Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.
Toad Suck Buck's isn't the kind of place you go just for the food, though it's great. It's an experience. Buck's is out in the sticks, so you might have a little trouble finding it at all — the restaurant's website warns that MapQuest directions will not get you there. But that's part of the adventure.
Pulling into a gravel parking lot, located on Stony Point Road, off of Highway 60 about 12 miles west of Conway, we could already tell this wouldn't be a run-of-the-mill dining experience. The restaurant's housed in a rectangular building that resembles an old deer-lease cook-shack, without frills or decoration. There's a campfire outside by which patrons warm their hands as they wait for their food, while old country dogs lie in the dirt nearby.
As you walk through the door you're greeted instantly with friendly hellos, and by a sign kindly informing would-be diners that if they're in a big hurry, maybe this isn't the place for them. Neon beer signs and mounted deer antlers hang from the threadbare walls and the country music coming through the speakers muffles the din of dinnertime conversation and heated games of pool — which is free, as are games of shuffleboard.
The dining area is, well, let's say patched together. Booths hug the walls and a rag-tag bunch of tables and chairs (none matching) dot the floor. It's family-friendly and everyone seems to know each other. Kids run from one end of the concrete floor to the other while their parents talk shop or have a cold one with dinner.
We ordered a pitcher of beer (Bud Light only on draft, but there's a wider selection of longnecks) and looked over the menu. It didn't take too long as most of it is simply burgers and steaks, with a few sandwiches, salads and kids' meals thrown in the mix. A plate piled high with onion rings makes a good appetizer at $3.99, with plenty to go around. Other appetizers include fried shrimp ($7.69), cheese sticks ($4.69) and fried green tomatoes ($4.89).
For dinner, steak seemed to be the popular choice. We chose the 9-ounce filet mignon ($15.95) while our dining companion, a Toad Suck Buck's regular, went with the 18-ounce ribeye ($19.95). If you're really hungry, you can go with the Hudspeth porterhouse, a 28-ounce behemoth for $28.95. Other steaks include a New York strip ($18.95), a 16- or 22-ounce top sirloin ($16.95 and $22.95, respectively) and a 22-ounce T-bone ($23.95). Buck also serves up a breaded jumbo shrimp plate for $12.95. Every dinner comes with a make-it-yourself salad from the salad bar, fries or baked potato and a dinner roll.
Our companion let us know that it's probably wise to order your steak one level below your normally desired temperature. We're both medium-type people so we ordered medium-rare. The filet still came out a little over-cooked for our taste but the meat was very tender, well seasoned and with that fresh off-the-grill flavor. The ribeye, we were told, was perfectly done. There was a piece of gristle here and there and a little fat to trim off the ends, but the meat was well-prepared and juicy.
Put that together with a loaded baked potato and there's no room, we're sorry to report, for dessert. A couple more sips of beer was about all we could spare room for, so we took our beers out by the fire and chatted with the locals, the waitress when it was time for her smoke break and Buck himself.
It's not what you'd call fine dining, but the food and the atmosphere at Buck's make it worth the trip.
Toad Suck Buck's
11 Roaring River Loop
Houston, AR 72070
Who needs appetizers when you can grab a beer and sit out by the fire? If you're hungry though, try the fried shrimp or onion rings.
4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Credit cards accepted, full bar.