Thursday, September 25, 2008

Field Trip - Two Places to Eat Before You Die

........or, The Mother Lode of all Food.

I can assure you that we did more than just eat on this trip but most of our activities were not as interesting as the food.

Have you ever seen that TV show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives? The Farmer and I would love to take a driving trip across the U.S. when we retire and I've been collecting information about interesting places to eat so that we can experience our own version of the TV show.

One of the joints that would be at the top of any diners & dives type list would be McClard's Barbecue in Hot Springs. I've eaten pork barbecue in perhaps 8 states and McClard's ranks as number two. Number one was a joint just west of Clarksville, Tennessee, a teeny tiny place called Old Steve's Barbecue. Unfortunately Old Steve ran off with another man's wife and abandoned the place. Darn.

Although I love McClard's chopped pork barbecue, a while back my friend convinced me to try something on their menu called Tamale Spread. OH MY GOODNESS!! It's insane. The tamale spread is built from the bottom up. A homemade tamale (very large) is on the bottom, topped with the aforementioned chopped pork, their barbecue sauce, Fritos smushed around the sides and tons of grated cheddar cheese on top. We order the half spread because a full order is insane and you'd probably end up in the hospital. I simply cannot believe I didn't have my camera with me at McClard's. Here's a picture of a small amount of the leftover tamale spread that I had for breakfast the next day.


When it comes to large amounts of homecooked food, nothing can hold a candle to Lambert's Cafe in Sikeston, Missouri. For years we saw the roadside signs driving from Illinois to Arkansas. "The Home of the Throwed Rolls" the signs proclaimed. We were never quite sure what a throwed roll was, but Lambert's was home to them. The same friend who steered me to the tamale spread suggested it would be a mistake to miss Lamberts. Unfortunately the timing was never right because we'd be driving through Sikeston early in the morning or very late at night. We arranged our schedule to arrive at lunchtime.


As you can see they're the home of hot rolls and sorghum. I'm not going to bicker about the spelling because the food makes up for any errors. It's sorghum, trust me.


The inside of the place is choc-a-bloc with stuff....everywhere. Every inch of wall space is covered. There are more license plates on the walls that on the road outside.


This was my meal. Country fried steak topped with homemade mashed potatoes and milk gravy (of course), green beans and fried apples. Also on the plate is one of the side dishes that are all you can eat. In this case it's the most delicious fried potatoes and onions I've ever eaten. They also walk around with huge bowls of fried okra, black eyed peas and large cans of sorghum molasses for your hot rolls.


Here's one of the famous rolls. They are hot and delicious yeast rolls. Yeah, they're big.


What's unusual is the manner in which the rolls appear at your table. They're throwed. Literally. The story goes that a diner couldn't wait for the hot rolls to arrive at his table, so he asked the server to throw one across the room to him and thus the tradition of the "throwed roll" was born.


I've turned the music off so that you can hear the guys do their thing.

The Farmer was the desigated catcher of our rolls. He was the catcher on his high school baseball team and he hasn't lost his touch!


chocolatechic said...

Lambert's looks the same as it did when I was there.

Aren't their rolls superb?

Ya just gotta make sure you know how to catch.

jazzi said...

My problem at Lambert's is having room for what I ordered after they come around with all the pre-dinner food!
So... did you catch your throwed roll?

Simple Answer said...

Been to Lambert's - caught my roll!

Your blog has been looking especially delicious as of late. I need to go on a diet after just viewing it!

Karen said...

I'm looking forward to the video !! :-) I'm a little bit challenged in the catch department, so I'm not sure how I'd do having hot rolls thrown at me. ;-)

That Tamale spread sounds really good. Not sure if I want to mention it to J though, as he'll probably want to try making it.

I gave him a smoker for the birthday before the one he just had. He quite happily spends hours outside tending to his 'baby'. I have to admit though, his BBQ is getting pretty good!

Mary said...

Good Lord, I think I need to go take a spin class or something. I must have gained 10lbs. just reading...

Have you ever read any travel/food books by Calvin Trillin? Check this out:

Hysterical. I promise you will love it. :)

Louise said...

That tamale pie looks amazing. I love a good tamale!

I've never been to THAT Lambert's, but I knew about it which when you mentioned HOW MUCH food is why I guessed that because I knew it would be on your path. I used to live about 5 miles from the one in Ozark, MO. AND we have friends that someone or another of the family always has a job there, so we never have to wait in teh 1.5 hour line. The food actually doesn't do a lot for me (how can any person eat that much???), but you're right; it's the sorghum! Well, and the fried okra, and potatoes and onions. The meal is just for show.

belladella said...

