We've closely watched the spread of burger joints on Conway's north side this past year. The two most recent entries into the market, especially: David's Butcher Boy Burgers opened up last November on the west side of I-40 at Highway 65; Wimpy's Burgers and Fries started serving last week on the east side.
Both stores are offshoots off well-established burger joints elsewhere. Wimpy's (not affiliated with the Chicago-based or UK-based chains with similar names) is a big hit in Southaven, Miss., and David's is a franchise from CJ's Butcher Boy Burgers in Russellville. Both feature burgers, fries and shakes. Both have red tables. But the similarities end there.
David's focuses on a very simple list of menu items: burgers, fries, shakes and drinks (there is a grilled cheese for the kids). Wimpy's, on the other hand, has a tremendously detailed menu with choices upon choices for burger toppings, sides and other sandwiches.
For the sake of comparison, we decided to check out the same menu options at each restaurant. We started with David's and ordered a burger with cheese, grilled mushrooms, grilled onions, mayo, pickle, lettuce and tomato; French fries, and a chocolate shake. That plus a soda is $7.68, but we paid $1.25 extra for the shake option (by itself, $2.95).
The burger itself at David's had a fresh flavor to it, which isn't surprising since that griddle-smashed patty started as a ball of freshly ground chuck in the case when we ordered it. The spice on the outside was very salty, stronger than what we'd experienced on burgers at sister restaurant CJ's. The bun was seedless, toasted on the outside instead of the inside. Green leaf lettuce and a couple of thin red slices of tomato came atop the Cheddar-cheese-coated patty. The pickles, grilled onions and mushrooms were on the bottom. The saltiness on the burger patty was fortunately confined to the outside crust. Overall, the burger had a nice, classic flavor, though putting the grilled items on the bottom made the bun very soft.
David's fries, cut fresh when ordered, were irresistible brownish pencil-thick sticks that quickly disappeared from our plate. The malty, chocolate shake was thick enough for a spoon. We had to wait for it to melt a bit before consuming it.
Our trip to Wimpy's was a bit confusing. We saw when we went in a "Fries & Shake Combo" and ordered that, believing we had just ordered a burger combo. Four dollars seemed a bit slim for that, so we went back and checked. Nope, no burger. That comes separate. We placed our second order and paid $4.28 for the burger.
At Wimpy's, there are dozens of different topping options, but we made our order identical to what we had at David's: cheese, grilled mushrooms, grilled onions, mayo, pickle, lettuce and tomato. We picked sweet potato fries, Bats & Balls (beer-battered jack cheese sticks and cornmeal-coated Cheddar cheese balls) and a chocolate shake to round out the order.
Wimpy's burger comes on a split-top seedless butter bun. The green leaf lettuce and red tomato slices were fresh, just like David's. The grilled onions and mushrooms were applied just above the Cheddar cheese, which appeared to have been dropped on after the patty had been removed from the griddle. The patty itself was a French onion-flavored burger, the sort of burger you'd expect to get with the application of onion soup mix with tiny bits of onion in the patty. Which made for a well-seasoned burger.
The sweet potato fries were crusty. The praline sauce with them was tasty but benefited from just a touch of salt. The chocolate shake was frothy and less malty than David's. The Bats and Balls ($5.25) were very tasty and addictive and delivered in a large enough portion to justify the cost.
It's a tough call to pick the better dining experience. While we admire the freshness behind David's items, we also like the options available at Wimpy's. In the end, we're going to say that David's has the better fries, Wimpy's has better side items and the two tie on burgers. Considering the proximity of David's and Wimpy's and the six other restaurants offering burgers in that one-mile span, it looks like a burger war is brewing in Conway.
David's Butcher Boy Burgers
1100 Skyline Drive (US 65B)
11 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat.
Credit cards accepted, no alcohol
Wimpy's Burgers and Fries
201 Skyline Drive (US 65 North)
10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun.-Thu; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri-Sat.
Credit cards accepted, no alcohol
The unheralded star on Wimpy's menu has to be its unequaled raspberry shake. The tartness of fresh raspberries balanced with a perfect creamy, milky and moderately sweet ice cream base is inspired. We anticipate trips to Wimpy's just for these shakes.