Diners, drive-ins and dives 

In what's become an annual tradition in the Best Restaurants issue, we once again turned to our readers for help. On our Eat Arkansas blog, we asked for nominations for the best unheralded dining in Arkansas. And we were flooded with responses. Below, with help from friends and regular contributors, we present a crowd-sourced take on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” — a collection of little known gems worth seeking out. Keep the finds coming at Eat Arkansas (arktimes.com/blogs/eatarkansas).

Mammoth country helpings. Great pies.

45 Market Plaza, NLR. 945-8884.

— Ernest Dumas

BIG RED DRIVE-IN Let others enjoy CJ's Butcher Boy Burgers and the world-famous Feltner's Whatta-Burger. Locals will head to Big Red for burgers, fried chicken and big, messy banana splits. Some pass up on the decent burgers for the Chuckwagon sandwich, a chicken fried steak treated like a burger. Can't go wrong with the fried catfish, though, served up hot in a basket with fries.

1520 S. Arkansas, Russellville. 479-968-1960.

— Kat Robinson

BULLDOG RESTAURANT During strawberry and peach seasons, there's nothing better than a milkshake from the Bulldog. So thick with fruit, sometimes a straw won't work.

3614 Hwy. 367 N., Bald Knob. 501-724-5195.

— Caroline Millar

DONALDSON COUNTRY STORE Made to order when you order it, good fat burgers and deli sandwiches, too. Get a basket. And dip yourself a pickle or two while you're at it.

Front Street, two blocks east of Hwy. 67 in Donaldson. 870-382-2219.

— Kat Robinson

ED WALKER'S The sign will tell you to order up a French dip sandwich. That's not a bad idea, but it's not all you'll find on the menu. Flash your lights for service to order, and choose some Texas toothpicks (fried onion and jalapeno straws) or a chile relleno. But if you choose the Giant Hamburger ($22.99) you'd better be driving a van. That's five pounds of beef on a custom-made bun, served up with a generous portion of French fries and a platter of tomatoes, onions, pickles and lettuce. Impressive, tasty and ample enough to feed a family reunion. If you can manage dessert, a slice of homemade cake or strawberry shortcake in a chilled glass should set you up fine. The fact that Ed Walker's is the last restaurant in the country that has car hop service for beer deserves mention.

1500 Towson Lane, Fort Smith. 479-782-3352.

— Kat Robinson

FATIGA'S Hidden in a strip mall shopping center a half mile from the Oklahoma border, Fatiga's Sub Station is a Yankee-sandwich mecca in the unlikeliest of places: Siloam Springs. While the menu has expanded to pizzas and other items in the past decade, Fatiga's strength — and what makes it one of the truly best eating experiences in Arkansas — is its selection of Italian subs. The gold standard is the capicola, roast beef and cheese, but be sure to try to the red Reuben, too. Both are worthy of a pilgrimage to Siloam Springs, but it's also an easy detour on any trip to or from Fayetteville.

1004 S. Mount Olive St., Siloam Springs. 479-524-6277.

— Jason Weinheimer

You won't find a busier establishment at six in the morning on the first day of hunting season. The popular gas station/restaurant/hunting supply store hugs the west side of Highway 167 south of Sheridan. The breakfast crowd goes for eggs to order or, if in a rush, a Saran-wrapped biscuit with sausage or ham and egg and maybe even cheese inside. For lunch, it's a choice of a rather decent burger, deli sandwich or po' boy, or a good old-fashioned homemade pimento cheese sandwich. The Lemon Ice Box Pie ($2.19) is memorable.

7781 Hwy. 167 S., Sheridan. 870-942-5284.

— Kat Robinson

GRANDMA'S HOUSE During game days at Fayetteville, you'll see a lot of travelers stopping by this great place on Mount Gaylor outside of Winslow. Everything is homemade — they do great pies, fried chicken, huge homemade rolls, vegetables, homemade gravy, sometimes meatloaf, chicken and dumplings.

21588 U.S. 71, Winslow.

— Janee Crotts

KEENEY FOODMART Outstanding smoked meats, steaks, homemade pies — just plain cooking.

101 W. Mill St., Malvern. 870-332-3371.

— From the web.

LA PLACITA The best carne asada burrito you've ever had.

1016 Detention and Green, Benton. 501-778-3738.

— From the web.

PHO VIETNAM RESTAURANT It's all about the vegetarian sandwiches. They come with tofu, pickled carrots, cilantro, pickled onions and mayonnaise on French bread. And you put a lot of hoisin and sriracha on. I know all that sounds fairly disgusting, but the sum of parts makes it the most delicious thing ever. The sandwiches only cost a couple bucks, and you get free tea and dessert. Buy 10 sandwiches, get one free, too.

2214 Rogers Ave., Fort Smith, 479-782-3227.

— Leigh Wood

SPUNKY PIG BBQ In a gas station/feed store outside of Heber Springs, you'll find the best barbecue you'll ever eat.

9 Pangburn Road, Heber Springs. 501-206-0444.

— From the web.

Great made-to-order country-store type sandwiches.

20034 N. Hwy. 23, Ozark. 479-667-3641.

— From the web.



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