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Statewide Bee Branch Benton Bentonville Cabot Conway Des Arc Dumas Eureka Springs Fayetteville Fort Smith Hot Springs Marianna Mountain View Paris Prattsville Rogers St. Joe
Statewide Food 7

Top 20 Places to Eat in Arkansas


I live in Little Rock but love to travel all over Arkansas in search of great food. With that in mind, here are my (@TheMightyRib) Top 20 Places to Eat in Arkansas, all located outside of the capital city. In no particular order…

Rabbit Ridge Farms (Bee Branch)
Rabbit Ridge isn’t technically a restaurant, but they host special dinners, along with breakfast and lunch services on various days. It all takes place in a beautiful event center that looks out onto the farm. All proteins are raised right on their land.

Deluca’s Pizza (Hot Springs)
I feel entirely comfortable with saying this is the best pizza in Arkansas. The thin, crisp, slightly charred crust is wonderful with just Buffalo mozzarella or any one of the other amazing toppings. Those in the know will also tell you the wonders of Deluca’s cheeseburger.

Oliver’s Bistro (Mountain View)
I visited this gem of a spot last year on a weekend getaway to Mountain View. The Massey Burger is a hit, but really, everything at Oliver’s is a hit, especially any of the house-made desserts.

Café Rue Orleans (Fayetteville)

Make sure to get there early for brunch as Café Rue Orleans fills up fast. Portions are huge and dishes are heavy, but this is brunch, so feel free to get a little crazy. The Creole Shrimp and Grits, Eggs Pontchartrain, and Catfish Tchoupitoulas are must-orders, as is Thor’s Hammer, a dish highlighted by a poached egg, tender chunks of pork, seafood gravy, and a grit fritter.

Taylor’s Steakhouse (Dumas)
Deluca’s is to pizza what Taylor’s is to steak: that’s to say it is the best our fine state has to offer. The steak is insanely delicious, especially the 20-day, dry-aged, bone-in ribeye, which is only available a couple times each year.

WunderHaus (Conway)
WunderHaus specializes in European comfort food with a menu comprised heavily of locally-sourced produce and proteins. The restaurant has fun with specials, but staples like the WunderBurger and Farmer’s Daughter are not to be missed.

The Hive (Bentonville)
I’ve been going to this upscale restaurant located inside Bentonville’s 21c Hotel for several years, and the food rarely, if ever, disappoints. Executive Chef Matthew McClure is a multi-time James Beard Semifinalist, and while his breakfast, lunch, and brunch services are all good, dinner is when The Hive shines. Treat yourself to the signature wood fire grilled Berkshire Hog Chop.

Green Papaya (Fort Smith)
Green Papaya is a casual, no-frills restaurant that serves up Vietnamese food staples. The pho is excellent, but my favorite dish is the Beef Chow Fun. I always stop at Green Papaya when passing through Fort Smith.

The Whippet (Prattsville)
Go for the fried catfish but stay for the coconut cream pie. The fish, with its light, mild coating, is fried to perfection and comes with “The Set Up.” This includes sides of beans, slaw, hush puppies, and tomato relish.

Coursey’s Smoked Meats (St. Joe)
Coursey’s has developed quite the reputation for its smoked bacon, but it would be a disservice to travel all that way and not get a couple of smoked turkey and cheddar sandwiches. The plentiful portion of meat is sliced thin and rests between two pieces of white bread.

Bocca (Fayetteville)
Fresh, house-made pasta is what drew me to Bocca, so I was ecstatic when the pappardella with braised beef and pork shoulder ragu did not disappoint. Steak lovers should consider the 35-day aged filet.

Wright’s Barbecue (Fayetteville)
Deluca’s is to pizza what Taylor’s is to steak and Wright’s is to barbeque. This is without question the very best barbeque I’ve come across in Arkansas. The long lines support my claim. Get the Texas-style brisket or the bacon burnt ends. Both will melt in your mouth.

