Arkansas attractions

10 must-visit NWA restaurants for newcomers

An estimated 30 people move through the area each day, and we thought we’d accommodate those newbies by giving them the inside scoop on where the NWA natives have been eating all this time.

To note : Here is a list of places familiar to people who have lived here for a while, not necessarily the best NWA restaurants.

1. Hugo’s

How is it : We know we said this isn’t a list of the best restaurants, but ask anyone and they’ll tell you Hugo’s has some of the best burgers in town. It’s been around since the 70s and remains reliably packaged.

  • If you’re new here, you might just walk by – the entrance is in a basement.

Or: 25 1/2 N Block Ave. in Fayetteville.

2. Pizza Eureka

How is it : With great pizzas as low as $7, it’s the definition of “good for the price”. Eating Eureka Pizza is something of a rite of passage. It’s great for college students, kids’ birthday parties, or when you just want a solid, inexpensive pizza.

  • Eureka has been around since the early 90s.

Or: Seven slots in the NWA and one in Fort Smith.

3. JJ’s

How is it : Since 2008 we have relied on them for pub food accompanied by local live music. The one on Dickson Street in Fayetteville becomes particularly lively.

  • Watch for their frozen margarita specialties.

Or: Five NWA sites in Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers and Bella Vista.

4. thin chickens

How is it : Everything chicken — tenderloins, wings, sandwiches, wraps and salads. This is the one you go to on purpose, because you crave Slims, and by accident, because it’s late at night and their drive-thru is still open. And the reviews for Slim’s Original Sauce are strong.

  • Slim Chickens is an NWA hit. The first opened in 2003 in Fayetteville and the restaurant now has around 140 locations in the US and UK. And even one in Kuwait.

Or: Nine slots in the NWA, including Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers and Bentonville.

5. Gusano’s pizza

How is it : Lots of specialty and Chicago style pizzas. Some places have trivia nights and rooms for parties.

  • OK, so Gusano technically started in Little Rock, but they’ve also been ours since 2005 and have more NWA spots than anywhere else.

Or: Five NWA sites in Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville and Bella Vista.

6. Herman’s Ribhouse

How is it : Like many local haunts, Herman’s is almost legendary as a place where business is done. Much of the history you can see on its walls; some you just have to listen to.

  • The food is simple – steaks, ribs, chicken, shrimp – but it’s seasoned with great care and unlike any other. Ideal for dinner.

Or: 2901 N College Ave. in Fayetteville.

7. Neal’s Coffee

How is it : Another place where business has been done for generations. Neal’s was recently named in the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame. Maybe it’s the pink facade, or the decor of the hunting lodge.

  • Or maybe it’s the portions, which are huge. Again, maybe that’s the pie. Ideal for lunch.

Or: 806 N Thompson St. in Springdale.

8. Susan’s Family Restaurant

How is it : Susan’s is what all those national breakfast chains want to be one day.

  • Where else could you get a chicken fried chicken “Chickendale breakfast”? Served with a side of sass (for regular customers). Ideal for breakfast but also open for lunch.

Or: 1440 W. Sunset Avenue in Springdale.

9. Fred’s Hickory Inn

How is it : Fred’s is another simple offering, but it’s a bit of a late-night hangout. The menu offers steaks, seafood, pastas and sandwiches. The ribs are to be dipped in the house sauce.

  • It’s been around for over 50 years, so they must be doing it right.

Or: 1502 N. Walton Blvd. in Bentonville.

ten. catfish hole

How is it : The Fayetteville location is a favorite of the Arkansas football team. If you leave here hungry, you haven’t been careful.

  • What else but catfish? Frog legs, shrimp and chicken with lots and lots of hushpuppies and fries.

Or: ​4127 W. Wedington Drive in Fayetteville and 24 Collum Lane W in Alma.

Bonus: 5 emerging must-haves
The chicken nachos at Yeyo’s show why they’re here to stay. Photo: Alex Golden/Axios

1. by Yeyo

How is it : Yeyo’s sources much of its ingredients from the Rios Family Farm in Little Flock and the Hanna Family Ranch in Bentonville, which they use to make exceptional Mexican dishes. Yeyo started as a food truck in 2012 and later established physical restaurants in 2017 and 2020.

  • Chef Rafael Rios was recently named a James Beard Award semi-finalist as one of the best chefs in the South.

Or: Restaurants: 801 SE 8th St. Suite 41 in Bentonville and 101 E. Walnut St. in Rogers. Food Truck: 122 W. Central Ave. in Bentonville.

2. Wright’s BBQ

How is it : A damn good wood-smoked barbecue that you can order by the pound, on a sandwich, or with standard sides like potato salad or macaroni and cheese. It opened in 2017.

Or: 2212 Main Drive in Fayetteville and 208 NE 3rd St. in Bentonville.

3. Pizzeria Ruby

How is it : Having just opened in 2021, it’s too new to call Ruby a staple just yet, but we expect it will stand the test of time. The pizza is some of the best in the NWA, the restaurant is always packed, and is in a booming neighborhood of Johnson where housing and commercial space are popping up fast.

Or: 5519 Hackett Street, Suite 100.

4. Farmer’s Table Coffee

How is it : The eclectic and welcoming restaurant opened in 2014, serving classic Southern breakfasts and a lunch menu with a build-your-own burger and beans, greens, and cornbread bowl. And they enlarge the space!

Or: 1079 S. School Ave. in Fayetteville.

5. Havana Tropical Grills

How is it : One of the few Cuban restaurants in the NWA, it opened in 2010 and was one of four restaurants in Arkansas appointed in the top 100 places to eat according to Yelp in 2021.

Or: 203 N. 2nd St. in Rogers