There is a secret thrill I get when I find great food in unexpected places. Based on the popularity of shows like Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, No Reservations, and Man v. Food, I suspect I’m not the only one. There is a fascination with the idea that looks can be deceiving — that even gas stations can serve great tacos. It’s the food experience of Russian roulette. The exciting part of
eating discovering great food where you least expect it is the potential for the meal to go exceedingly well or horribly wrong.
I recently visited a dear friend of mine in Bentonville, AK. Bentonville, in the 2010 Census, had an estimated population of 35,301. Compare this to DC’s estimated population of 601,723. Despite its relatively small size, Bentonville also happens to be the home of Walmart, my dear friend’s new employer. She asked a few of her co-workers for recommendations of places to visit and sites to see for an out-of-town tourist. Eureka Springs, “the extraordinary escape“, was suggested more than once. The entire town is a recognized historic landmark, and includes such fun features as a hotel that has “ground level” entrances for each of its 8 floors, and an outdoor staircase that is considered its own street by the US Government.
Eureka Springs is also lodged in the Ozark Mountains. The map below highlights our journey from Bentonville to Eureka Springs. Please note the windy roads and mountainous topography. Also important to note: I get motion sick very easily.
My dear friend is an aggressive driver, especially when there is no traffic and no guardrails on the side of the road. After a few turns and steep drops at NASCAR pace, I demanded she stop and pull over into a tiny parking lot. The parking lot fit at most 10 vehicles, and we took the last available spot. Pig statues studded the ground by the road, pig decorations adorned the building, and a massive pig sign welcomed us to Bubba’s Barbeque.
Not entirely willing to play food Russian roulette in the middle of the mountains, I cheated and looked up reviews on Yelp. 4/5 stars. We sat down at the counter and were greeted by this lovely display:
If the menu wasn’t delicious enough, the smells coming from the kitchen were mouth-watering. We ordered pork shoulder sandwiches, otherwise known as pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans, and cole slaw. Bubba’s offers two different sauces: a vinegar-based hot sauce, and a thicker, tomato-based barbeque sauce (almost a Kansas City-style). Obviously, I doused my sandwich in hot sauce. The meat was juicy and tender, and I probably would have eaten 10 more if I hadn’t still been reeling from our perilous drive.
It was a great find in the midst of the Ozark Mountains, somewhere between Bentonville and Eureka Springs. Where is a “great food in an unexpected place” that you’ve experienced?