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Central London Russellville
Central Food 0

Russellville’s Fat Daddy’s is All About the Sides


My family stopped at Fat Daddy’s in London on a recent family adventure. I’ve always seen the leaning pig logo when we passed this exit for over two decades, and we decided it was time to take the exit and grab a bite. While a trip through Russellville usually calls for a stop at Feltner’s Whatta-burger or CJ’s Butcher Boy Burgers, we thought it was time to mix things up. And I’m so glad we did!

Fat Daddy’s Bar-B-Que in London and Russellville is a family business all about people and authentic flavors. They serve all their plates and sandwiches with one of three sauces and keep a bottle of all three flavors on every table. I also love a bar-b-que experience with more than the big three expected meats – brisket, pulled pork, and sausage. Fat Daddy’s has all the meats. We enjoyed a smoked turkey plate, and I also saw pulled chicken sandwiches, half-chicken plates, burgers, and wing dinners.

Fat Daddy’s would be a perfect spot after a long day on the lake or chasing Wonder Boys at nearby Arkansas Tech. The London location is moments away from Lake Dardanelle and an easy place to grab a to-go meal on the way to a state park in the River Valley. The London store shares its location with a convenience store and a gas station with a drive-thru for BBQ pick-up.

Most people in Russellville know the downtown location, which is in the heart of growing economic development in the mid-city.

What is unique about Fat Daddy’s Bar-b-que?

Like many great Arkansas stories, Fat Daddy’s began with a great idea, an empty space, and the right question at the right time.

Gordon Shirron, former president of Frank Griffin Oil company, saw an opportunity with available space next to Darrell’s Hillside convenience store at the easy-access exit to Lake Dardanelle. After many questions and negotiations by his sales team, the location was secured, and it was time to take the family recipes to the public.

The first location in London opened in 2006. It was not the prettiest week of opening, but the people came, and they came back! Over time, Gordon’s son developed a new technique for loin back ribs with a brown sugar glaze, and a legendary recipe was born.

Four years later, the family decided to expand and found a historic stretch in downtown Russellville where trusts and locals could gather around a known and desired menu with a few extra items added, like a BBQ burrito, steaks, salmon, and fajitas.

While the menus vary slightly, the expectation is still the same: great food with a legendary taste.

Side Rankings

In my opinion, the best part of the food experience at Fat Daddy’s is all about the sides. I read several reviews about the smoked cheezy tators before we stopped, and they did not disappoint. It was by far the best thing on any of our plates.

Imagine that cheesy hashbrown casserole your family has at the holidays mixed with thick chunks of actual potatoes and those crunchy onions typical of green bean casserole. If I knew how good they would be, I’d have skipped the mac and cheese and ordered a double portion of taters!

Our next favorite side was the Cole Slaw. It reminded me of the slaw they always served at the church fish fry in college. The slaw didn’t get too wet and wilt during the day. It was still crunchy and didn’t have a vinegar or mayonnaise taste. Maybe I can find a way to sneak the recipe sometime! I can only imagine it’s the perfect addition to a pulled pork sandwich. I guess I know what I’ll order next time!

We also loved the crinkle-cut fries, which I know sounds silly because who can’t mess up French fries? But we are big fans of crinkle-cut fries at my house, and Fat Daddy’s dusts them with a seasoning that I can only guess is a mix of black pepper, salt, and garlic powder. It was just the right amount.

We also ordered the “famous” baked beans. While they were good, I guess the “famous” label comes from a family potluck. I enjoyed how they were sweet and not over-seasoned, which might be what draws people to them. Our bowl had bits of real bacon stirred in, which is always a good sign at a smokehouse.

Junior’s Opinion

I’m always looking for restaurants with good kid options, and the whole kids’ menu was things he would enjoy. My kiddo loved his mac and cheese, a bonus reason to keep us returning. While several of these items bring eye rolls from adults, I’m always thankful for a business that knows its ideal customer and caters to a menu where they have difficulty deciding what you pick.

Hot Dogs, Corndogs, tenders, and a side were all available, as was a “little piggie” sandwich. But the one that will get my Little Man every time is Dog and Mac. And they heard us say he would eat the hot dog whole, so they didn’t cut it up and stir it into the mac, which sounds like a perfect kids’ menu item and excellent customer service.

The perfect final touch is that they serve kids’ meals in an upside-down Frisbee. At first, my kid was sad that he had a white plate and the grown-ups had red plates, and he was sad we didn’t all match. Then, he finished his dinner and realized he could take his “plate” with him, and we had to leave ours behind.

Fat Daddy Highlights

Stopping for dinner was a great “hit the road experience” for our family. We loved the easy on and off-the-highway access to the restaurant. The option to grab a real (non-fast food) meal while traveling to our next adventure was the best. We’ve filed this as a great stop when crossing the state through the River Valley.

Fat Daddy’s is also known for its variety. The menu includes a BBQ burrito and a BBQ spud, and you can even add smoked meat to a salad.

We also like the variety of sauces that gave everyone an option. My husband likes a little sauce flavor but no spice. I prefer a “mixed” sauce, and that is exactly what I found: a little heat, but I could still feel my face. We will save the “hot” sauce for when we bring our dads!

The customer service was stellar. They had our food out quickly, and we even saw one family get their food before they had time to pay at the register and fill drinks. Even though it was our first visit, we felt like family. We watched as they repeatedly treated other customers with solutions and value, making adjustments and accommodations seem easy.

Visit Fat Daddy’s two locations in the Arkansas River Valley, or learn more online.

London – 7206 US 64 | 479-967-1273
Russellville – 104 North Denver | 479-967-0420

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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.

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