For us, there is a big difference between eating to sustain and dining for pleasure. During our visit to this historic Arkansas destination, we tried to sample as many restaurant choices as we could squeeze into our schedule. As we were eating our way through downtown Fort Smith, we discovered what the locals already know. This city is packed with amazing eateries that serve a variety of cuisines. As foodies, this made our visit sensational, even if it made narrowing down our meal choices more difficult. Let’s see how we did with our selections.
We want to thank Experience Fort Smith for hosting our visit. Rest assured all opinions are our own.
They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but we take a different approach. Our version of breaking our overnight fast is to start with some caffeine. Our short stay meant there were two mornings to sample the local coffee scene. Who would pass up a coffee shop that is actually named after the city where it is found? Fort Smith Coffee Co. is located in the Bakery District. The spacious shop roasts its beans to perfection and offers up some delectable pastry bites, as well. The Artistic Bean is easily spotted while traversing downtown Fort Smith. It was the perfect location for grabbing a cup of go-go juice, before hitting some of the local shops.
Our prearrival research made it obvious that Garrison Avenue is the main drag through downtown Fort Smith. After the 4 1/2 hour drive from Kansas City, we were ready for lunch. Traveling eastward from the Arkansas River, it’s hard to miss Bricktown Brewery. This regional chain has locations in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, and our home state of Kansas. We’ve had the chance to dine in one of their restaurants in the past, so we were curious to see how consistent their menu is in another location. A cold hard cider and a couple of mouth-watering burgers later and we knew they take their business seriously. It was a great way to begin eating our way through downtown Fort Smith.
As is the nature of the restaurant business, places are fated to come and go. As I was in the process of compiling my notes for this article, it came to my attention that PT’s Manor has closed. It is always a little saddening to see this happen, but it is unfortunately a reality of life. Now we are left with only our memories of a wonderful brunch at this delightfully fun bistro. We weren’t sure what to expect when we arrived but were quickly won over as fans. From their artistically designed plates to the opportunity to dine in an old elevator, this place was impressive. We will be interested to see what others thought of the food at this restaurant. In the comments section below, let us know if you have eaten there in the past.
South of the Border
There were instances where eating our way through Fort Smith brought out some international flair. An example of that was our meal at Rolando’s Restaurante, which transported us to a quaint Central American café. The décor inside the eatery reminded us of trips south of the border and we were anxious to see if the food would do the same. Sure enough, the menu is packed full of delectable Latin American dishes that brought the flavors crashing onto our taste buds. The artistic flair on the walls was reflected in the preparation of the meals, as well. Each plate was a masterpiece of edible enjoyment.
If we were going to truly be eating our way through downtown Fort Smith, we wanted to make sure we covered a broad spectrum of dining options. It would have been remiss to leave out a fine dining selection. Fortunately, it was easy to add The Rialto Restaurant to our list, as it was just a couple of blocks from our lodging. If you are looking for an upscale experience, this place is a great option. From the moment we entered, it was a memorable experience. A local musician was providing a background atmosphere as we savored the creative dishes. While the meal is a lavish treat, the atmosphere did not feel pretentious. This is how fine dining should be presented to the masses.
Eats on the Go
Being foodies is easy for us because we enjoy sampling new flavors. Even on our last morning in Fort Smith, we found a way to add more treats into our travels. The local farmers market was in full swing, as we prepared to head home. We stopped by and perused the stalls for some enticing delicacies we could enjoy along our route. Sure enough, we spotted a vendor selling some tempting baked goods. Many reminded us of our visit to Quebec City, so we grabbed a few for the road. Later, we would make a roadside stop and create an impromptu picnic that would tie us over until we returned home.
Eating Our Way Through Downtown Fort Smith
Over the years, we have learned not to take ourselves too seriously. We have expanded this approach to our dining. The course we take for reviewing meals is a bit more relaxed, which allows us to add some fun to our meals. As we were eating our way through downtown Fort Smith, we soaked up the atmosphere of each location. What we discovered was that Fort Smith presents a casual vibe where diners are focused on savoring the moment. This makes travelers feel welcome and it was easy for us to blend in with the locals. That makes this a great destination for food lovers.