Uh oh...

It appears that you're using a severely outdated version of Safari on Windows. Many features won't work correctly, and functionality can't be guaranteed. Please try viewing this website in Edge, Mozilla, Chrome, or another modern browser. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused!

Read More about this safari issue.
Statewide Altus Benton Bentonville El Dorado Eureka Springs Fayetteville Hope Hot Springs Little Rock Monticello Omaha Petit Jean State Park Rogers Washington
Statewide Food 1

A Round of Reubens for St. Patty’s Day


Growing up, my mom always made every little thing a celebration, which usually meant silly holidays became food holidays. For example, for the Lunar New Year, we ate frozen Chinese food. And for St Patrick’s Day, we always had Reuben sandwiches for dinner.

As a teenager, I was a brat about sauerkraut, and I’d make her make me a special sandwich without the kraut.

But today, I appreciate the quintessential ingredients of a Reuben sandwich.

  • Marble rye
  • Sliced corned beef
  • Swiss cheese
  • Special sauce – remoulade, Russian dressing or Thousand Island
  • Toasty and melty

History of Reuben

As the story goes, Reuben Kulakofsky attended a weekly poker game at the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha, Nebraska.  As a Lithuanian-born Jewish grocer, “his usual” through the 1920s and 30s was a corned beef with sauerkraut. He’d come to know these flavors in his childhood.

One day, the hotel owner’s son added Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing to rye bread. They called this change “The Reuben,” after its first connoisseur, and they added it to the hotel’s lunch menu. An employee later took it to a food competition for new sandwiches, and its notoriety took off. Subsequently, Omaha proclaimed March 14 National Reuben Sandwich Day!

As with most classics, many variations developed over time. The Montreal version changes out the meat, many use Thousand Island instead of Russian dressing, interchanging the corned beef with pastrami or turkey, and some substitute a homemade coleslaw for sauerkraut.

Some restaurants like Arkansas’s Feed and Folly or Skinny J’s create a Reuben egg roll by taking all the traditional sandwich fillers, wrapping them in an egg roll wrapper and deep frying them.

Great Reubens in Arkansas

As mentioned above, the Reuben became a “thing” in the 1920s, and nearly every diner or deli across Arkansas offers its version of a Reuben. You’ll even find appetizer versions and lunch pate options that make you take off your suit coat and roll up your sleeve. Whether you’re a purist or just like a great sandwich, the Reuben should always be a choice.

And, if you are a little timid about taking on this sandwich for the first time, find a lunch buddy who will go halfsies! My mom and I always split a Reuben and another favorite at our dining establishment for the day.

While this list tries to cover every corner of the state, I have to say my favorite place to eat a Reuben is in the spring on the porch at William’s Tavern at Historic Washington State Park. While it’s not an authentic dish of the 1860s, sitting on that porch, drinking tea, watching jonquils blow in the breeze, I’m reminded of a slower time where lucky days included writing letters to young boys off to war, waiting for a stagecoach to arrive, or buying new fabric for a ballgown and smoking meats for guest soon to come to the village square.

Williams Tavern at Historic Washington State Park | Washington – I just told you it’s my favorite Reuben anywhere. I like to get fried okra or corn nuggets as a side just because they are nostalgic. I typically share this with someone, and we get an extra side.

War Eagle Mill Cafe | Rogers – traditional sandwich served in Sylvanus Blackburn’s 1832 grist mill cafe.

Tailgaters Burger Company | Hope – Ryan’s Reuben is always a perfect alternative to a juicy burger. Personally, I like it with a side of fried green beans and homemade ranch!

Gandolfs New York Deli | Little Rock – it’s a New York deli and no one does a Reuben better. Whether you grab it at the counter or to go, they have all the New Yorker favorites, with the Rockefeller Reuben at the top of the list. And, yes, you can have it with pastrami, turkey, hot or cold, mustard or Russian dressing, and every vegetable you expect. I recommend you keep it simple and hit it with the Rockefella!

Silks Bar and Grill @ Oaklawn | Hot Springs – an authentic sandwich for more than 100 years in the same spot. While the corned beef sandwich is on the menu, many will tell you the Reuben beats it 10:1 every time!

