meals are prepared by order and could take 30 minutes or more when the restaurant is busy. And, if that's going to be a problem, find a place that has a drive-through window! If you've ever worked in the food service industry, Sparky's is a dream come true with their no-nonsense approach. It must work. Every time I've returned, the place has expanded, and for good reason.
In a tourist-driven town where restaurants come and go, Sparky's retains prominence where the only thing more eclectic than employees is the menu. Even side orders include French, Swiss and Danish cheeses, Cuban black beans, Middle Eastern tabouli, Greek olive tapenade, and authentic Mexican salsas! I've eaten here twice over recent years and was disappointed that the giant biscuit consumed earlier was still weighing heavy, because this place is worth saving room for!
Housed in a vintage roadhouse eatery, the latest development has annexed the old two-pump filling station next door and turned it into Sparky's Ultra Lounge with loaded happy hour and other daily drink specials. The original café still has its 1950s-style booths, counter-top bar, and tiled floor generically accenting shelves packed with timepiece memorabilia. Unless you're also hungry for nostalgia, request to be seated on the covered deck that's available year-round thanks to retractable plastic walls that enclose heat without blocking the Ozark scenery.
Eight ounces of salmon or sirloin, prepared six different ways, is priced between $15.50 and $19, while everything else runs under $9, including generous appetizer servings that could easily be entreés. I highly recommend the loaded nacho platters. There's a large selection of specialty salads and vegetarian dishes, but house specialties are the roadhouse half-pound burgers with unusual toppings, such as Black Bean Burgers, with jack cheese, and crumbled tortillas; Kid Creole Burgers, with spicy butter marinade, jack cheese, and grilled onions; or Bistro Burgers of French brie, grilled ham, and sauteed mushrooms. All are served with fries and an extra patty is an additional $3.
Thick, juicy burgers make me drool and are hard to come by across the border in Missouri, where state law requires burger meat be cooked well done. Zeroing in on the Guacamole Burger, further stacked with cheeses, jalapenos, and my added request of black beans, I was surprised when the waitress asked how to cook the meat. Requesting as rare as state health codes permitted, let's just say I forgot this was backwoods Arkansas! The warm toppings were a nice contrast to coolness from the extra-rare meat. It was one of the best burgers I've ever devoured.
From journal Town & Country in the Ozarks' Alps