What To Eat in Arkansas
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.
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.
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Dandy downhome fare priced right, service with an ingenuous smile, live music on weekends & all-you-can-eat Friday catfish: Brenda's is an Ozark country gem.
One of the USA's best chicken restaurants, AQ offers fried chicken, charcoal chicken and BBQ chicken with excellent side dishes and fried peaches for dessert.
Stubby's of Hot Springs sets the highest standards of slow-smoked pork, ham and beef BBQ; its side dishes of smoked pit potato and pot-o-beans are unequalled.
Ms. Lena's of De Valls Bluff makes Arkansas-excellent pies, sold whole or by the slice. No indoor dining. All take-out or eat-off-the dashboard.
Blue-ribbon beef & chicken tamales emanate irresistibly appetizing aroma. No wonder Rhoda's is the pride of Lake Village.
A small-town Arkansas restaurant with a big culinary personality, the Grapevine is an oasis of home cooking, plain and fancy.
A destination for BBQ fans from Arkansas and beyond. McClard's signature rib and fry plate is a rack of meaty bones smothered by superb French fries.
Mr. Whiskers is the place to go in Hot Springs for platters of catfish (fried or blackened), shrimp and oysters. Sides include hushpuppies, fries and slaw.
Fort Smith's oldest locally owned restaurant/drive-in, Ed Walker's serves fine French Dip, burgers and onion rings. Eat in your car or in the 1950s dining room.