Brenda’s Country Cafe

Believe the full name of this restaurant. It is a genuine country cafe: live music on the weekends, all-you-can-eat catfish Friday; well-worn booths occupied by regulars; walls decorated with fishing trophies; and a priced-right menu that includes such downhome staples as chicken-fried steak, a pork fritter sandwich, and tater tots as an optional starch to accompany any meal.

There are platters and sandwiches at lunch, but it’s breakfast, starting at 5am, for which I’ll return. Portions are generous but not cartoon-large, except maybe for the pancakes, which are measured by plate-size rather than inches. A medium pancake fills a dinner plate. A large one completely eclipses it. They are good pancakes, light and tasty with enough substance that they do not become an endless syrup sponge as is the case with so many inferior diner pancakes.

Chicken-fried steak is fairly modest-sized. It is tender and deeply beefy, encased in a golden crust that stays crisp even under a mantle of peppery cream gravy. With tater tots on the side, it’s a wonderful mountain breakfast. That same good gravy is what comes on a basic “large biscuit and gravy” breakfast. The biscuit itself (also available in a smaller version) is fresh, tender, fragile-skinned, a joy to fork up by the piece and push through gravy or dip in the yolk of a fried egg. It is good enough to warrant ordering what the menu bills as a Haystack: that’s the biscuit covered with hash browns, eggs, gravy, and melting orange cheese.

No single item on the Hungry Man Breakfast is outlandishly sized — it comes with only a “medium” plate-size pancake. But in this case, the pancake is merely a sideshow to a grand meal that includes biscuits and gravy, chunky American-fried potatoes, three eggs, and a seriously oinky trio of bone-in ham, bacon, and sausage patties.

If you are a fan of good, old-fashioned, Roadfood town cafes serving excellent regional food to a clientele of mostly locals, take Highway 62 (aka U.S. Route 412) through northern Arkansas and stop at Brenda’s in Mountain Home. It’s a true and happy Ozark experience to remember.

What To Eat

Hungry Man Breakfast

DISH
Chicken-Fried Steak

DISH
Biscuits & Gravy

DISH
Pancake

DISH

Brenda’s Country Cafe Recipes

Discuss

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By Jane and Michael Stern Originally Published 1998 Gourmet Magazine Arkansas is roadfood-rich. From the oil fields of El Dorado in the south to the Ozark Highlands Trail through...

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