So, we were casually checking social media when we came across, what appeared to be, the greatest barbecue expedition ever assembled.
Here's how it went down. Rex Nelson, Denver Peacock, Gabe Holmstrom, Jordan Johnson and Jason Parker set out on a 400-mile journey through the Arkansas Delta. Their mission? Cram down as much barbecue — along with some catfish and tamales because it's catfish and tamales — as humanly possible, all in one day.
This Holy Grail of barbecue journeys through Arkansas had 10 stops in communities including Wilson, Blytheville, Waldenburg, Gregory and Bald Knob, and secured a sacred place for these five men in the history of Arkansas foodies.
It all started at 8 a.m. on Good Friday in the parking lot of the Clinton Presidential Center. They left Little Rock as mere mortals, but returned as legends of Arkansas barbecue, and probably a few pounds heavier.
We've got a quick recap of the trip below. If you want even more on this voyage, which included stops at non-food spots in Arkansas, we highly suggest you check out Rex Nelson's Southern Fried blog. Look for the posts "The great Arkansas Delta food tour" and "Arkansas Delta food tour: Part Two."
The trip even had its own hashtag, #ARBBQTour. Check it out.
Wilson Café in Wilson, Mississippi County
The trip started with a stop at Wilson Café in the small, south Mississippi County community of Wilson for the group to enjoy some good catfish. By the looks of this photo, it was better than good.
The Hog Pen, just south of Osceola, Mississippi County
The barbecue portion of the trip was supposed to begin in Blytheville, but the guys could not pass up this dive. Nelson says the food was "quite tasty," so we're guessing they didn't regret the stop.
The Blytheville Experience, Mississippi County
Here's where the trip hit its sweet spot. The guys made FIVE stops in "the barbecue capital of Arkansas," as Nelson lovingly refers to it. The Dixie Pig, the Kream Kastle, Penn's, the Razorback Cookers carryout trailer and "the trailer in the parking lot of the Hays store." Although the guys are pretty sure that isn't it's official name, that is what it's called by the locals. The guys ate at Dixie Pig, then stopped at the other four eateries, got the orders to go, and enjoyed the food out by the Mississippi River.
Here are some of the photos from the stops in Blytheville.
Woody's in Waldenburg, Poinsett County
Here, at the intersection of Arkansas 14 and U.S. 49, which Nelson says is one of the top food intersections in Arkansas, the guys sat down, once again, for another good ol' Natural State barbecue sandwich. The food came from the mayor of Waldenburg, William "Woody" Wood, and his wife, Cecelia.
Tamale Factory in Gregory, Woodruff County
This stop had multiple purposes. Yes, the food — which included tamales, fried shrimp and boiled shrimp — but also to visit with owner George Eldridge, who is also the owner of Doe's Eat Place in Little Rock. Nelson jokes there was no room left for one of Eldridge's steaks at this point of the voyage.
Bulldog Restaurant in Bald Knob, White County
What's a good food-trip without stopping for dessert? The guys stopped at the Bulldog Restaurant to enjoy some strawberry shortcake, only served in the spring, to finish off the trip. Nelson notes cars were lined up onto the highway to get some of the shortcake.
To Rex, Denver, Gabe, Jordan and Jason, we here at Soirée would like to say, job well done, sirs. And that, kids, is how the greatest barbecue expedition in Arkansas history unfolded.