Ron?s Gets Three Stars (Business Lunch)

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Ron’s Hamburgers & Chili
1702 S. Walton Blvd. Suite 12

We’re glad Walton Boulevard is clogged half the time. Otherwise, we might have missed this gem of a lunch spot tucked in one of Bentonville’s trademark strip centers just five blocks from Wal-Mart’s headquarters.

Let’s just say the American Heart Association won’t be giving Ron’s Hamburgers & Chili its blessing anytime soon, but the Oklahoma chain has been in business since 1975 and we discovered why.

Ron’s delivers big, fresh, mouth-watering hamburgers fast and at a fair price. This isn’t a homogenized fine dining wannabe pushing $9 burgers and rubber quesadillas. Ron’s is an honest-to-gosh, spatula-wielding burger joint where grease isn’t a movie and a belly-busting meal doesn’t require a bank loan.

Diners might feel they need to work out afterwards, but if it’s a good burger they’re after, they won’t leave Ron’s feeling cheated. The decor may be as stark as a roadside diner, but the food is worth a road trip.

A smorgasbord of burgers, including those mixed with sausage, range from $2.25 for a single, one-fifth-pound patty to $7 for the chili sausage cheeseburger. Available toppings include hot pepper cheese, fried or raw onions, chili, bacon and too many other variations to mention, including all of the traditional ones. Side dishes start with Ron’s famous chili which sells from the cup ($2.50) to the quart ($8.50), and there’s a handful of sandwiches and even a fried chicken dinner ($6.25).

We started with a full order of onion rings ($2.50). The female diner in our group had to stop herself from eating the whole basket of beer-battered goodies. Other side offerings include fries with bacon, chili, cheese and Spanish fries ($1.75-$4.50), fried okra ($1.75) and a 75-cent bags of chips.

Our St. Louis native eyed the chili selections because they reminded her of the fare at another diner chain up north. She chose the “3-Way” chili with cheese ($5), a blend of chili and beans atop a mound of spaghetti. She asked for onions to give it some extra zip, but deemed the portion sized to keep two hungry bears happy.

The other diner couldn’t resist the Big Daddy ($5), a half-pound burger topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, mustard and three slices of American cheese. Like any good Arkansas Delta boy, he ordered Ron’s homemade coleslaw ($1) to complete his meal.

His burger was flavorful and the two were soon full as a tick at the blood bank.

We left the packed lunchroom, large go-cups of tea in hand, with both our thumbs and cholesterol raised.