Here at the Fort Smith Eats secret underground headquarters, we’re what you might call evil supergeniuses. Actually, we were going to say, “we’re what you might call pie fans,” but that a) sounded like something electronic used to cool pies (hmmm…where is that Patent Office number?) and b) really, really wanted to be replaced with “evil supergeniuses.” Sometimes you can just tell.
But we’ll leave our plans for world domination to another blog post. Here, our immediate focus is pie. Comparing and contrasting pies seemed like a brilliant idea because it meant, duh, we got a “reason” to eat pies (the sacrifices we make for you, loyal Fort Smith Eats readers!).
1. The pies must be commercially available in the Fort Smith area. Don’t care how good your Aunt Lila’s strawberry-rhubarb is—if we can’t go buy it in Fort Smith, it doesn’t qualify for a Pie-Off.
2. The pies do not have to be from the same restaurant.
3. The pies do not have to be the same kind of pie. Why not? Just ‘cause. We’re the pie-eating evil supergeniuses with the blog, and we like variety.
4. There shall be no more than two pies in a Pie-Off.
5. In the end, there can be only one. No Highlander-style beheadings required.
First up to bat are two slices from what should be the quintessential pie pros: locally owned diners. Let’s meet the contestants: Continue reading
Blaze’n Burrito Mexican Grill
8230 Rogers Ave.
Fort Smith, AR 72903
*For @beatyhim our Blaze’n review is by special request;
All because he won our first contest.
A build-your-own burrito bar that we’ve often described to out-of-towners as “kind of like Subway, but Ameri-Mexican.” True – but way better. Who doesn’t love anything with a plop-o-guac on top?
Slick. The tables are shiny. The lighting is crisp. The flat panel TVs are bright. The ads look slick. Professional. This is a place that knows its vibe and knows its customers.
shiny happy tables & people. 27% less blurry IRL.
This is part sports bar, part eat-in fast food, part college hangout. (Yep, we always, always see some big kid who’s clearly a UA-FS student chomping away on The Big “B.”) It’s casual with a capital C. Casual enough for a gaggle of teenagers or a family with small children or two dudes trying to relive their youth by eating too much spicy food while watching college football together on a weekend afternoon. Continue reading
2401 South 56th
Fort Smith, AR 72903
Really, we almost trip up that step into the doorway about every time. But after you get into the restaurant, you sense the casual-ness, you smell the cinnamon rolls, and you’re seated quickly. The décor … well, it’s kind of “sensory overload,” but in a different way than Pho Vietnam. It’s old Americana, stuff you see at “nice” flea markets: retro tin food cans and serving trays covering the walls. The walls themselves are made of the 1960s/70s wood paneling that yuppies who buy older homes remove ASAP. (Full disclosure: we’d remove it too. Are we yuppies? Perhaps. Or maybe we just like sunlight. We’d tear out any shag carpeting too.)
Nuttin fancy here. This place serves “Kuhn-tree” cookin’. Calico almost seems to pride itself on the over-the-top homey-ness. But, it’s what you expect; this restaurant doesn’t change with the times or current fads. Its staid demeanor is calming even. And, really, if you’ve lived in Ft. Smith any time at all, you’ve eaten at Calico County. More than once. More than twice. And the atmosphere remains the same, whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s usually busy, too, so there is a lot of dining noise. It’s family-friendly, so expect some kid-noise, too. And, avoid it on Sundays after church. VERY busy. Continue reading
3000 Grand Ave
Fort Smith, AR 72901-3112
It’s easy to take enchiladas for granted. They’re always there, reliably and unexcitingly waiting to be selected from the menu of any Mexican restaurant worth its margarita salt. People never say, “I’m having enchiladas!” but usually, “I’ll just have the enchiladas.” They aren’t an adventurous food. Still, Fort Smith Eats is a fan of good enchiladas. Being unapologetic cheese fans, we’re usually happy with just plain cheese enchiladas. Nothing against beef or chicken, but cheese is generally where it’s at.
That’s because it’s hard to really screw up a cheese enchilada. Rolled-up tortilla. Melty cheese. Sauce. It takes a lot of work to not get that right. It’s like the PBJ of the Mexican restaurant world. Beef enchiladas can be too bland or greasy, and chicken enchiladas not covered in a spicy verde sauce or creamy sour cream sauce are typically pretty disappointing.
We’d been to Los Jalapenos on Grand Avenue just once before. It was okay. Typical rice and beans and Mexican combo dinner place. But Mexican Monday was approaching, and it had been probably over two years since the last visit, so we ventured back to the place with the grinning, shades-wearing pepper on its sign.
Hey, around here, any place with an actual logo is fancy eatin'.
2214 Rogers Ave.
Fort Smith, AR 72901
It’s gotta be said right up front. It’s in a gas station. No, not like a Taco Bell in an Exxon or a greasy “burrito” and things they insist are “potato logs” next to the baccy and fish bait at the corner Kum ‘n Go.
A REAL former gas station. The parking lot stays full during meal hours with cars stacked up by the pumps outside, so there’s no getting around that fact. Classy this joint ain’t. But it’s nothing compared to what you find inside.
Funny how people always seem to park by the pumps first, even when there are closer spots right in front. Maybe it's a shade thing.
Whoa, Nelly. Thar be décor in here. And by that we mean “décor” indiscriminately applied. Like, everything:
- Fish tanks (no fish, or water, just the 1980s-era water bubble games without water stuck in there with a bunch of ocean-themed ceramics and Troll dolls)
- Fake Hawaiian leis
- Plastic palm trees
- Large ceramic barnyard “floor animals” as we shall call them
- Plastic bread and vegetables
- A boat steering wheel and maybe an anchor
- Random stickers and decals stuck wherever
- Strands of silk autumn leaves
- Twirly stars
- “Wall fish” with bubbles coming out of their mouths that when you look closely at them you realize are happy face stickers
- What we think is a fake mounted deer head that looks suspiciously like it might break into song. You know, like those mounted fish annoyances from a couple years ago (mercifully, it doesn’t)
Mixed in with this are the extra ingredients stacked here and there on full display and in a corner under a TV stand, a bunch of dinnerware that does not seem to be in use and looks like someone’s grandmama’s. A few booths and tables fill the space that isn’t filled with other junk store detritus. The funny thing is, the parts all make up one crazy jumble of gaudyness that works as a whole in spite of itself. Continue reading