The Hollywood Cafe

"Walking" in Robinsonville

Since I've started blogging about food, I usually write about where and what I ate during Thanksgiving. As for the "where," the dinner was usually in a Tunica casino that had a huge buffet for massive appeal. This year, because my family stayed home for the holidays, I decided to do something different. Instead of writing about another turkey and dressing meal, I wanted to focus on one of my favorite foods.
From past trips to Tunica, I've discovered that most of the casinos have a variety of restaurants ranging from fast food to fine dining. In that mix, some of them have "burger bistros" that are supposedly a cut above places like McDonald's. Intrigued, I researched some of them in preparation of another trip to Tunica. One of the places that I studied was Horseshoe's 8 oz. Burger Bar, a restaurant that's part of a national chain which isn't owned by the casino. While reading its Yelp reviews, I saw this:

With the caption "Best of Yelp Robinsonvile - Burgers" below it, I instantly recognized it as the place mentioned in the song "Walking in Memphis" by singer/songwriter Marc Cohn. Personally, I feel that the song is one of the worst representations of Memphis, for it depicts the city as a small, folksy, backwater town that's mired in the past. Particularly as it relates to walking, I can't see any conceivable way that anyone would want to walk to "The Hollywood" because it is a thirty minute drive from Memphis to Robinsonville, Mississippi. Heck, even walking from Union Avenue (at Bellevue Blvd.) to Graceland isn't an easy stroll (it's actually 5.4 miles in one hour, forty-eight minutes according to Google). Unless you really like doing it, "Walking in Memphis" is a very inefficient way to get around the city. Even if Cohn's description of the city was accurate, his song about it was a sappy way of doing it. If I was making a song about one of America's music capitals, I would try to do it in a genre that represents the cultural essence of it. "Walking in Memphis" has no resemblance of the Blues, Soul (although I'm sure Cohn was singing from the heart) or any other style of music that Memphis is known for. Even if Cohn had made the song better, his mentioning of "The Hollywood" as a Memphis institution is misleading. However, it is on The Blues Trail that leads from the city so there is a connection both literally and figuratively.

SIDE NOTE: If I ever get the chance, I will travel to New York so I can visit Tom's Diner (now known as Tom's Restaurant). The diner was immortalized by one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Suzanne Vega. Oddly, Vega and Cohn performed together on many occasions that included a date in Denver, Colorado in August of 2005. Unfortunately, Cohn got carjacked before the show (which wasn't in Five Points) and sustained a gunshot to the head during the attack. Miraculously, he didn't receive any brain damage because the bullet didn't penetrate his skull. Currently, Cohn is on tour as the opening act for legendary Blues artist Bonnie Raitt.

Getting back to the food review (and away from "Ken's Music Musings"), I decided to get the Hollywood Cheeseburger (a day after Thanksgiving) with fries preceded by an appetizer of fried dill pickles. I chose the pickles as an appetizer because of the restaurant's boast as the "Home of The Fried Dill Pickle" that's augmented by the claim that it originated there. Whether or not that's true (it's disputed by Bob Austin of the Duchess Drive-In in Atkins, Arkansas), the fried dill pickles were the best that I've had so far. Granted, my experience is limited (from visits to Hooters and Kooky Canuck), but Hollywood's pickles were very impressive. What I liked most about them was its catfish-style breading. Because of the light breading, the taste of the dill pickles shined. Surprisingly, the pickles didn't posses a strong brine/vinegar taste that was a turnoff (along with excessive breading) in past experiences with the appetizer. The pickles came with the restaurant's homemade ranch dressing, which made the tasty appetizer even better. Overall, I really enjoyed the pickles and recommend them to anyone living or visiting the Tunica area.

While the fried dill pickles were really good, the cheeseburger didn't provide similar satisfaction. The Hollywood Cheeseburger (cooked "well done") didn't taste much different from most places. It tasted about the same as burgers from places like Uncle Lou's and Dino's Grill. The meat was likely seasoned with typical stuff like salt and black pepper and not much more. Although the burger was average, I wasn't disappointed because I didn't go to The Hollywood Cafe with any expectations. That said, my first experience was positive and I'm inclined to visit again.
If I make another trip, I might do it on a Saturday night when the cafe (a slight misrepresentation of the place) features live Blues acts starting at 7 PM. With its location beside the old and fabled U.S. Highway 61 (one of the "Crossroads" of Blues folklore), it seems logical that the divey restaurant would promote music celebrating the many Bluesmen who traveled it while "Walking in Memphis."


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