The Fort Smith area is known for a lot of things, one of those things is having a vibrant dining scene. While it is difficult to determine how many restaurants are in the River Valley, there are enough for Fort Smith to be considered the restaurant capitol of Arkansas. For many who travel on I-40, the Fort Smith area is a place where hungry travelers can find unique cuisine that cannot be found elsewhere. For area locals, this area is a cornucopia of great places to eat. Of course in an area with this many restaurants it is difficult to say which ones are worth visiting and which ones you would rather avoid. Having blazed the restaurant trail in the River Valley, this examiner has found both good and bad places to dine in. Luckily there are more restaurants that fall into the first category than the second, but it comes down to knowing which restaurant belongs in which category. That is why this examiner is releasing a list of the fifteen restaurants in the Fort Smith area that are worth the trip. So whether you are a local or just visiting, here is a list of fifteen restaurants that you need to try.
Benson’s Grill is one of Fort Smith’s most popular restaurants. It has been around since the 1960s serving comfort food to locals and tourists alike. Benson’s is open 24 hours a day, which means that you can order a burger at 3 AM or an omelet 4 PM. Benson’s also offers unique items like Mamma’s Mexican Nachos which is a plate that is covered with nachos covered in Queso Refried beans and salsa. There is also a jukebox for those who like a good tune with their meal.
Benson’s Grill is located at 2515 Rogers Ave, Fort Smith, AR 72901.
If you have ever wanted to dine in an old fashioned dining car, then Boomerang Diner is for you. Boomerang Diner is housed in a dining car from a 1930s locomotive so you get to feel what it was like to dine while traveling by train. Boomerang Diner serves all of the traditional comfort food items (although this examiner prefers the Ruben above all else) that diners traditionally serve from burgers to chicken fried steak and even breakfast. If you want great diner food there are a lot of places to choose from, but for a truly unique dining experience Boomerang Diner is the place for you.
Boomerang Diner is located at 15 North 2nd Street (inside the Park at West End), Fort Smith, AR 72901.
If you have ever been to Oklahoma City you probably went to Bricktown Brewery, and if you went to Bricktown Brewery the odds are that you stopped at their best restaurant Bricktown Brewery. If you have dined at Bricktown Brewery and fell in love with it then here is some great news: you don’t have to drive two and a half hours to eat there since there is a Bricktown Brewery right here in Fort Smith. Bricktown Brewery is Fort Smith’s first restaurant to serve beer that is micro-brewed and serves seven hand-crafted beers that will quench your thirst. Customers can order a beer sampler for around $7-$10 and try each one of their beers. Bricktown Brewery originally had seven beers, but have recently added a new one called the Three Guardsmen. While this beer is a little bitterer than the others it does not have that bitter after taste that a lot of beers do. Oh yeah, Bricktown Brewery also serves food. The menu includes Artisan Pizzas, unique sandwiches and killer appetizers. However if you have a man-sized appetite that demands food then the only thing to get is the Truck Burger. The Truck Burger is a traditional restaurant burger on steroids. This burger is made with a combination of Nueseke’s bacon and Creekstone’s all natural beef then is topped with Bourbon Bacon Maple Jam. This is probably the best burger that this examiner has ever tasted. Great food and unique beers are what make Bricktown Brewery a must for any Fort Smith diner, so don’t miss out on this great restaurant.
Bricktown Brewery is located at 318 Garrison Avenue, Fort Smith, AR 72901.
This is arguably Fort Smith’s oldest and most unique restaurant. Ed Walker’s can trace its history back to at least the 1940s. Over time this restaurant has distinguished itself for serving the best French Dip sandwiches in Arkansas as well as being one of only two restaurants in the nation where customers can have beer delivered to their vehicles if they choose to have their meals in their cars. The reason behind this is because Ed Walker’s has existed longer than many of the state and federal laws concerning alcohol so it was grandfathered in and can operate as it always has. If you are looking for a restaurant with a history as colorful as Fort Smith, then Ed Walker’s is where you need to go.
Ed Walker’s is located at 1500 Towson Avenue Fort Smith, AR 72901.
