18 November 2016
When in Rome...or Arkansas
I traveled with my trio to Southwest Arkansas last weekend. The continuous deciduous forest everywhere I looked was pretty, and all the people I met were extremely nice. I was staying in a town with a college, but no coffee shop (but three donut shops), in a county that had just gone from dry to wet in the past year, in a state that fries everything. So, it wasn't like my usual haunts, but I nonetheless managed to eat some tasty stuff. (I am still detoxing from the alt intake, but I hear you body needs salt, so...)
In Magnolia, AR:
Backyard Barbeque was way too much food, but crazy good. I had the pork sandwich (sliced rather than pulled, but the equally good brisket is pulled rather than sliced) with coleslaw and beans that came heaped with sausage, pepper and onions. They also keep mugs frosty in the chest freezer for one of the three beers on tap: Bud, Bud Light, and Goose IPA (?!) Apparently the pie is very good, but I don't know how I possibly could have digested it.
We went to Flying Burger several times, because they were often the only restaurant open, and they had salads. Fried catfish, tilapia, crawdads. and shrimp can be put on salads, in po' boys or tacos, or served up on a platter with sides like greens, grilled squash, fried broccoli, beans and rice, etc. And everything comes with hush puppies, so no need to order extra.
I never made it to Marlar's Cafeteria. which gets high ratings on Yelp but was never opened when I wasn't working. But I would have liked to have tried their chicken and dumplings with black eyed peas and greens. Another time, perhaps. Also, the first Yelp review is a perfectly charming summation of my time in Magnolia.
Sadly, many restaurants, even in this booming metropolis, were not open for lunch Sunday on my way back to the airport. I can tell you that locals recommend the boudin at Bergeron's. We did manage to find an absolutely beautiful Indian buffet at Indigo Bistro, and it was heaven. The vindaloo was quite spicy and flavorful (pretty brave for a buffet, but maybe they're more hip to that sort of thing in Cajun country), tikka was surprisingly tomato-y but good, and the aloo saag was a surprising symphony of flavors. The service was welcoming and the restaurant itself was this glorious mix of Gothic Southern architecture and classic Hindu style, all cleverly disguised by its boring facade (see below) in a suburban strip mall. It's right off the loop that gets you to the airport. Go there.
PS--The staff at the Hampton Inn were so helpful that when we bought beer at Walmart because there were no bars and discovered we didn't have a bottle opener, they let us use their's for, like, three days. Also the breakfast waffles were pretty good.