Okay, you are killing me with all this food. I just finished lunch and I am hungry again.

Mrs Parks said...

Mmmmmm throwed rolls and chicken fried steak....
What was for dessert?

Pat said...

But what about the pie?????

lifeinredshoes said...

That guy has a pretty good arm, think he could throw one to Utah? And yes, what about the pie!

Kendra said...

Western KY has a few pretty good barbeque places...and they use the vinegar-based sauce, not the thick and gooey kind of sauce. 2 are in Paducah, KY (Starne's and Harned's) and another one is in Russellville, KY (Roy's).

As for Lambert's, I myself have not been there, but my grandparents used to go there frequently, plus my Dad has been there quite a few times as well. Yesterday when you said something about a place in Missouri, I thought you might be referring to Lambert's. :-)

Mamahut said...

Thanks Missy, now I have to go eat lunch #2. I could live on fried potatoes.

Karen said...

WOW !!! They do chuck those rolls around, don't they !!!

Paige said...

A little known fact about Lambert's--at least the original one--anyone in a wheelchair eats free.

Isnt that cool?

And the good butter for the love the potatoes too. My parents grew up about 50 miles south of there, so much eating at Lamberts has happened in my life--so long you did not have to wait for hours to get in like you mostly do now

Kaye said...

I have eaten at both Lambert's in Sikeston and at McClard's in Hot Springs! I grew up near Sikeston. That is the place my parents always took company. McClard's is a favorite of my husband's (and Bill Clinton's, too!)I've never tried the tamale spread. We'll have to go to Hot Springs soon!

Suzanne said...

chocolatechic - I'm sure Lambert's hasn't changed at all. They've just added more stuff. Oh, and now they have a photo booth in the lobby. I wanted to try it out but the Farmer was in a big rush to eat!!

Jazzi - I put the Farmer in charge of catching the rolls. He was the catcher on his high school baseball team so I knew he was capable. And besides, I didn't want any of those delicious rolls to hit the floor.

SA - Omigosh, you've been to Lambert's? I'm amazed how many people have eaten there in light of the fact that it's in the middle of nowhere. Well, it is right off the interstate but still it's a very, very small town.

Karen - Don't mention the tamale spread because he's gonna want to make one. I looked at my copy of McClard's menu and it's a large tamale, beans, chopped barbecued beef, fritos, McClards barbecue sauce and tons of cheese.

Mary - I'm going to check out Calvin Trillin. Currently I'm reading that other guy. Hmmmm, I'm having a senior moment but it's another humorous travel writer whose work was suggested by Cindy LaFerle.

Louise - Yes, I think there are three. One in the Ozarks, one in Sikeston, Missouri and one in Alabama. I hope they're all the same good food. We planned perfectly because they open at 10:30 a.m. and we arrived at 11, before all the crowds descended.

BellaDella - What was for lunch? Certainly not a tamale spread.

Mrs. Parks - The only dessert they offer is fruit cobbler. I can hazard a guess that they don't sell very much cobbler.

Pat - Disappointing. No pie, only cobbler.

Life in Red Shoes - I can pretty much guess that these guys play plenty of ball but I don't think they can throw a roll to Utah.

Kendra - I'm making note of those barbecue places because we occasionally travel through Kentucky. We do love Patti's 1880's in the land between the lakes. I especially love the pork barbecue and vinegar sauce served in those parts. Old Steve's barbecue was of that variety.

Paige - There's something I didn't know. Wow. I was sitting in the restaurant trying to imagine how many pounds of potatoes they go through every day. It must be phenomenal.

Mamahut - Yes, fried potatoes are one of the four major food groups.

Kaye - Get thee to Hot Springs. Order a tamale spread. Report back to the Farmer's Wife.

Thanks to everyone who takes time out of their busy day to visit my little corner of the world.

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Loved seeing this. What fun! Nay, what insanity! Hope that you all got plenty.

Merisi said...

Is old Old Steve's Barbecue open for breakfast? I am hungry for that tamale dish right now. ;-)

Any chance to get a fried green tomato too?

Kathi~Lavender, Lace and Thyme said...

I've seen your Lambert's on television sometime! it looks like fun and good eats :)

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

Oh, that country fried steak looks fabulous! Not sure I could catch the rolls though...I would probably miss and have it hit me in the head or something :)