We all love Arkansas’s small towns, but do you know what my favorite part is? That some of the best restaurants in the Natural State are in those little places. You don’t have to travel to Little Rock or Fayetteville to find delicious food, you can go right down the road and find something fantastic. Below you’ll find 11 spectacular restaurants that are all located in small towns.
1. You’ve got to go to Wilson for the Wilson Cafe.
The town of Wilson might only have a population of a little under a thousand, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find fantastic cuisine there. The Wilson Cafe is a totally adorable place with a clean, modern interior and absolutely delicious food. You’ll find the cafe at 2 North Jefferson Street in Wilson.
2. The elites meet to eat at Cotham’s Mercantile in Scott.
Scott is so small that it’s one of those places where you’re like “is this even a town?” It isn’t exactly a town, but it is a census-designated place with a population of 72. Within this small place you’ll find a cafe with loads of history and even more charm. Cotham’s Mercantile is “where the elite meet to eat” for one simple reason—they serve fabulous food at reasonable prices. You’ll find Cotham’s Mercantile at 5301 Highway 161 South in Scott.
3. Have your burger with a side of history at the Oark General Store in Oark.
Not to parse terms or anything, but Oark isn’t really even a town—it’s an unincorporated community. It’s in such a remote location in the Ozarks that the people who lived there needed a general store, and eventually that general store, the longest continually running general store in Arkansas, became the best cafe anywhere. You can get to the cafe by driving to 117 County Road 5241 in Oark.
4. You can get food from the Grapevine in Paris.
Paris is the gateway to Mount Magazine State Park, and it’s a great little town with a lot to offer. One of the things it has to offer is the Grapevine Restaurant. The homey atmosphere and homestyle food are sure to leave a smile on your face. Find it at 105 East Walnut Street in Paris.
5. Have your tamales and eat them too at Rhoda’s Famous Hot Tamales in Lake Village.
Lake Village is a little bigger than the first few towns on this list, but with only a little under three thousand people, it’s still a small town. In that small town you’ll find a small restaurant, in that small restaurant you’ll find HUGE flavor. From tamales to burgers to freshly made pies, you can’t do much better than Rhoda’s. It’s located at 714 St. Mary Street in Lake Village.
6. Find a spectacular traditional diner menu at Bendi’s Diner in Clarendon.
Clarendon only has around 1500 people, but they’ve also got a traditional diner that will sweep you off your feet. With hearty diner fare, a hometown atmosphere, and friendly service, it’s a diner you’re sure to love. Bendi’s Diner is located at 101 North 6th Street in Clarendon.
7. Go halfway around the world at Little Italy in Glenwood.
If you’re looking for pizza, pasta, subs, or basically any kind of mouthwateringly delicious Italian food, you definitely want to go to Little Italy in Glenwood. This little Italian joint is superb eating with true old world flare. Find it in Glenwood at 180 Highway 70 East.
8. Go old school at the Palace Drug Store & Soda Fountain in Mammoth Spring.
Yes, Palace Drug Store is a drug store, but it is also a soda fountain with a fantastic menu full of all the sandwiches, soups, wraps, and daily specials your heart could possibly desire. Of course you can get traditional malts and shakes there, too, and they're extra fantastic. You’ll find it at 270 Main Street in Mammoth Spring.
9. Keep it classy at Weinkeller Restaurant in Altus.
Altus is a tiny town, but you’ll find probably literal tons of grapes there. That’s because Altus is Arkansas wine country. There’s something else hiding in that tiny town—some of the finest dining in the entire state. At Weinkeller Restaurant you can dine by candle light on authentic European cuisine. It’s the perfect place to feel like you’ve traveled halfway across the globe. Get there by driving to 3324 Swiss Family Drive in Altus.
10. Get your barbecue on at Nick’s Barbecue and Catfish in Carlisle.
If you’re in the small town of Carlisle, there’s one place where you can get two of Arkansas’s favorite dishes: barbecue and catfish. Actually, you can get both those things on the same plate at Nick’s, with friendly service and that small town atmosphere we all adore. You can get all that and more at 1012 Bobby L Glover Highway in Carlisle.
11. Find the buffet of your dreams at Shea’s and Kay’s Diner in Pocahontas.
You can order off the menu there too, of course, but it seems like everybody loves both the lunch and breakfast buffets at Shea’s and Kay’s. This cozy little diner has the best food and the best service you could find anywhere, but luckily it’s located in the small Arkansas town of Pocahontas, at 1490 Highway 67 North.