- SOME LIKE IT HOT: The South of the Border dog.
This reviewer likes places that do one thing well instead of 20 things mediocre. Our favorite catfish place in the known universe is Georgetown One-Stop, near the White River in White County. Fried catfish is all they do, and they do it spectacularly — firm, buttery, flavorful catfish that's never seen the inside of a freezer. Our current favorite cheeseburger is to be found at Five Guys Burgers and Fries in North Little Rock. Other than an afterthought hot dog or two, burgers are all they do at Five Guys, and they do burgers amazingly well. (Sorry Cotham's, Buffalo Grill, Sports Page, etc. You'll always have a place in my heart.)
That's why I have come to really love Perciful's Famous Hot Dogs in East End. They've got stuff like nachos and Frito pie, but all they really do is chili dogs: polish dogs, cheese dogs and their Perciful's Classic, all slathered in homemade (beanless) chili, homemade slaw, onions, cheese, and jalapenos if you like the heat. As with other joints that do only one thing, that focus pays off. By my way of thinking, these are the chili dogs of chilidogness, and it just doesn't get much better.
If the name sounds familiar, it should, if you've been around Little Rock for awhile. The original Perciful's Hot Dogs opened on Roosevelt Road in the 1940s. The new place is surely shorter on character, but still up to snuff on flavor.
Though the website lists its address as Little Rock, it's actually quite a jaunt out to Perciful's, especially if you take Arch Street. Keep an eye out for the sign. It's easy to miss — look for the strip mall right across the street from the old Harvest Foods.
There are four ways to get a foot-long at Perciful's (eight, really, if you count the fact that you can get either a skinny wiener or a fat Polish sausage). At the top of the list is Perciful's Classic ($4.99 regular, $6.99 Polish), which comes with only slaw and chili. Down the row are the Cheese Royal ($5.49 regular, $7.49 Polish), which features slaw, chili, and — crucial in our way of thinking — American cheese; the South of the Border ($5.99 regular, $7.99 Polish), with nacho cheese sauce and jalapenos; and the Naked ($2.49 regular, $4.99 Polish), which is, well, just meat and a bun. You can also add onions or jalapenos for 49 cents to any dog, kraut for 69 cents, or extra chili and slaw for 89 cents.
This reviewer has sampled the Polish Classic and the Cheese Royal, and they're both lovely. While we generally prefer some legumes in our chili, this is really great bean-free chili: spicy, rich, meaty, and full of enough goodies to stain your napkin day-glo orange when you wipe your mouth. As for the slaw, I originally wasn't sold on its finely minced texture and subtle flavor, but it's growing on me. Slaw on a chilidog is a blessing and a curse, especially if it's too sweet, and Perciful's seems to know that.
I know this review will likely set off a whole new skirmish in the war over who has the best chilidog in Little Rock, but listen, Perciful's makes a dang fine foot-long — maybe the best around. If you're a fan, take a ride out to East End and give it a shot at your own personal crown. I think you won't be sorry.
Perciful's Famous Hot Dogs
20400 Arch St.
For dessert, Perciful's features some dynamite scratch-built cobblers and pies. We had the blackberry cobbler, and — while we should have had them heat it — it was a sweet, perfect knockout.
11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
All credit cards accepted