Category Archives: Soups

Meal-Atta-Glance: Ribeye at Rib Eye Steakhouse

Rib Eye Steakhouse

1400 Highway 71
Fort Smith, AR 72901-8470
479.646.0933

We’re starting this post in a bad position, a defensive one. But here goes.

Dear Restaurants of the World & Greater Fort Smith Area: If you insist on having dim, romantic lighting, fine. But be aware you’re going to get dim, unromantic pictures. We’re sorry about this, really, but there’s not much we can do. Since it’s hard enough to whip out the camera at the dinner table without raising suspicions, we can’t exactly set up a photo studio with reflective panels and stand lighting. So, no matter how delicious and attractive your food may be, we can’t guarantee our Fort Smith Eats photos of it won’t turn out looking like they were art directed by someone more accustomed to making adult movies in their basement, circa 1971. We do our best, but there’s only so much we can do to eliminate that dark, shag-carpeted vibe.

That brings us to today’s restaurant, Rib Eye Steakhouse, which may indeed have been last decorated in 1971. We like Rib Eye, and we can tell you how to get there fine. What we may not be able to do is tell you how to get back to your table if you venture forth to the restroom.

The place is a labyrinth. You’ve got your open-style dining rooms in the front, but if you find yourself following the server back past the aisles of booths, up the ramp, around the corner and through the windy corridors in which they have hidden surprised diners into every nook and cranny, you’d best build some time into your evening itinerary for finding your way back out of the place. Take breadcrumbs. (They looked older to be sure, but we think in one dark corner we may have even stumbled on Amelia Earhart and Jimmy Hoffa having dinner).

This, for instance is one of the tables we found along the way, in a private walled-off booth/stall.

Rib Eye Steakhouse interior Ft. Smith AR Fort Smith Eats

Thank the good Lord for the placemats and tableware, or this might look like a police interrogation room from a movie. Wait, is that Batman in the shadows? He's sneaky.

We truly don’t mean to dis on Rib Eye. It’s been a beloved Fort Smith institution for many years, and there are a number of excellent reasons for its longevity.

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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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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. 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