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story.lead_photo.caption The Cheeeesy burger, served here with onion rings, has not just four “Es” but four slices of cheese at Wayback Burgers in Little Rock. - Photo by Jennifer Christman

Wayback Burgers could certainly set one's diet way back.

The Nine Patty Burger ($19.99) is an actual item on the menu of the Connecticut-based burger chain that recently opened a location in west Little Rock's Chenal Curve shopping center.

And speaking of "curves," the strip also houses Body Sculpture of Little Rock and Orangetheory Fitness for those who need to balance out Wayback's beef, bacon cheese fries and Black & White milkshakes.

A thoroughly modern fast-casual outfit offering online ordering and featuring flat-screen TVs in its clean, compact dining area, Wayback tries for a mildly nostalgic feel with retro photos on the walls, and this philosophy as stated on its website: "Wayback Burgers is about serving delicious, fresh burgers and hand-dipped milkshakes amidst an atmosphere that hearkens back to a simpler place and time -- a time when 'customer service' meant something and everyone felt the warmth of the community."

Everyone we encountered -- including the owners (backstory: they live in Benton; a family member owns a Texas franchise) -- truly made us feel welcome during two visits. With plenty of comparable burger places nearby, we'd likely choose Wayback for the friendliness.

Friendliness ... and the fun sodas. On tap at Wayback are flavors of Pepsi's craft line Stubborn, including Black Cherry with Tarragon, Classic Root Beer, Agave Vanilla Cream, Lemon Berry Acai and Pineapple Cream Soda and Citrus Hibiscus Orange (and, for the less adventurous, Draft Cola and Draft Cola Zero Sugar). Drinks, including lemonade and ice tea, are $2.29.

Orders are taken at the counter and promptly delivered to tables in baskets lined with paper printed with Wayback reading material.

While there are signature burgers ($5.49-$8.39; beef or veggie), one can add toppings (like fresh, frilly lettuce and grilled onions, jalapenos or mushrooms) and sauces (like chipotle mayo, buffalo ranch and blue cheese) to their appetite's content without extra charges. There are four cheese choices: American, Swiss, cheddar and pepper jack. There is a 80-cent charge for chili or bacon.

Choosing a "Pick a Pair " or combo adds a regular drink and side to one's order: $3.29 for drink and chips; $4.19 for drink and regular fries; $5.10 for drink and full order of fries; and $4.69 for drink and onion rings. Without a drink, these sides range from $1.99-$3.69.

I couldn't resist ordering the Cheeeesy ($7.29) and in the cheeeesy, exaggerated manner the menu specifies ("We encourage you to pronounce all four E's when you order."). I ate the hearty burger with two flavorful patties and four slices of melty American cheese -- which was served on an inverted, buttery, grilled bun with my choice of toppings (mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickles) -- with a fork and knife and much enjoyment. I added a side of onion rings that were outwardly crispy, inwardly soft and just the right amounts greasy and golden.

My date's Double Bacon burger ($8.39) was a meaty mouthful, featuring two patties and four slices of bacon. To go with it, he ordered Irish Nachos ($3.19 regular, $4.39 full), homemade potato chips covered with chili, cheese, jalapeno and bitey raw onion. Admittedly, we like good old traditional tortilla-chip nachos better, but this would be a close second.

Other burgers include the Single ($5.49), Double ($6.99), Wayback Classic ($6.99, two patties with standard toppings), and the Rodeo burger ($7.39, two patties, cheddar, onion rings and BBQ sauce).

Wayback also serves two chicken sandwiches -- four if you consider they both come with grilled/fried options.

A friend reported her spicy, saucy Buffalo Chicken sandwich ($5.99), ordered crispy, featured "a juicy chicken breast with lots of flavor and crunch. The bun was even toasted and added to the appeal of the sandwich. The least exciting thing on the table for me was the fries, and they were good. Just not wow-good."

I ordered a grilled Chicken BLT ($6.79) to be accompanied by crunchy regular homemade chips (BBQ is another option). It was an average grilled chicken sandwich with bacon, nothing particularly special -- and for that I blame myself for not taking advantage of all those toppings/sauces.

Beyond burgers and chicken sandwiches, Wayback also serves chicken tenders ($5.49, original or Buffalo), a cheesesteak ($7.79), the WB Cod sandwich ($6.49) and a customizable hot dog (starts at $3.99). Other sides include bacon cheese fries, chili cheese fries, O-fries (onion rings and fries) and Mac & Cheese Bites ($2.99-$4.79, some come in regular and full sizes).

We almost regret we had so much fun sampling the interesting sweetened soft drinks (mmm, that Pineapple Cream Soda is like a pina colada ... and, if we were doing carryout, there is Legacy Wine and Spirits in the same shopping center!) that we never got around to having a Black & White, vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, coffee, Cafe Mocha, Cookies 'n Cream, Oreo Mud Pie, Oreo Mint, chocolate banana or strawberry banana shake ($4.59).

We'll just have to go back to Wayback.

Weekend on 05/17/2018

Wayback Burgers

Address: Chenal Curve shopping center, 16900 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock

Hours: 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday; 10:30 a.m.- 10 p.m. Monday- Saturday

Cuisine: Burgers, sandwiches, sides, shakes

Credit cards: AE, D, MC, V

Alcoholic beverages: No

Reservations: No

Wheelchair accessible: Yes

Carryout: Yes, call or order online

(501) 404-5858

Print Headline: Find your Wayback to burger joint

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