If there’s one thing your comprehensive bucket list absolutely has to have, it’s a section devoted entirely to barbecue. Well, no problem, friends, there’s one right here. All you’ve got to do is print this ultimate barbecue bucket list out and place it right into the binder containing all the awesome things you still need to do in Arkansas. These 20 barbecue spots are the best the Natural State has to offer, and you really shouldn’t miss a single one.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Jones Bar-B-Q Diner (Marianna)
This James Beard American Classics Award winning restaurant is well worth the trip to the town of Marianna. It’s a no frills we-don’t-need-no-fancy-bun establishment where the meat and sauce are so good you won’t mind eating a regular white bread sandwich. Jones Bar-B-Q Diner is so good that on the weekends that sometimes they sell out of barbecue by 10 a.m. You’ll find this national treasure at 219 West Louisiana Street in Marianna.
2. Rivertowne Barbecue (Ozark)
People come from all over to enjoy the barbecue you’ll find in the small town of Ozark. This place has great service, loads of delicious barbecue options, and a fun family atmosphere that will keep you coming back for more. Set near the Arkansas River, you won’t find a more idyllic spot to feast. You’ll find Rivertowne BBQ at 205 South 3rd Street in Ozark.
3. Stubby’s Barbecue (Hot Springs)
If you’re staying in Hot Springs, I’ve got great news. One of the best barbecue spots in Arkansas is located there, and you can order online to have their delicious barbecue delivered to you. After all, nothing says spa retreat like the luxury of good old fashioned barbecue delivered right into your hands. This reasonably priced local hot spot is located at 3024 Central Avenue in Hot Springs.
4. The Whole Hog Café (Little Rock)
If you want award winning barbecue, look no further than the Whole Hog Café. They’ve got seven different sauces and truly exceptional meats. This Little Rock based restaurant has become a chain spread all across the Natural State and into five other states, but there’s nothing quite like visiting the original at 2516 Cantrell Road in Little Rock.
5. McClard’s Bar-B-Q Restaurant (Hot Springs)
This family owned business has been around in some iteration since 1928 and is now on its fourth generation of family tradition. Restaurants don’t get to stick around that long without some seriously good barbecue. This Hot Springs favorite has a seriously famous original recipe sauce. You can find that and delicious meat at 505 Albert Pike Road in Hot Springs National Park.
6. Ralph’s Pink Flamingo BBQ (Fort Smith)
Fort Smith residents can’t stop talking about Pink Flamingo, and that’s because this grand championship style barbecue joint knows how to do barbecue right. This restaurant is the current reigning favorite among Fort Smith natives. This restaurant is located at 2801 Old Greenwood Road Suite 3 in Fort Smith.
7. Gene’s Bar-B-Q (Brinkley)
The town of Brinkley is halfway between Memphis and Little Rock, which makes it a great place to stop off and grab a bite to eat. Gene’s Bar-B-Q is the perfect place to do just that. This business is open every day of the year, so you can always find great barbecue at 1107 Arkansas Highway 17 a few blocks from I-40 in Brinkley.
8. Nick’s Bar-B-Q & Catfish (Carlisle)
Is there any way a place could be more Arkansas than serving barbecue and catfish side by side? I’m going to go with no. Nick’s Bar-B-Q & Catfish puts all that Arkansas goodness right in the their name, and their food delivers on that promise of delicious traditional favorites. Nick’s Bar-B-Q & Catfish is located at 1012 Bobby L Glover Highway in Carlisle.
9. Smokin’ Buns (Jacksonville)
Smokin’ Buns has a fantastic sense of humor, as indicated by their sign and name. The ribs slide right off the bone, as they should. This favorite also specializes in barbecue and catfish, offering farm raised catfish and freshly smoked meats. You’ll find it at 25401 Highway 107 in Jacksonville.
10. Lindsey's Hospitality House & Barbecue (North Little Rock)
This jumpin’ little joint has been around since 1956, serving up plates of good old fashioned barbecued meats and steaming hot southern hospitality. More than just mouthwatering barbecue, this place has fried pies that are absolutely to die for. You’ll find it at 207 Curtis Sykes Drive in North Little Rock.
11. Backyard Barbecue Company (Magnolia)
With delicious smoked meats and a selection of freshly made pies and other desserts, you simply can’t miss the incredible food at Backyard Barbecue Company. The homey atmosphere and hometown feel aim to please and succeed at exactly that. Backyard Barbecue Company is located at 1407 East Main Street in Magnolia.
12. Dixie Pig (Blytheville)
This Blytheville establishment has been making barbecue for about 90 years, and in all that time they’ve practically perfected barbecue sandwiches. You’re going to love the food there, and the service simply can’t be beat. You’ll find it at 701 North 6th Street in Blytheville.
13. Penguin Ed’s Barbecue (Fayetteville)
With three locations in Fayetteville, Penguin Ed’s is adorably decorated and full of amazing barbecue. They have a 20-year history of providing wonderful barbecue to Fayetteville residents who just keep coming back for more. You’ll find Penguin Ed’s on Mission at 2773 East Mission Boulevard.
14. Sugar Booger’s Barbecue & Brew (Huntsville)
People love the great service and awesome atmosphere, but what they love even more is the food. Sugar Booger’s makes fresh slaw and potato salad, along with the delicious barbecued meats. Sugar Booger’s Barbecue & Brew is located at 12191 Hwy 21 South in Huntsville.
15. H.B.’s Bar B. Q. (Little Rock)
They only serve ribs on Tuesdays, so maybe you should go several days a week, because you’ve absolutely got to try their pork sandwich as well. This may be the best case of don’t judge a barbecue joint by its building on this list, because this Little Rock favorite is absolutely fantastic. You’ll find it at 6010 Lancaster in Little Rock.
16. Pig’n-Chik (Sherwood)
Located in Sherwood, Pig’n-Chik prides itself on not compromising their flavor in favor of speed. This doesn’t mean they’re exceptionally slow, they’re about as quick to get your food as anywhere else. It just means their quality is exceptional. You’ll find all the fantastic barbecue at 7824 AR-107 in Sherwood.
17. Craig’s Bar-B-Que (De Valls Bluff)
This delta tradition has continued since 1947, and in that time they’ve worked to perfect each and every one of their recipes. Like all truly great barbecue joints, Craig’s has their own sauce and it is truly fantastic. You’ll find them at 15 West Walnut in De Valls Bluff.
18. Old Post Barbecue (Russellville)
Old Post has been serving delicious barbecue for thirty years, and they love to slow cook meat and deliver up their very own sauce. They’re another place that serves succulent ribs next to fantastic fried catfish. You’ll find this place at 407 South Arkansas Avenue in Russellville.
19. White Pig Inn (North Little Rock)
The White Pig Inn first opened for business in 1920 and has spent the ensuing years serving central Arkansas some of the best barbecue in the Natural State. That makes it an absolute must for barbecue enthusiasts and you’re especially going to love that all of their meat is smoked over an open fire. You’ll find them at 5231 East Broadway in North Little Rock.
20. Three Sams Barbecue (Mabelvale)
This is one of those place where you don’t want to skip the dessert. The pies there are absolutely scrumptious. The real stars, of course, are the barbecue dishes. There’s simply nothing better than their barbecued brisket. They are located at 10508 Mann Road in Mabelvale.