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Food 0

Open Season Sports Bar and Grill in Stuttgart


Ever been to Stuttgart?

This was my first time. The town, known for its duck hunting and rice production, is a little more than an hour’s drive from my home base in Little Rock. Truth be told, it’s a peaceful journey where you can admire the flat land and open farming fields. Birds are everywhere.

Once in town, you’ll notice the Riceland factory, home to the massively imposing, decades-old rice mills. The scene is worthy of a postcard, at least to a newcomer like me.

So, while I don’t hunt, I do love to eat, and my lunchtime sights were set on Open Season Sports Bar and Grill. The iconic, hunting-themed restaurant has been on my radar for a couple of years, and although it is not the only dining show in town, I did feel like my inaugural town visit needed to include Open Season.

So, let’s start with the actual setting. Everything about the restaurant is big, from the space itself to the jaw-dropping antler chandelier hanging from the ceiling to the taxidermy adorning the walls. Most diners, roughly 80%, were in full camouflage on this afternoon. Frankly that 80% might have been low. My friend and I stood out for our lack of hunting garb, definitely a first for me in a lifetime of dining experiences. The atmosphere alone makes it nearly impossible not to love Open Season.

As for the food?

The menu is filled with Arkansas essentials like cheese dip, steaks, burgers and fried catfish. Start with an order of white cheese dip. You can add chorizo if that’s your thing. The liquid cheese was absolutely divine, with a perfect consistency that fell right in the middle of thick and thin. Bits of jalapeno even added a low-grade heat. Devout cheese dippers will love this one. I also enjoyed the Spicy Pickle Fries, although there was nothing spicy about them. They came out hot and fresh, ready to make friends with the accompanying ranch.

Temperature proved to be somewhat of an issue for our Shrimp & Catfish Dinner plate. The fried catfish, specifically, was seasoned right and had a wonderful flavor, but it arrived at the table lukewarm. Ideally, fried catfish should be piping hot and crispy when it hits the table. This was neither. The crisper fried shrimp paired well with the slaw, a slightly creamy, subtly sweet variety with a touch of caraway seeds. I loved that slaw.

Open Season serves five different burgers. We decided to keep things simple and order the cheeseburger, although the Razorback Bacon Cheeseburger was tempting, as was the Open Season Burger with its two 8-ounce patties. The basic cheeseburger comes with a thick beef patty, mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and American cheese, all on a brioche bun. It certainly looked the part, but I did find the beef to be a tad dry. No worries, as a quick dunk into the cheese dip remedied things. You see, I’m a professional eater, and this was a pro move.

We split a piece of coconut pie for dessert, which wasn’t house-made but was baked locally. Cold and dense with a flakey crust, the pie hit the spot. The pie should have included meringue on top, but pesky weather, as our server explained, prohibited the baker from making it that day. I appreciated that bit of information.

In fact, I appreciated so much about Open Season. No, the meal wasn’t perfect, but the positives far outweighed the missteps, and I’ll certainly be back. Maybe for a dinnertime ribeye or filet while taking in a weekend concert (check the schedule).

Although, I might need to add a few pieces of camo to my wardrobe. It’s important to blend in.

Did You Know?

Open Season maintains a private club liquor license. Patrons need a current membership for entry to the sports bar. Cost is $10 and runs concurrently with the restaurant’s fiscal year (July 1-June 30)

Open Season Sports Bar & Grill
2307 S Main St. (Stuttgart)
Phone: (870) 672-4193
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

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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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