We invite you to have “More Fun Per Gallon” in Arkansas this year. Each day we will be blogging on different Arkansas destinations which can be reached on one tank of gas or less. This is basically every corner of The Natural State. We hope these suggestions help you in planning a trip to remember.
Today’s Trip: Murry’s Restaurant in Hazen
I believe things happen for a reason. If things had gone according to “plan,” I would’ve been driving through Hazen before Murry’s Restaurant opened. My meeting ran late, and I knew I’d get home after 7 p.m. and I knew I wouldn’t feel like cooking dinner, so I decided to finally try Murry’s. I called my friend and colleague Neva Boatright, the superintendent of the Lower White River Museum State Park, and asked her to come along!
Murry’s is right off U.S. 70 a few miles west of downtown Hazen. You can’t miss it…and believe me, you WANT to find it and eat there…soon!
Neva decided on the quail dinner and I chose the grilled hamburger steak. We just had no idea what was headed our way!
First came the bread. This photo (or any of these photos) does not do the food justice. The bread was warm and yeasty and lightly caressed with butter. We were happy campers!
Our server was Becky Young, who along with her husband Stanley, owns and operates Murry’s Restaurant. It was started by Becky’s dad, Olden Murry. The couple have been operating Murry’s since the late 80s. As Ms. Becky gave me my plate, I asked for some Worcestershire sauce (I love that stuff on my beef). She told me, “Of course, but you won’t need it!” As she headed back to the kitchen, I took my first bite, and yelled, “Never mind…I don’t need it!” I didn’t…but she brought it anyway and I refused to take it. The hamburger steak was seasoned perfectly…it needed nothing but a fork. There was a light, seasoned pan sauce poured over the steak and grilled onions.
Neva was excited when she first saw that quail was offered on the menu, but after she took the first bite, she was even happier! According to her, the two quail were crispy, tender and moist. Both are dinners were served with salad and baked potato and both were exceptional. No cheap iceberg lettuce at Murry’s…that was Romaine! The baked potato was cooked perfectly. I know what you’re thinking…it’s a baked potato! Believe me, you can have a badly cooked baked potato. This one at Murry’s was piping hot, soft but not mushy.
By this time, Stanley has come out of the kitchen for a short visit, and brought us some of his special shrimp scampi to try. I like shrimp scampi…don’t get me wrong. But so often it’s just cheaper shrimp in a butter sauce. The shrimp you see here is NOT normal shrimp scampi. Stanley gets his shrimp shipped in from Louisiana fresh each week. This scampi doesn’t just “sit” in the butter sauce, it soaks up the flavor of the butter and the herbs and becomes super flavorful. If you add just a quick “squirt” of fresh lemon juice, all those flavors come together in a magical way!
I’d already heard that Murry’s offered some of the best bread pudding in the Arkansas Delta if not the state! I happen to love bread pudding, so I was game. I “forced” Neva to try some too. Often, bread pudding can be mushy or dry. This was neither. The consistency was perfect and the golden raisins added a dimension of sweetness and flavor that took the dessert over the top. The sauce…oh, the sauce! Buttery, smooth and yummy! The bread pudding surpassed my expectations. It’s honestly some of the best I’ve ever eaten!
As we sat at our table in a haze of “great-food-happiness,” I noticed a framed magazine near the cash register. Being the nosy person I am, I had to investigate. It was an award from “Garden and Gun” magazine. Turns out the magazine named Murry’s fried catfish one of “The 50 Best Southern Foods.” The BEST catfish! I was thoroughly impressed. That is no small feat with all the wonderful catfish restaurants in the South.
Becky and Stanley take pride in their food and their restaurant. They don’t take shortcuts. The menu features a variety of steaks, catfish (fried, blackened or broiled), chicken, and seafood.
Murry’s Restaurant is open for dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays. Wherever you are in Arkansas (or beyond!), it’s worth the drive!
Have a great weekend!