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Craig’s Bar-B-Q, Twice in One Weekend

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Truth be told, I had no plans to eat at the iconic Craig’s Bar-B-Q in De Valls Bluff a few weeks back. I’d been a few times before and my sights were set on Oxford, Mississippi, to check out celebrity chef John Currence’s four restaurants, City Grocery, Big Bad Breakfast, Bourè and Snackbar.

But since we were taking the backroads to Oxford, and one of my car mates had a hankering for barbeque, there was no way we were driving past Craig’s Bar-Bar-Q on Highway 70 and not stopping for a few sandwiches on a late Friday afternoon.

It’s just what you do.

Established in 1947, Craig’s Bar-B-Q, along with McClard’s Bar-B-Que in Hot Springs and Jones Bar-B-Q Diner in Marianna, are what many consider to be the three most popular and renowned barbeque shops in Arkansas. And while everyone’s barbeque preferences are different, one thing is for certain, a visit to Craig’s is an absolute most for anyone calling Arkansas home.

The menu, like the restaurant itself, is small, simple and no-frills. We were there for two pork sandwiches, two beef sandwiches, and a slice of coconut cream pie. Within minutes, we exchanged a $20 bill for a paper sack full of food and headed to the parking lot. It was pleasantly cool outside for late July and there’s really nothing better than eating great food off the hood of your car, so that’s exactly what we did.

Craig’s has always been known for its sliced pork sandwiches slathered in a rich, savory sauce with a dollop of creamy slaw, but it was the beef sandwich that shined on this day, as well as the heavenly coconut cream pie that had an amazingly airy meringue with beads of sugar on top.

But as any good barbecue enthusiast will tell you, the best ‘cue is the early ‘cue, and my taste buds sensed we weren’t getting Craig’s “A” game at 2 p.m. on a Friday.

So, guess what?

On Sunday, we stopped at Craig’s again on our way back from Oxford to Little Rock. The parking lot was full and folks filed in and out of the joint with bags of food. You could tell they were regulars, as most people during busy times seem to call-in their orders. We were just out-of-towners, not savvy to the finer ordering details, but the 45-minute wait proved to be well worth it. Craig’s signature sloppy sandwiches did not disappoint.

Craig’s Bar-B-Q is an Arkansas food institution, certainly worthy of two visits in 48 hours. While standing in the parking lot, we ran into a loyal customer who’d once eaten at Craig’s three times in one day.

That’s true love.

Need to Know:

Craig’s Bar-B-Q is cash only, so please plan accordingly. Also, the cheeseburger is a must-order, if you can resist the pork sandwich. Better yet, order both. Craig’s also offers chicken, beef, pork, Polish sausage and rib dinners, as well as a grilled cheese sandwich. Meat can also be purchased by the pound.

Contact Information and Hours:

15 W. Walnut (De Valls Bluff)
870-998-2616
Open Daily 10:30 a.m.- 8 p.m.

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Kevin Shalin is a food writer living in Little Rock with his wife, Sara, and two daughters, Natalie (12) and Sydney (7). He started his own blog, The Mighty Rib, seven years ago while living in Houston. Six months later, he began writing for Eating Our Words, a Houston Press food blog. After a year in Boston, he moved to Little Rock, where he’s been for almost five years. During that time, he’s written for Little Rock Soiree, Rock City Eats, Treatsie, and Bourbon and Boots.

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