Founded in 1838, the town of Searcy, Arkansas is still a small college town, home of Harding University. It was also the site of the Battle of Whitney’s Lane in 1862 during the American Civil War. But in spite of its small size, the restaurant scene is diverse. Here’s a rundown of places to check out, from Greek and Mexican delights to Japanese and Alaskan cuisines.
You can go to Starbucks in Searcy if you want, or you can head to the Midnight Oil Coffee House for some real coffee and local culture. Just north of the Harding University campus, the coffee house is the ideal place to relax, study and enjoy some homemade cakes and coffee. Owned by the non-profit Kibo Group who works with communities in East Africa, the coffee house uses beans roasted by RoZark Hills Coffee Roasterie in nearby Rose Bud. Among the signature coffees on offer are the café Vienna, a latte with French vanilla syrup and cinnamon, and the Valencia, a latte with chocolate and orange added for extra flavor. There’s work from local artists on the walls and regular sessions from Searcy musicians.
Kibo Midnight Oil Coffee House, 801 E Race Avenue, Searcy, AR, +1 501 268 9014
Located on West Beebe Capps Expressway, the Whistle Stop Barbeque has a big reputation in Searcy and in Arkansas for the quality of their ribs and catfish. They’ve won plenty of plaudits and awards from the local press, including several ‘Best of the Best’ awards from Searcy newspaper The Daily Citizen. The extensive menu includes appetizers like BBQ cheese fries and Texas wontons, catfish mains served up with French fries, hush puppies, and tartar sauce, and the famous Whistle Stop ribs — half slabs and full slabs are available. For a real taste of the South, try the barbecue sandwiches with pulled pork, pulled chicken or sliced beef brisket.
The Pasta Grill on East Race Avenue near to the Searcy Square Shopping Center is known for its quality Italian dishes made with the very best local ingredients. Opened in August 2010 by owners Scott and Bethany Palmer, the Pasta Grill took a ‘Best of the Best’ award from The Daily Citizen for the top notch food. Among the signature dishes on offer are chicken primavera, Italian sausage piccante, fettuccine carbonara, and portabella ravioli. One other curious dish to look out for is the roasted garlic chicken cheesecake, a blend of roasted garlic chicken, peppers, onions and cream, cheddar and parmesan cheeses.
Pasta Grill, 2831 E Race Avenue, Searcy, AR, +1 501 268 8880
Burrito Day Cafe opened up in 2013 in historic downtown Searcy on East Center Avenue close to Spring Park and the Robbins Sandford Grand Hall. Burrito Day Cafe serves up quality fresh burritos and tacos for breakfast and lunch. You can build your own burritos packed with eggs, salsa, sweet potato, steak, pulled pork and enjoy with guacamole, a muffin topped with cream cheese icing or chocolate chip scones. All of the ingredients and produce used at the café is locally sourced from Arkansas farms and suppliers, and along with burritos, you can pick up nachos, quesadillas, and tacos.
Burrito Day Café, 108 E Center Avenue, Searcy, AR, +1 501 368 5545
The Greek House Grill on East Beebe Capps is another favorite place to head to if you’re working on campus at Harding University. The grill serves up classic Greek and Mediterranean fare and often caters for big parties like weddings and birthdays. The menu is packed with salads, platters, gyros, flatbread dishes and soups like Greek lemon chicken. Amongst the classics on the menu like calamari, tzatziki, spanakopita and Greek flatbreads are dishes such as pork medallions served with sun-dried tomato chutney and charbroiled local Arkansas lamb with traditional mint jelly.
Greek House Grill, 1211 E Beebe Capps Expressway, Searcy, AR, +1 501 268 3202