Dondie’s White River Princess (Des Arc)
I’m typically not a fan of buffets, but there are a few exceptions. Dondie’s is one of them. Go early on a Saturday evening to witness most of the Des Arc area chowing down on some of the finest catfish around.

McClard’s Bar-B-Q (Hot Springs)
It’s been a hot minute since my last trip to McClard’s, but that doesn’t mean the iconic restaurant doesn’t stick in my noggin. A dish like the Half Spread, one tamale covered with Fritos, chopped beef, cheese, and onion, tends to leave a lasting impression.

Mud Street Café (Eureka Springs)
A weekend trip to Eureka Springs usually means breakfast at Mud Street Café on both Saturday and Sunday. All the omelets are worth an order, as is the Veggie Hash Browns.

My Little Pizzeria (Benton)
Finally! We have true, New York-style pizza in Arkansas, and it’s only 25 minutes from my house. My Little Pizzeria is small, so seating is at a minimum, but what they lack in space, they make up for in dynamite pizza. The Lasagna Pizza is the signature item, but do not hesitate to order the Margarita Cold, a room-temp pie with fresh mozzarella, basil, tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, ricotta, and garlic.

Jones’ Bar-B-Q Diner (Marianna)
Every Arkansan should make the trek to Marianna at least once in their life for a pork and slaw sandwich at Jones’ Bar-B-Q. I promise it will be a memorable experience. Just make sure to arrive early or risk driving home empty handed.

The Grapevine Restaurant (Paris)
A trip to Mt. Magazine would be incomplete without a lunch stop at The Grapevine Restaurant in Paris. Try not to load up on the basket of house-made bread and honey better. You’ll need a little room for the meat loaf.

Saiwok Vietnamese Street Food (Rogers)
The restaurant’s eclectic menu is filled with items like Smoked Pork Belly Fries, banh mi sandwiches, rice bowls, and the Saiwok Lava Rock. The latter is a do-it-yourself experience, filled with bite-sized portions of shrimp or beef, zucchini, sliced mushroom, garlic, butter, and house-made marinades, all cooked up on a hot lava rock.

Pea Farm Bistro (Cabot)
Pea Farm Bistro’s menu, a sizeable collection of salads and sandwiches, is simple and straightforward, and wows you through a meticulous execution of quality ingredients. The Club and Cuban are must-orders. The potato salad shines, and the chili will warm your soul.

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Kevin Shalin is a food writer living in Little Rock with his wife, Sara, and one daughter, Sydney. His oldest daughter, Natalie, is a freshman at Loyola University in Chicago. He started his own blog, The Mighty Rib, twelve 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 ten years. During that time, he’s written for publications like Little Rock Soiree, Arkansas Times, AY Magazine, and The Local Palate.

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7 responses to “Top 20 Places to Eat in Arkansas”

  1. craig hannah says:

    How could you leave out Murray’s votes best Catfish I. The country by Southern Living?

  2. Rodney Moncrief says:

    Apparently you have not been to Hoot’s BBQ in McGehee, none better. You have to try the ribs, there’s a line every day at lunch and dinner.

  3. Max Wright says:

    Failure to mention DeVitos in Harrison is horrible. Also Neighnbors Mill which is now expanding in several towns. And T’s BBQ is slap you momma good. Gastons is great with the best Brunch on Sunday in Arkansas. For the records.

  4. Sissy says:

    Gabby Mexican restaurants one in Prairie Grove ,Arkansas
    Best Authentic Mexican Food

  5. Jeff says:

    The Bucket List Cafe in Center Ridge has the best (and biggest) pancakes.

  6. […] Bridges Museum of American Art as well as a variety of restaurants and other area attractions. The Hive restaurant inside the hotel features James Beard Award Finalist Chef Matthew McClure and serves […]

  7. […] love bacon, and, in my humble opinion, no one in Arkansas does bacon better than Coursey’s Smoked Meats in St Joe. High praise, I know, but what else would you expect from a place that has been open for […]

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