When it comes to dining, Arkansas locals will likely be the first to ask, “Where’s the meat?” Thanks to President Bill Clinton, the state is known for its love of BBQ and a good burger, but also it’s its attachment to old-time soda fountains and general stores. From old airplanes to 1950s-inspired diners, Arkansas residents sure do prefer to eat in some odd establishments. Weird or not, though, the food speaks for itself.
Here are a few restaurants you have try for yourself while you’re breezing through Arkansas.
Head Downstream on the Belle of the Hot Springs
You’ll quickly learn that Arkansas is full of surprises and a dinner cruise down stunning Lake Hamilton is pretty hard to top. The Belle of the Hot Springs is a perfect date night for locals or newcomers, especially when you factor in the panoramic mountains and mansions you’ll see from this historic riverboat steamer.
Go Back in Time at The Purple Cow
The exclusively Arkansas chain loves beef almost as much as it loves the color purple. Serving up diner food in a retro-inspired purple motif, The Purple Cow likes to think anyone can become a kid again when they have a burger and a serving of purple vanilla ice cream. Their mascot, Polly the Cow, is often out participating in local marketing and charity events, but if she’s there, be sure to pose for a picture with her — it’s all part of the experience.
Stay Grounded at Parachute Inn
No one seeks out airport food, but Parachute Inn just may change your mind. Located at the Walnut Ridge Airport, this quirky restaurant is located in a converted Boeing 737 right next to the runway. Serving up a full meal Tuesday through Saturday, a week, it’s perfect for when you have the kids in tow.
Please the Family at the Historic Oark General Store and Café
You may have driven by this place without giving it as much as a second glance, but locals know better. The Historic Oark General Store and Café looks like it came straight out of a scene from Fried Green Tomatoes and rightly so! It’s been serving happy customers since 1890. While its days of selling groceries are long gone, the burgers and freshly made pies are proof that sometimes change is a good thing and you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.