Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Off the Eaten Path in Arkansas

For a story in the February issue of AY, I got to do one of my favorite things ... eat bad foods! We traveled across the state visiting some of the most well known dives, and one thing I kept seeing over and over was that the establishments were put on the culinary map thanks to my favorite food-hero, Bill Clinton. The man could eat, and he knew where to find the good stuff. I only speak of him in past tense because he's since crossed over to the vegan side for health reasons, and after you see some of the delightfully disgraceful food we ate this month you'll understand why.

The glory days.

 Cotham's Mercantile, Scott, Ark.

Hubcap burger. Photo by Ashlee Nobel.

Cotham's is built over a small section of the Arkansas River. It's a little scary.

Our first stop was Cotham's Mercantile, only 20 minutes outside of Little Rock in Scott, Arkansas. This famous restaurant opened as a general mercantile store for local farmers in 1917. It wasn’t until the owners decided to add a small eating area to feed customers in 1984, that the Cotham’s found its true calling … the “Hub Cap” hamburger, which is an 8-inch diameter, 1-pound, seasoned ground-beef burger, dressed with lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion and mustard, is enough to feed four … or one really hungry politician. Don’t forget to order a side of crispy fried onion rings and fried green tomatoes — these thin-sliced, lightly-battered delicacies are to die for. 

Cotham's Mercantile
5301 Hwy. 161 
Scott, AR 72142
(501) 961-9284,

 Doe's Eat Place, Little Rock, Ark.
Menu highlights. Photo by Vanessa Wurtz.

This unassuming building on the corner of Markham and Ringo Streets in downtown Little Rock is home to the best steaks in the city … we’ll go as far as to say even the state.  Owner George Eldridge brought Doe’s Eat Place to Little Rock in 1988, after falling in love with the original location in Greenville, Mississippi.
The decor is eclectic. Walls are filled with mememorabilia of Eldridge’s favorite musicians and acquaintances, like Pres. Bill Clinton, who chose the restaurant as the setting for his Rolling Stone Magazine interview with Hunter S. Thompson.
Doe’s is famous for its steaks — t-bone, porterhouse and sirloin — served family-style in 2- to 3-pound servings, which are easy to share. The World Famous Hot Tamales are a restaurant favorite and an original Doe’s recipe.

1023 W. Markham St.
Little Rock, AR 72201
(501) 376-1195

Craig's Bar B-Q, DeValls Bluff, Ark.

Mild (we were afraid of the hot) pork sandwich.

Simple, delicious menu. Only thing to make it better would be Coke.

The battle over the best barbecue in the state has divided most pork lovers for years. Whether you love sweet, spicy or vinegary, you can’t deny a good, simply well-done barbecue sandwich. That’s what you’ll find at Craig’s — established in 1947 — just a few miles off of I-40 in the east Arkansas town of DeValls Bluff, population 692.
While the exterior may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, the food within keeps the place packed through the lunch hour. The small dining room only holds about 10 tables, so the majority of business at Craig’s is takeout. The menu is simple: pork or beef sandwiches, ribs, hamburgers, whole or half chickens and grilled cheese sandwiches. If you order the barbecue — which we suggest you do — you will be asked, “mild, medium, or “hot?” Craig’s sauce is a yellow/orange vinegary concoction doused on the savory slow-cooked meat.

Craig’s Bar B-Q
U.S. 70 West
DeValls Bluff, AR 72041
(870) 998-2616 

Honorable Mention Arkansas Dining Destinations:

CJ’s Butcher Boy Burger
2803 N. Arkansas Ave.
Russellville, AR 72802
(479) 968-2300

Coursey’s Smoked Meats
152 Courseys
St. Joe, AR 72675
(870) 439-2503

The Mammoth Orange
103 N. Hwy 365
Redfield, AR 72132
(501) 397-2347

McClard's Bar-B-Q
505 Albert Pike
Hot Springs, AR 71901
(501) 623-9665

Spudnuts Shoppe
810 W. Faulkner St.  
El Dorado, AR 71730
(870) 863-9914

For the complete "Off the Eaten Path" story visit


  1. Great round-up! I'm re-reading it at lunchtime, *stomach growling*. We had our rehearsal dinner at Cotham's in Scott! The owners let us BYOB, ha. Good times. xo.

  2. Thanks, Nicole! I loved Cotham' worth the drive.

  3. I'm definitely craving for a burger now!

  4. Great post!
    lovely blog
    xoxo =D

  5. Clinton did have amazing taste in food. Man knew where it was at! I can't wait to move back to LR so we can be near my favorite bbq place, Hog Pen in Conway! Just wayyyyyy too far from Fayetteville!