Fort Smith Eats @ Cara’s


Cara’s at Brunwick Place  

115 N. 10th St. Ste. E101
Fort Smith, AR 72901
479.434.5045

Charm. That’s what Cara’s is really about, we think. A charming little café in a charming little set of shops. Food that’s somewhere between foodie fare and comfort fare. An owner who makes a point to learn your name and never fails to welcome you back or gently berate you for not coming more often. It’s a place that you might have quibbles about this or that, but it’s really almost impossible not to like. They charm you.  

Cara’s opened in the red brick old-time shopping center, Brunwick Place, earlier this year. It’s got an appealing atmosphere that manages to be bright and dark at the same time. Deep colors and warm lights, and a casual vibe set the mood.   

Cara's at Brunwick Place Ft. Smith AR restaurants Fort Smith Eats

The old Landry's locale received a nice update before Cara's opened for business this year.

 

When Cara herself isn’t back in the kitchen making the magic, she’s out on the floor working the room. Her broad smile and Southern openness combine to engage anyone and everyone in conversation till she’s learned your name, profession and family history, and given you a hug and possibly a taste of something new she just whipped up for the menu.

Cara herself in Cara's at Brunwick Place Ft. Smith AR restaurants Fort Smith Eats

That's Cara there. You can tell because she's being friendly talking to customers. That and the sassy hip/leg pose she's striking. She's a sassy one, that Cara.

 

 It’s obvious from her attitude that Cara’s a fan of the film (and/or book) Fried Green Tomatoes. Not to mention she named a star sandwich (offered only as a special, not daily) after it: The Whistlestop BLT.

 

 

Whistlestop Cafe Sandwich Fried Green Tomato BLT Cara's Brunwick Place Fort Smith AR restaurants

BLT with a twist--those are fried green tomaters in there.

 

We like this BLT right well, though it’s not what true BLT aficionados are likely to consider authentic.  Besides having the fried green tomatoes, it’s got those fancy salad greens like you find in the $4 bags of European Spring Mix or what have you at the supermarket, bacon (good), and basil-herb dressing, which works for some people and really doesn’t for others. The sandwich is a hit, but if you were to ask Fort Smith Eats for suggestions, we’d suggest adding fried green tomatoes by themselves, with a bit of remoulade, perhaps, to the menu as a side or appetizer. They’d sell like hotcakes.

Really, we prefer the Veggie Stack sandwich. It’s hard to find good veggie main-course options, sometimes, and this one full of portabello mushrooms, red peppers and other vegetables is always tasty.

Veggie Stack Sandwich, Cara's Brunwick Place Fort Smith AR restaurants

Stacks of veggies on this recommended menu standard. Nary a meat in sight.

 

Sandwiches come with chips, or a side item or soup. Of the several sides offered, one stands out above all others:

Tomozzaliba Cara's Brunwick Place Fort Smith AR restaurants

The High Queen of Sides on Cara's menu--meet the Tomozzaliba. Two types of grape tomatoes, black olives, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and a lemon basil vinaigrette. We still can't pronounce it, but get one syllable out (even less, really) and they'll know what you want. It's a can't-miss.

 

Speaking of salads, there are some main-course ones, including the Tomozzaliba (we’re gonna wring her neck one of these days for not giving that dish an easier name). The Strawberry Chicken Salad is a good one.

Strawberry Chicken Salad, Cara's at Brunwick Place Ft. Smith AR Fort Smith Eats

Spring mix, herb-baked chicken, strawberries, portobello mushrooms, red onions, walnuts & parmesan cheese, with poppyseed dressing.

 

Pulled pork makes an appearance on several menu items. Probably the favorite is the shreeded pork tacos, which are about $1.75 each unless you hit them on the daily special, when they’re 4 for $5, shown here:

Shredded Pork Tacos Taco Soup Cara's Brunwick Place Fort Smith AR restaurants

Wreath O' Pork? Don't try hanging this on your door. The highly popular shredded pork tacos special.

 

The tacos weren’t what we expected. This is probably a good thing, as the alternative would be fairly boring. They’re smallish soft tacos (4 is still fairly filling) in white corn tortillas, with lots of cilantro and red onion and some sort of white sauce that was pretty good. Next time we’ll order them sans onions.

You’ll notice in the middle of the plate the Taco Soup, the sacred fire around which the pork tacos dance. The Taco Soup tasted great, like Taco Soup usually does. But our problem with it is that the $5 special had the option of just tacos, or tacos with chips and salsa, or tacos with soup. The tacos with soup option was $8.95. Now. Does that look like a $4 bowl of soup?

Empty "bowl" of soup. Cara's BrunwickPlace Fort Smith AR restaurants

C'mon. This "bowl" is suitable for a) jello from the hospital cafeteria or b) pudding from the hospital cafeteria. This is not a bowl for soup.

 

As for our favorite thing at Cara’s this time of year, that’d be the Sometimes-Soup de Jour, Pumpkin Bisque. It is perfect. Cara’s has a daily presence on Facebook, an e-mail list, and a sign out front all proclaiming the daily specials (Hey, Cara’s, what about Twitter? C’mon, all the cool kids Tweet.). Whenever we see that pumpkin bisque is the soup of the day, all other lunch plans must be put on hold.  

Pumpkin Bisque Cara's Brunwick Place Ft. Smith AR Taste of Fort Smith 2009

We're ashamed to admit that the only picture we have of the glorious Pumpkin Bisque is from this sample at Taste of Fort Smith. You might have seen us there, slurping up the last bits of these samples with our tongues, oblivious to all rules of social decorum.

