There has been a lot of hubbub over the North Little Rock Streamliner-style diner these past few years. It’s changed hands, it’s battled with whether or not it’ll be 24 hours… but one thing’s for sure: its burgers typify the American Classic style.
Starlite Diner offers seven variations on its griddle-fried burger. The Original ($5.25, $6.25 with cheese) comes with green leaf lettuce, tomato, white onion and ridged hamburger dills and choice of condiments, along with a handful of fries.
Like most good classic burgers, The Original comes on a toasted bun speckled with sesame seeds. In this case, it’s a buttered bun — which adds a nice extra layer of moisture and salt to the sandwich. The meat has a nice char to it, not over the top. Inside, it’s medium well. You don’t get an option on that.
The fries are skin-on, sometimes spot-on and sometimes a little spiritless. They almost always come a little undersalted, an easy fix.
All together, it’s a pretty decent burger. You can double up on the patties for $2 more or go for other variations — including the Levy Burger (same with bacon and cheesE), the Swiss Patty Melt (with caramelized onions on rye), the Buffalo Burger (with buffalo sauce, Swiss cheese and blue cheese crumbles) and the Japaleno Cheeseburger (jalapenos, pepper jack cheese and “Bub” sauce, whatever that is).
I still maintain that the best burger on the menu is the MacArthur Chili Cheeseburger ($7.95). The buns are turned inside-down on the plate, a beef patty is put on top in the middle and the whole affair is smothered in homemade chili, Cheddar shreds and white onion bits. It’s the chili that really makes it great, a beef-bean-tomato chili that soaks into the bun and patty equally. But I’ve talked about that before.
If there is one gripe I have about the burgers at Starlite Diner, it’s that they’re a little pricey for what you get. These aren’t gourmet burgers, they’re road food, and they should be accorded the same sort of pricing structure.
You’ll find Starlite Diner at Military Road and MacArthur Drive in North Little Rock. I’d give you a phone number, but both the numbers I have for them won’t connect this morning. Still, they have a Facebook check-in page.
I guess that’s something.