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Statewide Food 1

Friday Night Lights Football & Food | Week 1


Arkansas high school football kicks off the 2023 season this Friday night. Not only is it a game, a community bond, a character builder, but it’s also a rallying point that brings people from all walks of life together with one common goal – to cheer on the hometown team. And what is necessary for any football game? Food!

Here is a WEEK ONE Arkansas high school football game preview and recommendations of where to eat for pre-game fueling.

Benton vs. Bryant, August 26 | Little Rock  – War Memorial Stadium

Salt Bowl 2023 will be played on Saturday night, Aug. 26, 7:30 p.m. (heat delayed kick off). The Benton Panthers will be the home team this year, and their fans will sit on the west side of War Memorial Stadium. The Bryant Hornets will be the visiting team and sit on the east side.

Bryant has dominated the Salt Bowl series for the past decade. The Hornets have won 53 games in a row and are coming off of a 12-0 season that ended with its fifth straight 7A AAA state championship win over Bentonville.

Benton had an 8-game winning streak before ending last season with a heartbreaking semifinal playoff loss at Greenwood. This season, the Benton squad has one of its best rosters in recent memory.

Something has to give, as the Salt Bowl currently sits at 24-24-2, but Benton has not won this matchup since 2005.

Go here for Benton tickets, or here for Bryant tickets. There will be no tickets sold the day of the game online, at any outlet, or at the gate at War Memorial.

CASH ONLY tickets may be purchased at Benton City Hall from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and also at Third Thursday in Downtown Benton on Aug. 17 or at Bryant Family Pharmacy, 3322 Hwy. 5 North in Bryant Mon-Friday 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Other Little Rock area opening season games:

Pulaski Academy at Joe T. Robinson | Little Rock
Little Rock Christian at Little Rock Central | Little Rock

Here are some food recommendations when headed to War Memorial for the Salt Bowl or the next day to cheer on the Razorbacks at their opening game against Western Carolina.

Doe’s Eat Place
Table 28
Sim’s BBQ
Trio’s Restaurant
The Root Cafe
Mt. Fuji
The Mighty Rib’s Favorite Places for Appetizers in Little Rock
Capitol Smokehouse and Grill
Star of India

Around the State – Friday, August 25, 2023 Games

Morrilton vs Russellville | Russellville

Feltner’s Whatta-Burger is an Arkansas institution and the perfect stop while heading out to the opening season kick-off.  Whether you’re looking for a burger or a sweet treat, you can find it all here at this family-owned restaurant in Russellville, Arkansas. You also can’t go wrong with Stoby’s (you must try the cheese dip), or my family’s favorite, CJ’s Butcher Boy Burgers. Keep your eyes on the news about Old South Restaurant reopening in the old Dixie Cafe location. We are all thrilled that they are coming back!

Watson Chapel vs Arkansas (Texarkana) | Texarkana, AR

Local favorite, Naaman’s Championship BBQ, began as a barbecue competition team led by owner and pitmaster Darby Neaves. Home to two trophies from the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue, their quality barbecue would be a perfect pre-game meal but do not underestimate their chicken fried steak. Fat Jacks, opened by local football legend Jack Mills nearly 40 years ago, is a landmark in Texarkana. They have an extensive menu but focus heavily on oysters and burgers. Or, head out early to get to Three Chicks Feed, Seed & Cafe, as they do close at 5:30 p.m., but their chicken fried chicken will be worth it.

Dequeen vs Mena | Mena

Grab your pom-poms and get ready to cheer because the wings and pizza at The Ouachitas will fuel your game-night spirit.  Top it off with one of their delicious coffees, and you will be ready for Friday Night Lights.

Nashville vs Magnolia | Magnolia

Backyard Bar-B-Q Company’s pulled pork and baby back ribs can hold their own against any in the state. Make sure to save room for a slice of Ms. Glenda’s homemade pies — they are a Magnolia institution. Another local favorite is The Mule Kick, a combination ice cream parlor, coffee shop, taproom and pizza joint. Highly recommend a scoop of Loblolly Ice Cream for the drive to the stadium.

Greenbrier vs Farmington | Farmington

After passing many fast-food restaurants on our way to the stadium, we lucked out, finding Blue Agave Mexican Grill.
I knew immediately that this is a family-owned Mexican restaurant, they were friendly and fast, and the food was fresh and delicious.

Arkansas is fortunate to have many family-owned, local restaurants. Seek them out and support them this football season. Go, team!

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Stephanie Buckley, aka The Park Wife, Wife+Mom+Founder+Tribe Builder+OG Blogger~ Community Entrepreneur, Southern-born storyteller, ❤️ Jesus. Coffeehouse Owner. Content Curator/Editor for OnlyinArk.com

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