Category Archives: CheapEats

Quick Eats: Pepperoni Sandwich @ Geno’s Pizza

If you live in Fort Smith, Van Buren, Greenwood or Alma long, you’re going to find yourself eating at Geno’s Pizza. This is because there are approximately 87 Genos locations in Fort Smith alone. Okay, so there’s like, six total in the River Valley. But we swear it feels like 87 because people are always eating there. This, to us, has long been a conundrum that keeps us up into the wee hours of the morning. Our basic question has always been: why?

We figured it’s the kids and the convenience. Cheap pizza, served by the oversized slice, on styrofoam plates in a place you don’t have to clean — that’s a family outing right there. No flavor required. And they have drive-thrus. Who doesn’t love eating a big slice of bland pizza while driving, talking on the phone and texting? Gimmee a slice of Supreme and a large Diet Coke, hold the pizza artistry please.

Every so often, though, we go back and try it again. Surely if there are this many locations of a local favorite, it’s got to be good, right? On a recent drive-thru visit when we were running late and super hungry and Geno’s was right next door, we decided to try the pepperoni sub. We’d tried the ham and cheese many moons ago, but the pepperoni sandwich was probably the one menu item we’d not yet sampled. Continue reading

Fort Smith Eats @ Pho 21

Pho 21

2100 Rogers Ave.
Fort Smith AR 2901
479.494.7447

Here’s the way things work in Fort Smith. If you’re going to be a kick-ass Vietnamese restaurant, you’re probably going to need to be in some building that was once quite obviously something else. Pho Vietnam, for instance, is in the old gas station. Green Papaya is in an old Dairy Queen. Pho Hoang on the other hand, is in what we think used to be a Mexican restaurant, but at least was something less iconically restaurant-shaped than the others. This is why Pho Hoang, while awfully good, is not quite as good as the others. If it were in, say, an old Pizza Hut, the food would taste that much better.

That’s why it’s lucky that Pho 21 is in a building that we think was originally a Church’s Chicken, though it still looks to us like the KFC we remember. You can paint a roof turquoise, but that shape ain’t ever going to look Vietnamese. But see, according to our Fort Smith Eats Law of Vietnamese Restaurant Buildings, this means the food’s pretty solid. Continue reading

Meal-Atta-Glance: French Onion Soup & Salad at Varsity Grill

Varsity Sports Grill

318 Garrison Ave.
Fort Smith, AR 72901
479.494.7173

Been a bit nippy lately, hasn’t it? Whenever the wind sends a chill right to the very marrow of our bones, Fort Smith Eats starts thinking soup. Mmm. Soup.

Have you ever known someone who didn’t like soup? We have. They were strange, unnerving, off-balance folks, the soup-haters. Coincidence? We think not.

Soup haters (started to make that one word, but then it’d be Souphaters, which does that phreaky PH thing and we pheared you might phumble over the fonetics, thus disrupting the natural phlow of the sentence, so we lepht it two words. You’re welcome.) might have a hard time hanging out with us. We eat a lot of soup. And one of our all-time favorite kinds of soup is French Onion. We don’t know why the onion has to be French. Maybe any nationality of onion would do. Canadian Onion Soup? Burmese Onion Soup? We’d try them. But since Ivory Coast Onion Soup isn’t on the menu anywhere in town — trust us, we’re the experts — when the weather got into the single digits we had a craving for some French Onion.

If there’s a better French Onion Soup in town than at Varsity Sports Grill, please let us know and we will literally drop everything and rush over to try it. Because Varsity may not be high-falutin cooking, but they do a reliable soup.

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Hardee’s Fried Bologna Biscuit: The Fort Smith Eats Experience

Don’t say we never did anything for you, Fort Smith Eats readers.

Sure, we eat at area restaurants practically every day. Sure, we carve out time from our days to write and blog and tweet about what we’ve discovered just to share with you, so you and your families can know what is good, great, or avoidable about our local eateries. Sure, we do this at our own often considerable expense, with no profit in mind, other than the gratification that comes from interacting with you and knowing we’re helping our community in some small way.

All this is true. But never until now had we truly realized the sacrifice our commitment to you might sometimes require.

