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Big burgers for little bucks

By Jennifer Christman

This article was published December 26, 2013 at 3:32 a.m.

burgers-start-at-1-and-can-be-customized-with-additional-toppings-at-additional-charges-at-bar-louie-on-tuesday-nights

Burgers start at $1 and can be customized with additional toppings (at additional charges) at Bar Louie on Tuesday nights.

They say $1 doesn’t buy much anymore.

Well, they have never been to Bar Louie on a Tuesday night.

That’s when the lively Pleasant Ridge Shopping Center hangout hosts $1 Burger Night from 5 p.m. to close.

Big deal, one thinks. A buck for a teeny-tiny slider?

Oh, no. Louie doesn’t skimp. We’re talking full-size burgers with 8 ounces of beef served on a nice puffy bun. All that - and lettuce - for a mere dollar $1 … “with beverage purchase.” But who goes to a bar/ restaurant and doesn’t get a drink?

The beverage need not be alcoholic, although Louie boasts plenty of martinis (a friend gave high marks to her cosmo), cocktails, margaritas, mojitos, wines (a glass of grapefruity Kim Crawford sauvignon blanc for me) and beers. The week-day happy hour applies even on burger Tuesdays; from 4-7 p.m., enjoy $3 drafts, $4 glasses of wine and $5 martinis. Also available are several “nonalcoholic cocktails” and Coke products.

Burger night is by no means a secret, judging by the crowded shopping center parking lot and the wait to get in. Opting to sit on the heated patio (in theory, although there were gusty little gaps in the patio’s plastic covering), we were seated immediately.

We didn’t, however, get served immediately. It took several tries for our friendly server to bring us things like menus and silverware. And it took a while for drinks to arrive. Once ordered, however, our meals came out in no time, even if the confused food runner stopped at every table on the patio before finding us.

Back to the burgers. And to the chicken, portobello mushroom and turkey patties - those are other options for those wanting a $1 “burger” without the beef. They can be dressed up with as many cheeses, vegetables, “artery cloggers” and sauces as one can imagine … or afford. Toppings cost between 25 and 75 cents each.

So that simple $1 sandwich could quickly add up to a $12 splurge if one orders it with cheddar, provolone, pepper jack, mozzarella, Swiss, tomato, onion strings, pickles, grilled mushrooms, jalapeno, guacamole, bacon, barbecue sauce, spicy giardiniera or pesto mayo.

Those craving maximum toppings might look over Louie’s list of Specialty Burgers, which include the Chicago Stockyard (peppercorn, parmesan-blue cheese, mushrooms, romaine, onion, tomato and Worcestershire sauce). Regularly such creations cost in the $10 neighborhood, but on Tuesdays, they cost only $3.50.

My friend took advantage of that, ordering the Fried Louie, a protein-packed stack of beef topped with, well, breakfast - bacon, cheddar and a fried egg. It was a macho, messy burger that she ate lady like with a fork.

I also chose a beef burger, customizing it with blue cheese crumbles and buffalo sauce. My head screamed “ bacon and fried onion strings,” but instead my mouth said “grilled mushrooms and roasted red peppers.” They added not just color and texture but virtue.

The burger menu urged us to add a basket of tots or fries “for a little more.” A little more is $3.50, and by our new standard of Dollar Burger Night cheapness, that seemed like more than a little. But it was certainly a reasonable amount for a basket of seasoned fries big enough for two to share, with some leftovers.

Not into burgers, Tuesday nights or crowds? Bar Louie has a full menu of small plates, flatbreads, salads, sandwiches, large plates and desserts, served daily.

Bar Louie Address: Pleasant Ridge Shopping Center, 11525 Cantrell Road, Little Rock Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Sunday, 11-2 a.m. Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Saturday Credit cards: AE, D, MC, V Cuisine: American Carryout: Yes Alcoholic beverages: Full bar Wheelchair accessible: Yes (501) 228-0444

Weekend, Pages 27 on 12/26/2013

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