Another month, another set of delicious treats in Arkansas. This time, I branched out of the Bentonville/Fayetteville/Rogers area and explored beyond, to the Beaver and Wedington Lake areas and further. Many of these places were found while I was driving, as opposed to my last selection, which I’d heavily curated in advance. Half the fun was the discovery!1. Banana split, Susie Q Malt Shop, Rogers
For $3.59, here’s a banana split that could easily feed a family of four. It’s served in a styrofoam container traditionally reserved for foot-long hot dogs or large burritos and comes with four massive scoops of ice cream, pineapple, strawberry, caramel, chocolate fudge, more whipped cream than a cow stuck in a tornado, and an avalance of chopped candied nuts on top. We made it through about three bites before we had to throw in the towel.
2. Goat tacos, Taqueria Vega, Rogers
Vega only makes these tacos from 11am-2pm on weekends, and after taking a bite, it’s easy to see why they usually have a line snaking out the door. Not only are these made with homemade tortillas to order, but they’re stuffed with fresh, slightly gamy goat meat and topped with a sweet and sharp charred tomato salsa. Three makes for two robust meals.
3. Beans and cornbread, Bean Palace, Rogers
These beans and cornbread are served up from breakfast to dinner at the War Eagle Mill, using cornmeal from their own factory. The highlight of the meal was the homemade Mean Jean hot sauce, with a splash of sweet Valencia orange juice to give the beans a little pizzaz in the morning. 4. Pimento cheeseburger, The Hive, Bentonville
While some of the items on this menu are hit or miss, this burger is delightful, although I craved more pimento cheese. The pickles and fries were sublime and the char on each half made it even more full of umami. 5. PB&J burger, JJ’s Grill, Rogers
Peanut butter, jelly, sriracha, pickles, and bacon on a burger sounds more like something you’d make after a long night of drinking, not before, but surprisingly, all the elements work. The peanut butter and bacon take place of the creamy, fatty notes cheese typically provides and the jelly, sriracha, and pickles add a good balance of sweetness that doesn’t detract from the beef.
6. Blackberry concrete, Andy’s Frozen Custard, Bentonville
Andy’s is a small chain, like Shake’s, in the South, and serves up seasonal and classic flavors of frozen custard. Although I was tempted to try the strawberry shortcake custard, the fresh array of berries won me over. This was tangy and almost neutral with the base, letting the berries shine through.
7. Fried gooseberry pie, Cannonball BBQ, Garfield
I ate this on the 4th of July after enjoying a smoked brisket sandwich and a beer before the rodeo. Not too many things are more American than that. This gooseberry pie was freshly made and fried up. Although Cannonball offers many different flavors of fried pie, this regional specialty is not to be missed.
8. Fried chicken (in sandwich form), Monte Ne Inn, Rogers
Talk about gestalt- the whole, in this case, is better than the sum of its parts, although fried chicken, beans, potatoes, slaw, and freshly baked Pullman bread are never bad on their own. However, when that loaf is split, steaming hot, spread with butter, apple butter, slaw, and topped with chicken, the world gains another kitten angel. Also, the vintage kitchen supply decor is a treat unto its own.
9. Red velvet tea latte, Savoy Tea Co., Rogers
Definitely one of the more unusual hybrid coffee/tea/dessert beverages I’ve had in a while, the red velvet latte is made with cream, espresso, red velvet tea, cocoa, and a little whipped cream and is surprisingly not known to induce diabetes. It was light and refreshing and I’m dying to try one over ice.10. Coconut creme pie, Ferguson Family Restaurant, Cave Springs
This flaky, dense pie was packed with coconut and the homemade meringue on top was dense with a nice crunch. The woman told me the pies were baked daily with a lard and butter crust and a little lemon zest. Next time, I’ll come back to try the smoked cheeseburger. For now, this really hit the spot.
The second month was a hit- I branched out into other parts of the state and had a great time. Next month will include the last of NWA before I skip town and parts of Little Rock and beyond, depending on what I find- cheers!