Well, Sonny, that's a great question... and considering you're coming from Mountain Home, you're taking a very musical culinary journey. After all, Arkansas has many treasures -- and the preservation folk movement centered in Mountain View and Helena-West Helena's location at the heart of Blues nation make this a fantastic trip for music lovers.
Enough with the flowery speech. Sonny, here's a list of recommendations to get you from point A to point B and through the festival itself.
|American Burger Center in Melbourne. (Grav Weldon)|
|Biscuit and eggs at Meacham's|
Family Restaurant in Ash Flat.
|Seafood platter at Who Dats|
in Bald Knob.(Kat Robinson)
|Coconut meringue pie at The|
Bulldog Restaurant in Bald Knob.
|Fried catfish sandwich at Gene's Barbecue in Brinkley.|
33 down towards Brinkley, make a spot in your trip for a layover at Gene's Barbecue. The 'cue is okay, but the fried catfish sandwich is even better. Gene's still believes in the ivory billed woodpecker, old radio hits and pickled stuff -- and picking up a jar of whatever's on top of the pie case isn't a bad bet.
|Inside Kelley's Restaurant at Wynne.|
If you choose to head due east on Highway 64 to Wynne, you should think about stopping in at Kelley's Restaurant. Located within spitting distance of the right-hand turn onto Highway 1, it's a family affair with an excellent buffet and good pie.
Another good choice -- Colby's. This great community restaurant offers everything but the kitchen sink. The burgers are adaptable, tenacious and juicy, there's always a good dinner choice available and the eatery offers some of the best fried green tomatoes around.
|Breakfast at The Old Sawmill Cafe|
in Forrest City. (Kat Robinson)
|Strawberry pie at Nana's Diner in Forrest City. (Kat Robinson)|
|Mr. Harold Jones at Jones' Barbecue Diner|
in Marianna. (Grav Weldon)
Jones' Barbecue Diner.
If it's after noon or if Mr. Harold's out of 'cue, head out towards Mississippi River State Park and stop in at Cap 'N' Jack's at the triangle... and have yourself some of this. Kim calls it Duck Tail Fudge, and it is too much. Dream-makingly good.
|Ray's Dairy Maid in Barton. (Grav Weldon)|
|No joke at Burger Shack in Helena-West Helena.(Grav Weldon)|
Now, if you were coming any other time than The Biscuit, I'd suggest you look for this trailer right here along Highway 49 on the west side of town. But it won't be there during the festival. It'll be on Cherry Street, not far from the Delta Cultural Center and all the action. You want to stop here. You NEED to stop here. That's because this is the truest iteration of the Arkansas Delta Tamale, I kid
|The genuine Pasquale's Tamale. (Grav Weldon)|
It's where you can obtain those marvelous Pasquale's Tamales -- a tamale brought down through the St. Columbia family passed down from Peter St. Columbia -- who came all the way from Cefalu, Sicily in 1892 and who ended up settling in Helena. He learned how to make tamales from Mexican immigrants who came to work the cotton fields. The recipe was perfected in a little soul food cafe rented out to a lovely couple who gave it their own twist. The prime beef tamales developed through Peter and his son Pasquale (called Sam) and through that restaurant and on down the line to grandson Joe, who's still making them with his wife Joyce today. They're excellent -- but you'll love them even better if you get a mess of them with chili and cheese and onions and peppers.
And then of course, there's the food of the biscuit. I took a series of photos at last year's festival. You won't have any trouble finding good food on Cherry or Walnut Streets... just remember to stay hydrated, relax and enjoy yourself.