Frank’s Italian Restaurant
Having grown up on the East Coast, this examiner knows that the best Italian dishes never came from Olive Garden, but instead from hole-in-the-walls that looked like they were ready for the wrecking ball. While Frank’s Italian Restaurant is definitely not a hole-in-the-wall, it is not located in Downtown Fort Smith or Restaurant Row. In fact Frank’s is not even located in Fort Smith, but in the neighboring town of Van Buren. What makes Frank’s a great restaurant is a combination of ambiance and culinary delights. Frank’s offers a cozy atmosphere where you can relax and let your senses roam free, and New York-style pizzas that will make you think that you are in the Big Apple. If you are in the mood for an entrée instead of pizza, Frank’s offers a variety of dishes that range from the traditional like Chicken Parmigiana to the unique like Tortellini Siciliano. If you are a fan of authentic Italian dining, Frank’s is your oasis in the desert of chain restaurants.
Frank’s Italian Restaurant is located at 1906 Fayetteville Road Van Buren, AR 72956.
Most towns in the United States have an Asian buffet. Fort Smith has at least five. While most offer cuisine that is edible and some offer dishes that are good none are going to capture the flavor of the Orient. In order to get Asian cuisine that is authentic you have to leave Rogers Ave and head up Midland Blvd until you reach Fried Rice. While the name is simplistic they offer some of the best Asian dishes around. What sets them apart is the fact that every dish is made to order so there is no worry about your food sitting under a heating lamp for hours at a time. A word to the wise: due to its immense popularity it is difficult to get a table during lunch. Also be sure to place takeout orders early enough in order to enjoy them at lunch time.
Fried Rice is located at 3758 Midland Blvd, Fort Smith, AR 72904.
Las Fesas is probably the most low-key restaurant on this list. In fact it is one of the few restaurants not located on a main road. However Las Fresas offers some of the best Mexican cuisine in the Fort Smith area despite being located in Van Buren. They offer many of the classic dishes like Burritos, Chile Rellanos and Fajitas. They also offer unique Camaron dishes (Camaron is shrimp for those who don’t speak Spanish). Las Fresas also offers a cozy atmosphere that is perfect after a long day of traveling or work. Speaking of traveling, Las Fresas is located down the road from two major hotel chains so if you are visiting the area or just passing through be sure to check out Las Fresas.
Las Fresas is located at 613 N. Square Court Van Buren, AR 72956.
Ice Cream Cone
Have you ever wanted the chance to step back in time when things moved a little slower and the world was a little simpler? Everyone seems to at one point or another, and such a place exists in Downtown Van Buren. That place is Main Street Ice Cream Parlor and Sandwich Shop. While ice cream parlors have become a rarity, Main Street Ice Cream Parlor is unique in its own right. Designed to look like an ice cream parlor from the late 1950s and early 1960s, Main Street Ice Cream serves ice cream, malts, shakes and other delicious treats. Customers who come in for a tasty dessert can sit back and relax with episodes of The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. The owner owns DVD copies of both shows and broadcasts them for everyone’s viewing entertainment. After your dessert walk to the back of the shop and checkout the museum of collectables and sports memorabilia from days gone by. Many people consider ice cream to be a summertime treat, but Main Street Ice Cream Parlor and Sandwich Shop is perfect for every season.
Main Street Ice Cream Parlor and Sandwich Shop is located at 703 Main Street Van Buren, AR 72956.
Many years ago this examiner lived in Panama City, Florida. While he was there he encountered a restaurant called Take One Scene One. This restaurant offered customers the chance to watch movies as they dined. A few years ago Fort Smith gained a restaurant like this. Movie Lounge offers comfort food like burgers, nachos and this examiner’s favorite: wings. If you are looking for something a little trendier, Movie Lounge also offers flatbread sandwiches. The selection includes BBQ Brisket, Chicken and Bacon and Margherita (a sandwich that needs to be experienced in order to be appreciated) and of course there are the movies. Movie Lounge does play new releases, but does not show films that have long since been released on DVD and Netflix. In order to not date this piece, this examiner is not going to list what is presently playing at Movie Lounge, but will instead recommend visiting their website to see what is currently being shown.
Movie Lounge is located at 7601 Rogers Avenue Fort Smith, AR 72903.
River City Bistro
New York City is known for two forms of dining: the bistro and the deli. One Fort Smith restaurant offers both of these dining forms under one roof: River City Bistro. The restaurant opened in 2012 as River City Deli and offered Fort Smith residents dishes like Hot Pastrami Sandwiches, Loaded Potato Latkes and Bagels served with a Lox and Cream Cheese dip. Over time this restaurant has morphed into a hip upscale bistro that offers a Rotisserie Turkey Platter, Tortellini with Italian Sausage and a New York Strip that will not require a bank loan to afford. Fort Smith is a good 1000 miles away from New York, but River City Bistro can help make the Big Apple feel a little bit closer.
