Arkansas is a state known for its great Southern hospitality, scenic camping vacations, and scrumptious food! Although mouthwatering barbecue is a local dining staple for most Arkansans, the state offers an eclectic variety of restaurants that offer fresh ingredients and warm, friendly service.
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. Dondie’s White River Princess: Located on the shore of the White River in downtown Des Arc, this popular place is patterned after an old riverboat.
You can dine on board without ever leaving the ground. It was built to resemble the steamboats that once traveled up and down the White River, docking at Des Arc, Arkansas.
2. Parachute Inn, Walnut Ridge: You can enjoy a great meal aboard a plane (except you won't be at 30,000 ft. in the sky) at this one-of-a-kind restaurant.
Located in a Southwest Airlines Boeing 727, the restaurant's interior has been restored to the original “Southwest” look and seats have been redesigned to fit tables. Diners are encouraged to stash their coats in the overhead bins!
3. The Mammoth Orange Café: Located in Redfield, AR (halfway between Little Rock and Pine Bluff) this roadside attraction was constructed in 1966.
Inspired by a restaurant in Fresno, California built in the 1950s, the menu here features hamburgers, hot dogs, chili dogs, a salad bar and dinner specials.
4. Cafe Africa, Little Rock Zoo: Walk with the animals, talk with the animals, and eat with the animals! This cafe is housed in the historic lion house at the Little Rock Zoo.
The lion house at the Little Rock Zoo was built in 1933 and is a Works Progress Administration all-rock building. The restaurant features a stone fireplace and multi-level dining.
5. Cotham’s Mercantile: This is by and far the most popular “general store” in Arkansas. This eatery in Scott occupies an old general store which partially sits on stilts in the rear, overlooking Bearskin Lake.
Now boasting a sister restaurant in Little Rock, Cotham's is where Arkansas elite meet to eat and is known for its trademark "Hubcap Hamburgers" and handmade onion rings.
6. Historic Oark General Store & Café: The oldest continuous-operation store in Arkansas, established in 1890; the building has the original floors, walls, and ceiling.
The cafe features home cooking, steaks, ribs, catfish, frog legs, and homemade fried chicken.
7. Abe’s Ole Feed House: This South Arkansas restaurant (located outside of El Dorado) is housed in an old country store and has gained a regular following with its all-you-can-eat dining options.
This restaurant's menu includes fried catfish, seafood, barbecue ribs, a variety of salads and vegetables, plus desserts and enormous homemade cinnamon rolls.
8. Jones Bar-B-Q: Located in Marianna, Arkansas, this is a neighborhood barbecue joint that has been in business for over 100 years.
Meats here are smoked on-site and served on plain white bread with thin, vinegar-based sauce and cole slaw. The restaurant has been featured in national magazines & television.
9. McClard's Bar-B-Q in Hot Springs: Once a beloved hangout of President Bill Clinton, this legendary Arkansas barbecue restaurant offers meats pit smoked daily on the premises.
McClard's is also known for their sauce, cole slaw, beans and hot tamales, all made from scratch from old family recipes. They have been family owned and operated for over 75 years.
10. Doe's Eat Place in Little Rock: This Little Rock landmark is known for huge steaks and homemade tamales. It gained national attention during the 1992 presidential election campaign.
Clinton campaigners and staffers made Doe's their hangout and it was also the setting for then-candidate Bill Clinton's interview with Rolling Stone magazine.
11. Venesian Inn in Tontitown: This tiny Arkansas town is best known for its Grape Festival but also has a lovely location for soaking up the food heritage of this place that was founded by Italian immigrants at the end of the 19th century.
The Venesian Inn is an Arkansas tradition featuring authentic Italian cuisine, handmade pasta and rolls and excellent fried chicken.
12. AQ Chicken House in Springdale: This quirky Chicken House has been an Arkansas tradition for over fifty years.
The AQ Chicken House is known for its secret-recipe chicken and casual family dining. The pan fried chicken is the house specialty.
13. Weinkeller Restaurant: Located in Wiederkehr Village, the Weinkeller Restaurant at Wiederkehr Wine Cellars serves Swiss and other charming European dishes to go along with Arkansas-made Wiederkehr wine.
The original wine cellar, hand-dug by Johann Andreas Wiederkehr in 1880, was converted to house the Weinkeller in 1967. The restaurant is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
14. Chambers Drug Store: This Jacksonville, Arkansas drugstore has been open since 1956; the store still has its original soda fountain offering floats, milkshakes and other fountain fare.
Along with fountain sodas Chambers also serves burgers, fresh tuna and chicken salads, and cheesesteaks.
15. Ozark Café in Jasper: The history of this soda fountain in Arkansas goes back 100 years.
The century-old café features burgers, steaks and seafood in addition to its soda fountain offerings.
16. Charlotte's Eats & Sweets : Located in a historic pharmacy building in Keo, Arkansas, Charlotte's serves ice cream concoctions such as shakes, sundaes, malts, along with sandwiches, salads, burgers, homemade pies and cakes.
Charlotte's also has an old walnut soda fountain on display for diners to admire in the restaurant's old-town setting.
17. Green Corner Store in Little Rock: Eco Lifestyle Store features turn-of-the-century hand-tooled, old-fashioned wooden pharmacy fixtures including white oak shelving, glass displays and marble counters.
The eatery's featured fixtures were all made by A.H. Lippenott in Philadephia over 100 years ago.
18. Purple Cow: This beloved Little Rock burger spot serves up premium, hand-dipped shakes from the soda fountain in addition to delicious gourmet burgers and diner dishes.
The kitschy Purple Cow now has two locations in Arkansas's capital city for burger lovers to enjoy.
19. Palace Drug Store & Soda Fountain in Mammoth Spring: Along with the soda fountain, this lunch counter serves soups, sandwiches, salads and desserts, and has a selection of gifts.
Palace Drug Store
Mammoth Spring is located in the extreme north-central part of Arkansas, just to the east of US Highway 63 and roughly 500 feet south of the Missouri border.
20. Cronies Cafe and Old-Fashioned Soda Fountain: Located in picturesque Mountain View, Arkansas, the soda fountain menu here includes ice cream sodas, cones, phosphates, shakes, malts, sundaes, and banana splits.
The food menu at Cronies includes a variety of sandwiches and salads.
Wherever you go in Arkansas, there’s always a great place to have a “sit down” meal! Of course, this list is just a sampling of what the state has to offer – all Arkie residents have their own favorite dining spots, and travelers from the biggest cities find themselves coming back to even the smallest towns just for a second or third helping!