Prior to my days as a student at Northwest, I came to this town many times. Usually, it was for a football game that my family would watch with my dad’s college buddies. Most of the time when we could come down, we would stop for lunch at arguably the best restaurant in town at the time: Carson’s.
I remember the restaurant well. A classic sports bar and grill, and yet, it felt like something more. It was always crowded, a show of its high quality. I remember what I had the first time I went there, and it was amazing. I ordered a tenderloin, and it was the best one I had ever had.
You see, I am from Iowa. One of Iowa’s most popular local dishes is the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich; it is a fan favorite. I remember having a tenderloin in a Des Moines restaurant that served it in between two slices of garlic bread. To me, tenderloins are as much Iowan as corn is. So, imagine my shock when the tenderloin I had at Carson’s was the best I ever had.
In Iowa, tenderloins are mostly the typical flat piece of fried pork, simple and delicious, but in all its genius, Carson’s took it to the next level, as their tenderloin was a big hunk of meat covered in mouthwatering chili. Don’t even get me started on the cheese balls. Carson’s has forever ruined my taste for cheese balls, and I mean that in a good way. Like with tenderloins, they put in the extra effort to make a cheese ball that was better than I had ever experienced. They were so much better than any kind I had ever had; I can no longer eat cheese balls, because I know I will compare them to the far superior Carson’s version.
The burgers were also top-notch. I got those quite a few times. Those, along with the great atmosphere and the big fat steak fries, were always a pleasant combination. Carson’s was an amazing restaurant, but it felt different than the other amazing restaurants. It seemed to be the crown jewel of Maryville’s restaurants.
It was an amazing restaurant that I would dare to say topped Senor Burrito. Yet, it was more than just a restaurant. It was an amazing place that both students and locals could eat together. It was the best kind of restaurant because it was more classy than your typical bar but not as formal as A&G; it was right in the middle, where it should be. Maryville could really use another sports bar and grill as simple and amazing as Carson's.
The perfect restaurant would be one that works for a first date just as well as it works to watch the game and eat wings. I don’t mean a Buffalo Wild Wings; the charm that came from Carson’s was its locality. We don’t need a chain restaurant but one owned by a Maryville resident and loved by the people.
We need a restaurant to fill the Carson’s-shaped hole in our hearts that has been there ever since it closed. But I don’t know if that can happen, and I have accepted it. Local restaurants are often the best, but sometimes, they aren’t around forever.