Lilliehobbs Mercantile | Omaha – a traditional sandwich in an unlikely place.

Johnny B’s Grill | El Dorado—known for its “all-day” breakfast and southern American food, Johnny B’s is a diner delight. Its traditional Reuben is another stop on the train. Grab it with a side of homemade fries.

Weinkeller Restaurant | Altus – the housemade kraut is impressive and the reason to drive for a sandwich alone. Any place you want to peel back the bread and eat the sauerkraut with a fork, you know it’s a perfect bite of sandwich. If they offer to order the German potatoes as your side, you can eat french fries anywhere!

TJ’s sandwich Shop | Fayetteville – They take the  Brooklyn Bad Boy and throw sauerkraut on it to transform it into a Reuben. It was super yummy and melty but extra greasy and buttery to the fingertips, but I think that’s the point. I always love grabbing their soup of the day, so it’s a perfect combination because you can eat half of your sandwich and soup or go in for the whole thing!

Louise at Thaden Field | Bentonville – lunch with a view is always the treat of Louise, but the Reuben was next level. At Louise, you sit on the patio or by a window, watching plans arrive and leave. The way to fly here is with a side salad next to the oozy, cheesy sandwich.

McAllister’s Deli | 10 locations in AR—Go with me on this one. I know it’s a chain, but their turkey Reuben is off the chain. For the traditionalist, they have a Reuben and a New Yorker sandwich that throws out the kraut and adds brown deli mustard.

Mather Lodge at Petit Jean State Park | Morrilton—This is a traditional sandwich with thick-cut pastrami that’s easy to bite. Make sure you get those homemade chips and a side of ranch. My favorite part of the experience is sitting by the big window near one of the best views in the state!

Local Flavor | Eureka Springs – one of my favorite places to eat in town, and the Reuben is a perfect shift to traditional lunch plates. And they do have turkey and corned beef versions.

Leonard’s sandwich Shop | Monticello—To know Leonard’s is to appreciate the giant Reuben with thick, hand-cut corned beef on the flattop of this local food truck that will convert just about anyone to a Reuben lover.

Breitweiser’s Meat Market | Benton—You can cut a steak any way you want, but it’s all about the deli counter for lunch. They offer a daily special that gets most visitors, but the “hot Reuben” is on the secret menu and available to order any day of the week.

Meet the

Learn more about .

A little about .

Keisha (Pittman) McKinney lives in Northwest Arkansas with her chicken man and break-dancing son. Keisha is passionate about connecting people and building community, seeking solutions to the everyday big and small things, and encouraging others through the mundane, hard, and typical that life often brings. She put her communications background to work as a former Non-profit Executive Director, college recruiter and fundraiser, small business trainer, and Digital Media Director at a large church in Northwest Arkansas. Now, she is using those experiences through McKinney Media Solutions and her blog @bigpittstop, which includes daily adventures, cooking escapades, #bigsisterchats, the social justice cases on her heart, and all that she is learning as a #boymom! Keisha loves to feed birds, read the stack on her nightstand, do dollar store crafts, cook recipes from her Pinterest boards, and chase everyday adventures on her Arkansas bucket list.

Read more stories by Keisha Pittman McKinney


Visit Keisha Pittman McKinney’s Website

Like this story? Read more from Keisha Pittman McKinney


Join the Conversation

Leave a Comment

One response to “A Round of Reubens for St. Patty’s Day”

  1. Sara Ford says:

    Best Reuben sandwich in the area 🙂 : Heidi’s Ugly Cakes and Sandwich Shop, Norfork, AR
    You will not taste a better Reuben or Patty Melt -SO GOOD!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Submit a photo

We select one featured photo per week, but we show many more in our gallery. Be sure to fill out all the fields in order to have yours selected.

  • Accepted file types: jpg, png, Max. file size: 5 MB.

Regions Topics

What are you looking for?

Explore Arkansas

Central Arkansas

Little Rock, Conway, Searcy, Benton, Heber Springs

Northwest Arkansas

Fayetteville, Bentonville, Springdale, Fort Smith

South Arkansas

Hot Springs, Pine Bluff, Texarkana, Arkadelphia

Explore by Topic