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. AQ Chicken House, opened in 1947, is the daddy of ’em all. Now a big, family-friendly outfit with a broad menu that includes ribs, brisket and blue plate specials, it sets the highest possible standards for pan-fried chicken. Each piece seems to be nearly as much crusty skin as supple meat. A great alternative is to have the chicken charcoal cooked, a process that yields spicy skin imbued with the flavor of smoke and a vigorous lemon-pepper smack. Barbecued chicken also is available. If you can’t make up your mind, the menu does offer a sampler platter of three pieces, each cooked a different way.
Meals start with featherweight, glossy-topped cloverleaf rolls hot from the oven; and among essential side dishes are a slightly spicy sweet potato casserole, batter-dipped French fries (insanely, deliciously oily), seasoned green beans, smoky baked beans, and real mashed potatoes. When you order your meal, be sure to put in an order for dessert. Fried peaches take a good 15 minutes to cook, and they must not be missed. Fresh — yes, fresh — slices of peach are battered and fried and served hot under a pile of ice cream.
There is a second location on Highway 71B in Fayetteville. 479-443-7555.