A while back, one of our readers and early Twitter followers, @WendyWhy, asked us if we’d eat Hardee’s new fried bologna biscuit and tell her how it was.

Now, we like food. We like food a lot. We like high falutin foodie food and we like low brow street food and we like a great deal of food in between. There are few menu items in Fort Smith whose names alone have ever reduced us to squealing like a little girl: Ewwwwwwww!

But the mischievous Ms. @WendyWhy knew that Hardee’s fried bologna biscuit was one of those items. In fact, probably THE item that makes our usually steel Fort Smith Eats tummy go flopping around in our belly at just the thought. Continue reading

Mexican Monday Meal-Atta-Glance: La Ranchera Tortilla Sopa (con Pollo) at Rolando’s

Rolando’s Nuevo Latino Restaurante

223 Garrison Avenue
Fort Smith, AR 72901
479.573.0404
www.rolandosrestaurante.com

Ok, so Rolando’s isn’t actually Mexican.

But “Nuevo Latino Cuisine Monday”? Not quite as catchy.

Besides, tortilla soup IS Mexican, and the cuisines are close enough cousins that they ought not to be kissing, if you know what we mean.

Don’t know about you, but Fort Smith Eats loves us some tortilla soup. We’ve found that when you’re stuck at a Mexican restaurant and you’re not really in the mood for the standard rice & beans dishes and you’re maybe not tremendously ravenous — or you just want something a little lighter — tortilla soup fits the bill almost always. Almost every Mexican restaurant has some variety of it (though, oddly, not Los Jalapenos, which just has seafood-based soups). Tortilla soup is usually surprisingly filling, affordable, and happy tasting.

Rolando's Restaurante Fort Smith Arkansas Ft Smith Fort Smith Eats Interior Garrison Avenue

Rolando's comfortably cluttered interior looks much nicer than Fort Smith Eats' "comfortably cluttered" abode tends to look.

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Sweet Bay Meal-Atta-Glance: $4.99 Lunch Special

Sweet Bay by the Park (plus 3 other locations)

3400 Rogers Ave.
Ft. Smith, AR 72903
479.785.0685
www.sweetbaycoffee.com

We love Sweet Bay. We really do. If you’re looking for a nice Fort Smith place to sit and chat, or read, or work or people watch, it’s hard to beat the Bay, especially the flagship Creekmore Park location with its cozy fireplace den in one part and its open garage-door-window sunroom area overlooking the park. But one of the few complaints we have about our favorite locally owned full-service café is the prices can really add up.

We totally cribbed this picture from Google Images. Don't tell.

We totally cribbed this picture from Google Images. Don't tell.

Individually, paying $5.49 for a sandwich, or $1.25 for a one-time-refillable glass of iced plum tea, or $3.70 for a large frozen peanut butter mocha or $1.99 for a muffin don’t seem like much, perfectly reasonable. Together, though, or when you’re paying for more than one person? We inevitably get a little sticker-shock. We’ve never figured out how it happens that every time it seems like it’s about 30% more than we had expected. (You guys never realized how cheap we are, did you?)

Until now. Sweet Bay this summer started running lunch specials. Here’s what you can get: Continue reading

Mexican Monday Meal-Atta-Glance: El Super Taco’s Rolled Tacos

El Super Taco (several locations)

1930 Midland Blvd.
Fort Smith, AR 72904-5918
479.782.9694

You know, here at Fort Smith Eats, we’re not always fancy. We know our way around a white tablecloth place, sure, but we also just love good food, no matter where we find it. One place you we can reliably find good, fast, cheap, authentic Mexican food in the city is the place with the name that always makes us inwardly giggly, El Super Taco. (Tip #1: You’ll enjoy it 63% more if you always say it with the enthusiasm and approximated accent of a Mexican gameshow host, with many exclamation points. “Elllll Souuuuper Tacooo!!!”)

"Diet Breakers!" = Truth in advertising.

"Diet Breakers!" = Truth in advertising.

Why is it that restaurants in former gas stations always bring the awesome?

Why is it that restaurants in former gas stations always bring the awesome?

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