About Regional Flavor
Fruit pies, cream pies, and fried pies are so good throughout Arkansas that one tends to forget that it also is one of the great barbecue states, its top parlors featuring not only masterfully smoke-cooked ribs and pulled pork but also out-of-this-world barbecue beans. The “Natural State” is a bonanza of fried chicken, especially up north, spicy tamales along the Mississippi River, and all-you-can-eat catfish feasts nearly everywhere.
Arkansas Regional Specialties
Fried pies are single-serving crescents of pie-crust pastry dough pinched around a lode of apple, peach, apricot, or sweet potato and deep fried until brittle. When cooled, they're easy to eat out of hand. When still warm, they warrant the a la mode treatment.
Many barbecuists around the country slow-smoke ribs to supreme succulence over hickory coals, but Arkansas masters add sensational sauce and side dishes to the formula. Ozark sauces tend to be tangy, peppery, complex, and so delicious that white bread dunked in them tastes great. Such magnificent sauce is a prime ingredient in the barbecue beans that are ribs' de rigueur companion.
NWA, locals’ shorthand for Northwest Arkansas, produces tons of poultry; and there are several restaurants in the region that make a big deal out of chicken dinner. Pan-fried chicken, of course, but also charcoal-cooked chicken and barbecued chicken: all are at their peak in this region.