 

Now for the desserts.

Chances are, the degree to which you rave about Cara’s cakes is going to depend quite a lot on how much fuss you like made over desserts. Are you playing on the “Death by Seven Layer Molten Chocolate Orgasm Raspberry Volcano Cake Blast” team or are you the star pitcher for Team “Boozy Bundt Cakes Rock The World”?

If you’re on the former team, Applebee’s probably has something sinfully decadent mass-produced just for you.

If you like your desserts simple, homemade and not drenched in (or actually touched by any) icing, you need to get yourself over to Cara’s quickly. She usually has at least two liqueur-infused Bundt cakes and something a little more splashy, like the Amaretto Brownie Torte. We thought this tasted good, but couldn’t taste the amaretto whatsoever. There’s chocolate and whipped cream and a few fresh berries, so we’re not really complaining too much.

Cara’s cakes tend to have names that sound like Starbucks drinks and/or classic cocktails in the 50’s. The Harvey Wallbanger Cake, for example. Does anyone order those drinks anymore? People sure order her Wallbanger cakes.

The slices of cake are generous. Okay, guiltily big. You kind of don’t feel bad you’re not getting icing, because heck, you’re getting about 1/8th of a cake to eat.

Witness the Venti-sized chunks of cake below. They really are some of the best Bundt cakes we’ve ever had, light and airy, with deeply nuanced flavor. The blueberry one below was rather dry, but that’s definitely been the exception to the rule. They’re characteristically moist. On rare occasions when our karma’s working extra hard for us, we’ve even had them the best way ever–fresh out of the oven and STILL WARM. Oh. Our. Gawd.

Pumpkin Caramel Rum Cake Cara's Brunwick Place Ft. Smith AR Fort Smith Eats

Pumpkin Caramel Rum Cake

 

Vodka Lemon Blueberry Cake, Cara's Brunwick Place Ft. Smith AR Fort Smith Eats

Vodka Lemon Blueberry Cake

 

Kahlua Fudge Cake Cara's Brunwick Place Ft. Smith AR Fort Smith Eats

Kahlua Fudge Cake

 

Even though the prices are adding up on your meal already, trust us and order a cup of coffee with your cake. It makes Cara’s cakes 58% better. And they were good to start.

Coffee Cara's Brunwick Place Ft. Smith AR Fort Smith Eats

Coffee was good. Really good. We liked the mugs, too.

 

So there you go. Cara’s at Brunwick Place. Charmed, we’re sure.

Flippy Guy Cara's Brunwick Place Ft. Smith AR restaurants Fort Smith Eats

Will you flip for Cara's like this guy? We did. Head over heels. Though if you think about it, this guy is actually heels over head. What's with that expression, anyway?

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12 responses to “Fort Smith Eats @ Cara’s

  1. Just found this site from a link Cara’s had posted on FaceBook. My fav thing about Cara’s is that before the cold weather, you could tell she used the potted basil at the diners entry daily. (Love basil, recognize a well used plant!) Fort Smith Eats is going to be a great resoce for me, pics are amazing, reviews very user-friendly. My current cold weather quick lunch is hot & sour soup from Diamond Head on Midland, but always looking out for new options.
    Got lucky enough to catch Leoncia’s final night with the great Celtic music. Sure gonna miss those crabcakes!

    • Also..glad you found us, Shell H. Spread the word.

      We’re going to have to try the hot & sour at Diamond Head now. It’s easy to find hot & sour soup. Hot & sour & great soup is much much rarer.

      And yes. Leoncia’s crabcakes, R.I.P. Those were good and will be remembered fondly.

  2. BTW , the fried green beans in the header, where???

  3. Umm, yeah. So I read this post and told my husband that we MUST try Cara’s. He gave her a call, on the off chance she might be open on a Saturday. (Didn’t expect so, but couldn’t hurt to ask, right?)

    So. She asked where we heard about her, and he mumbled some inane guy response…well, she called back later and asked for the website.

    Before you hand down my sentencing, (what is the sentencing for tattling, btw?), just remember that I sent more traffic your way.

    Your own fault, dontchaknow.

  4. True Grit Tattoo Parlor

    Everything I’ve had was wonderful, but the pork tacos take the prize. They’re simple, delicious, and very filling. The side salads are quality lettuces with homemade dressings. I recommend the blue cheese. It’s amazingly good.
    It’s just like Mom’s home cookin’ , if she could cook.

    • Haha. You’re right as you can be about the dressings. Bet you folks eat there a lot, don’t you, being in Brunwick Place as well? Also, have to say we love your business name–’bout time someone started capitalizing on Fort Smith’s movie fame! We dream of starting a local restaurant called True Grits Cafe. 🙂

      Then maybe Lonesome Dove Saloon. There are probably other good ones, too.

  5. Come link up with the Arkansas Bloggers group. It’s not a finished product yet, but it is a start. Maybe perfection will come later:) There are no rules or obligations…just a working list of people with Arkansas or Arkansas-related blogs. Happy New Year!

  6. Looks like a nice place to visit. I live in Russellville not too far from you. Thanks, Doylene

  7. C’mon up, Doylene! Then we’ll come down there in return. Where do you recommend in Russellville? We like Stoby’s, and keep hearing CJ’s Burger Boy is good.

  8. Where is Fort Smith Eats now? I love your reviews, sassy asides and all. What did you do, move to Portland?

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