River City Bistro is located at 7320 Rogers Avenue #7 Fort Smith, AR 72903.
With Kansas City to the north and Memphis to the east, it should come as no surprise that Fort Smith loves BBQ. So where is the best place to go for barbecue in the River Valley? The answer is Rivertowne BBQ in Ozark. Why Rivertowne? The answer has to do with the best meats available marinated in the best ingredients to make the best tasting barbecue in the Fort Smith area. This examiner is partial to the brisket, but if you are unsure what to get order a sampler. This dish comes with brisket, sausage and best of all ribs. Want a great side to go with your meal? Forget the fries and try a Loaded Spud, a baked potato smothered with BBQ sauce and cheese, then topped with chicken or pork. Anyone will tell you that great barbecue is worth the drive, so head down to Rivertowne BBQ for a meal to rival the masters.
Rivertowne BBQ is located at 205 3rd Street Ozark, AR 72949.
R&R Curry Express
Like a lot of other cities in the nation, Fort Smith has a wide array of fast food restaurants. However Fort Smith has one kind of fast food restaurant that cannot be found just anywhere: R&R Curry, an Indian fast food restaurant. R&R Curry does not serve Big Macs or Seven Layer Burritos. Instead they serve authentic Indian dishes like Punjabee Karahi Ghosht (Goat meat prepared with special herbs and spices), Fish Shahi Korma and a Northern Curry dish that is the house special. While you won’t find these dishes at the McDonald’s on Rogers Avenue, you will experience a food and culture that most people rarely get the chance to. So if you are feeling a little daring come out to R &R Curry and see one of the reasons why Fort Smith is the Dining Capitol of Arkansas.
R&R Curry is located at 1525 Rogers Avenue Fort Smith, AR 72901.
Rolando’s Nuevo Latino Restaurante
Fort Smith has a lot of Mexican restaurants, but what if you are looking for cuisine from Central or South America? The answer is to visit Rolando’s Nuevo Latino Restaurante. Rolando’s offers dishes from the entire Latin American world. Dishes like the Pollo Chuchaqui, El Plato Cubano and Pescado de Mesias offer patrons a glimpse at the Americas. For those who would need something to wash down that delicious food, Rolando’s offers a signature Margarita made with your choice of Grey Goose Vodka or Bombay Gin, dry vermouth and topped with an olive. If you are feeling a little tropical try one of their Strawberry, Mango or Pomegranate Margaritas. They will definitely make you feel like you are on vacation.
Rolando’s Nuevo Latino Restaurante is located at 223 Garrison Avenue Fort Smith, AR 72901.
A restaurant can mean a lot of things to a community. Above all it means a place to grab a bite to eat, but what if that restaurant also served as a window into a community. That is the meaning of Steffey’s Pizza to the city of Lavaca. Steffey’s has served pizzas, Paninis, pasta dishes and other delicious dishes. However importance of Steffey’s does not end with the menu. The restaurant also serves as a place to entertain locals and tourists alike with a room on the other side of the restaurant containing pool tables and a few video games. Steffey’s occasionally has live music in the room for weekend date nights. This is what makes Steffey’s popular with the citizens of Lavaca and why Steffey’s was voted as one the Favorite Out-of-Town Restaurants by E-Fort Smith earlier this year. If you want to see what all of the fuss is about, then take the short drive to Lavaca and taste the excellence.
Steffey’s Pizza is located at 627 West Main Street Lavaca, AR 72941.
21 West End
Like this examiner previously stated the New York City dining scene is known for quaint bistros and Delis, however there is a third type of restaurant that can be found in New York: the upscale type. These particular restaurants differ from the other two varieties. They cater to an exclusive crowd that have last names like Clooney, Hilton and Trump. While it would seem unlikely that any of those names would ever show up in Fort Smith, you can eat like them by visiting 21 West End. This small restaurant located in Downtown Fort Smith is patterned after those upscale restaurants in New York. The menu at 21 West End offers luxurious dishes like Cognac Pork Loin, Filet Mignon, Mesquite Salmon and Mushroom Risotto. Add to that a cozy ambiance and candle lit tables and you have an evening of elegance. If you ever wanted to dine at a truly upscale restaurant without having to pay airfare to fly to New York, then 21 West End is the place for you.
21 West End is located at 21 N 2nd St, Fort Smith, AR 72901.