The “Hub Cap” burger…there may not be a more celebrated burger in Arkansas. Indeed, you’d be hard pressed to find a burger that’s received as much notoriety than this legendary slab of cow at Cotham’s. The folks at Cotham’s have even gone so far as branding themselves as the place where “the elite meet to eat.” They’re proud of their pseudo-celebrity status, but do they really deserve it? I decided to find out.
In my investigation into such claims to greatness, I determined that one must sit at the tables of the original Cotham’s in Scott, AR. So on a recent trip to the town (after a quick drop by Charlotte’s in Keo), my companions and I took our seats at the 1912 general mercantile store and quickly found three Hub Cap cheeseburgers gracing our table.
This burger likely needs no introduction to most Arkansans. The Hub Cap even received some national attention when Adam Richman of The Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food” paid Cotham’s a visit, ordering an ungodly amount of food, the dreaded and abominable “Quad Hub Cap.” While I find the show rather revolting and difficult to watch, I can’t hate on Richman too much for introducing America to a piece of small town Arkansas.
And so, the Hub Cap. It’s the first item on the menu and there was really no way I would have considered anything else on this day. I truthfully had no idea what to expect before it arrived. I imagined it would be big, and it was, but perhaps a little less daunting than I had dreamed up in my head. It’s a simple burger, there’s nothing artisanal or forward thinking about this thing. It’s beef, cheese, mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and onion.
It may have been plain on paper, but the Hub Cap was surprisingly good. It’s easy to see how it’s received such acclaim.
I assume Hub Caps are typically cooked to well done. We requested that ours be cooked to medium after we were never questioned how we’d like them done. Herein, perhaps, was one of our shining moments. You’d think that a place so accustomed to mutilating meat to well done would have a difficult time getting the appropriate amount of pink on a medium burger. But no, Cotham’s achieved a perfect amount of doneness. Warm, slightly pink center—the burger oozed beef juice with each bite. If there’s one flaw to the Hub Cap (or at least in the “medium” Hub Cap), it’s that the excessive juiciness proves to be too much for the soft, white hamburger bun. It takes some skill to keep the whole thing together, but it can be done.
It’s the essence of beef. A burger that celebrates the most important component of the entire equation. Well seasoned, cooked perfectly, and juicy. The condiments were simply the proverbial icing on the cake. If you haven’t been out to the original Cotham’s, get your tetanus shot, get in the car, and make the drive. It’s worth the short journey.
Cotham’s is located at 5301 Hwy 161 S., Scott, AR (501) 961-9284