Sadly, the original Cotham’s Mercantile, perched on stilts above a slow-flowing river in Scott, burnt down in 2017. But the Little Rock location still thrives and continues to serve what made Cotham’s a destination dear to the heart of adventurous eaters: fine plate lunch and huge hamburgers.
Customers come for hearty noonday meals built around catfish, chicken-fried steak, or chicken-fried chicken smothered with white gravy, and such daily specials as chicken & dumplings (Tuesday), Southern-fried chicken (Thursday), and pork chops (Friday). Side dishes include corn fritters, hush puppies, collard greens, mac & cheese, and blackeyed peas.
There are salads and sandwiches, too, but the king of this menu is known as a Hubcap Cheeseburger. It is an immense circle of cooked ground beef – close to a foot in diameter and a half-inch thick – that comes in a bun that nearly fits, dressed with a salad’s worth of mustard, lettuce, tomato slices, pickles, and hoops of onion. Incredibly, it is possible to lift it with two hands from plate to mouth. The outlandish specialty has earned such renown that the store’s push-pin map of the United States has no room left for any more pins to show where Hupcap-loving customers have come from; business cards from visitors around the globe are tacked up all around it. Extremely hungry groups can order a quadruple hubcap burger for all of $25.99.
Desserts include a variety of Arkansas fried pies: apple, peach, cherry, chocolate, and apricot.