Faulkner County in Conway has a variety of culinary cultures and offers everything from Japanese cooking, Cajun, Mexican and classic Southern-style catfish to barbecue food and baking outlets. We take a look at 10 of the best restaurants in Conway.
Cross Creek Sandwich Shop
The Cross Creek Sandwich Shop is something of a unusual venue, located inside Jenifer’s Antiques in the Downtown area of Conway, not far from the Asa P.Robinson Historic District and the Faulkner County Museum. The shop takes its name from Cross Creek Farm, once owned by the grandmother of the owner. Cross Creek Sandwich Shop is ideally situated, allowing local workers to drop in at lunchtime for a bowl of soup, a sandwich, salad or wrap. Look out on the menu for the Apple Creek sandwich – packed with bacon, smoked turkey, cheese, apple, spinach and Dijon sauce, or the chicken quesadilla Panini.
Eat My Catfish are specialists in serving up the Southern staple of fresh catfish and crawfish. The Conway restaurant is a venture that builds on the success of Eat My Catfish in Benton to the south-west of the state capital of Little Rock, which proved a huge success. In Conway, in the Eat My Catfish restaurant, you can choose from freshly caught and cooked catfish and crawfish, or go for hand-battered chicken tenders, chicken wings and fresh shrimp.
Ed’s Custom Bakery is a real local favorite in Conway, offering up lots of freshly baked cakes and delicacies either to buy and enjoy there and then or to order in advance according to your specific culinary requirements. Be warned however, many come away from the Bakery and cannot help but return time and time again. Ed’s Custom Bakery is located on Oak Street just off Highway 65 to the north-west of the city center. The bakery can provide everything from cookies, cakes and doughnuts to pastries and brownies, all of them prepared freshly on the day of purchase. The smiley-face cookies are particularly recommended by locals.
Do not be fooled by the name – although there is plenty of fish and seafood on offer, The Fish House also serves up lots of classic barbecue meat dishes. The menu is focused on real classic Southern flavors, with Hickory-smoked barbecue meats cooked in the pit, all of them smothered in trademark sauces. Ribs, sausages, chopped and sliced beef and pork are all available with lots of fried okra, potato salad, baked or pinto beans. There is plenty of fish on the menu too: watch out for crawfish tails, breaded scallops, shrimp, catfish, tilapia and rainbow trout. The fillets of catfish are hugely popular.
La Huerta serves up classic Mexican cuisine in Conway using fresh ingredients to create the finest tacos, burritos and fajitas. The restaurant is family-owned and lies on Harrison Street in the center of the city, just south of Hendrix College. All of the seats carry a painting of scenes from Mexican life and there are a selection of wonderful embroideries on the walls. On the menu are ground meat or bean tamales with chili or savory sauces, gourmet burritos of beef or chicken, cheese or bean and tacos served with fried tortillas stuffed or rolled with beef or chicken. If you fancy classic fajitas, you can enjoy them served with marinated beef or chicken strips.
Owner Mike Coats hails from southern Louisiana and Mike’s Place offers a dose of Gulf Coast hospitality and cuisine. The Deep South inspiration influences everything from the interior decor to the flavor combinations on the extensive menu. The building dates back to 1907 and has been painted a deep red with extra features such as fountains and iron railings, giving it that New Orleans feel. Many residents of Conway head south to the Gulf Coast for their vacations, so the cooking of the Deep South is a real favorite. At Mike’s Place there are plenty of beef strips, shrimp and shellfish on the menu. You can choose from French-style pork chops, freshly caught salmon, pan-seared catfish, Gulf Coast shrimp, calamari, crab cakes and the house specialty of shrimp Brantley.
The Italian Pasta Grill on Frost Street, near to the junction of 64th Street, offers a menu that incorporates bits of Cajun and Southern cooking into the Italian backbone of the menu. There are lunch, dinner, and specialty menus rotating during the different servings of the day. On the dinner menu, find curious fusions of gastronomic styles such as the Jambalaya Pasta that mixes Polish sausage, grilled chicken and Cajun cream sauce. If you fancy classic Italian dishes, there is chicken parmigiana, lasagne, manicotti, and tortellini on offer. On the specialty menu, enjoy dishes such as parmesan crusted scallops, crawfish tails with peppered sausage, filet mignon or New York strip.
Pitza42 is a dining concept that focuses on providing patrons with healthy pita pizzas – pitzas – or salads depending on their tastes. It is the ethical side of dining however, that is stressed at Pitza42. A program is set in place, ensuring that for every meal sold to diners by the restaurant, a donation is made to the charity Feed My Starving Children. Thus far Pitza42, has managed to raise funds for 382,434 meals for children in the developing world. On the menu, find pitzas with flavors such as barbecue chicken, red onion, tomatoes, pepper, and pineapple, chicken with olives and chicken with Mexican and Monterey sauces.
At Stoby’s you can pick up a sandwich, sit down and enjoy a succulent burger, or indulge in some trademark cheese dip.Stoby’s is particularly renowned for the quality of the breakfasts – they were listed on the best breakfasts in America by Esquire Magazine and you can choose from dishes such as eggs Benedict, Virginia ham and Denver, Spanish, or Mushroom omelets to start the day. If you are looking for something later in the day, there are plenty of soups available at Stoby’s, as well as Cajun Jambalaya, barbecue dishes with hickory bacon, Jamaican jerk chicken, and half-pounder burgers. All of the desserts are freshly made next door at PattiCakes Bakery.
Umami Sushi is known as the top sushi restaurant in Conway and one of the best in the state of Arkansas. The cuisine offered up by the owner Johnny Ho is far from strict in its interpretation of Japanese cooking however, with influences with American gastronomy thrown in too. The name of the restaurant comes from the Japanese word for ‘savory’, one of the five tastes of Japanese cooking. At Umami you can get sushi or sashimi dishes, rolls, mahi-mahi, or rib-eye cut from premium American Kobe beef, or even dishes that show influences from Hawaii and Pacific Island cooking.