Best Dreams-Do-Come-True News
We’ve got our list of Trader Joe’s nonperishables memorized: salsa verde, some Everything but the Bagel seasoning and all the Joe-Joe’s we can Tetris into the trunk. But soon we’ll be able to add things like mini mochi and a dozen different cheeses we never knew we needed to that list because we won’t have to cart our TJ haul 137 miles down Interstate 40. After what seems like a decade of will-they-won’t-they and plenty of half-crazed pleas from TJ-obsessed locals, the first Arkansan Trader Joe’s will land in Little Rock’s old Toys R Us location … soon. Hopefully, in time for Peppermint Joe-Joe’s.
Best Second-to-None Burger Comeback
At one point, there were 57 Minute Man restaurants—and then just the one. Statewide closures of this burger joint devastated fans, forcing them to trek all the way to the last (minute) man standing in El Dorado. But now that we’ve heard it’s making a comeback, all is made right again. Rumor has it, three new locations in Little Rock and Conway will share DNA with the fast-food chain that first opened its doors back in 1948. You know what this means? No more pilgrimages to El Dorado, and even more orders of the No. 2., a charcoal-grilled hamburger with hickory-smoked sauce that we still can’t forget, even if we wanted to.
Best Coffee to Pair with Your Comic Book Collection
Stan Lee: Creator of Spider-Man, Daredevil, the X-Men and … lover of Arkansas-roasted coffee? It’s true, comic book fans. The late powerhouse mind of Marvel was a regular customer of Onyx Coffee Lab’s online store before he died a year ago next month. So when the Stan Lee Foundation approached the Northwest Arkansas roastery to produce its signature blend, the folks at Onyx were able to comb Lee’s order history to craft a flavor profile worthy of his name. The result is a honey-processed Ethiopian blend that would have even ol’ Web Head’s spider senses tingling … but, like, in a good way.
Best Very, Very Loud Scream for Ice Cream
We’re not saying it’s hot in Arkansas, but we just saw two hobbits climbing Pinnacle Mountain with a golden ring in their hands. They would’ve been happier if they’d been cooling off with some Dairy Queen treats, which residents of the Land of Opportunity can’t seem to get enough of—even in the dead of winter. In January 2019, a new DQ opened in Benton and proceeded to break the DQ world record for the highest sales volume in one hour, as well as the highest sales in one day—smashing every single one of the 7,000 DQ stores’ comparable sales records throughout the company’s 78-year history.
Best Way to Get Your Drafty Drafts
On Aug. 23, the doors in downtown Little Rock opened—and people promptly walked outside, libations in hand. Normally, that might’ve been cause for some alarm, but with the Arkansas-Legislature-and-City-Hall-approved unveiling of a new four-block entertainment district, a key tenet of which allows adults of a certain age the opportunity to imbibe out of doors, under the sun as nature intended, you could say there’s been something of a belt-loosening. Although such an open-door policy stirs some splotchy, long-dormant memories from previous excursions to Bourbon Street, as adults, we are responsible tipplers. Now then: Who’s having Fireball?
Best Real Deal Mocktails
Mocktails have endured a lot of, well, mockery from the world. Then the finger-pointing and laughing stopped. Suddenly, mocktails became cool. In fact, Mocktail Mo, aka Michae Orfanos, a self-professed crusader for alcohol-alternative cocktails, is making the case that there’s never been a better (or more interesting) time to shrug off alcohol in Arkansas. Need proof that mocktails can be every bit as intoxicating as their boozy cousins? Just head on over to her blog (mocktailmo.blog), where Mo documents every great sipper she encounters. From Allsopp & Chapple’s spicy summer concoction to Kemuri’s cucumber basil tonic, we’re letting Mo show us the way.
Best ‘Cue This Side of Texas
It’s not a lunch spot, not a casual-passing-through-type establishment. Heck, as of this writing, it’s technically not even in Arkansas (more on that in a moment). But for our money, despite its two-plus-hour distance from central Arkansas, Naaman’s Championship BBQ in Texarkana, Texas, is just about the closest thing to proper beef brisket—fatty, thick-cut, appropriately smoke-ringed—we’ve found around these parts. But soon, very soon, it’s gonna be getting a little closer—and hopping State Line Drive into Arkansas. Although details on the smokehouse are still hazy, it’s so close, we can nearly taste it.