Siloam Springs

Restaurant Review – Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Siloam Springs, AR

Nobody, and I mean nobody, can host a barbecue like a Southerner. They’re so good at it, that anytime one of us Yankees says we’re having one, we debase the term. I was ecstatic when I came across Dickey’s Barbecue Pit during my sojourn to Northwest Arkansas. Their culinary skills did Dixie proud.

My group had been flying all day. Most of us hadn’t eaten anything in at least nine hours. When we rolled into Dickey’s we couldn’t have found a more perfect place at the most opportune time.

The staff took courtesy to a whole new level. We arrived within an hour of closing. However, they were so attentive and friendly that I felt like they genuinely loved their customers. By my estimate, the two team members on shift prepared meals for six people in close to ten minutes.

There’s only one word to describe my meal: outstanding. Dickey’s offered a plethora of sandwiches, platters and salads. They made my choice pretty difficult. Since I felt so hungry I treated myself to the Three Meat Plate. Dickey’s presented eight different options that would appeal to just about any carnivore. The choices included Pulled Pork, Beef Brisket, Barbecue Honey Ham, Spicy Cheddar Sausage, Polish Sausage, Pork Ribs, Turkey Breast, and Chicken. I dined on the Turkey, Pork Ribs and Spicy Cheddar Sausage. I’d never tried anything like the latter before. The chef came up with a unique twist on it. The best part: it tasted fantastic! All of the meats did.

A number of people in my group raved about the brisket. It received the most positive reviews. I had the chance to try it and concurred.

My platter came with two sides. Dickey’s offered twelve different ones, so once again I struggled with the selection. Who would have thought that being a food critic could entail such hard decision making on occasion? After evaluating the menu, I complimented my meal with the Caesar Salad and the Barbecue Beans. Like the sausage, the latter possessed a zesty flavor, but not so hot that I couldn’t enjoy the meal. The preparers deserve great credit for getting the seasoning just right.

And the best part: this dinner cost only $11.50! People who read my column know that I dine out pretty regularly. Dickey’s made my shortlist of establishments offering the best value for the price.

I drank an iced tea with my meal. It came with a “Big Yellow Cup” that customers may keep as a souvenir. That’s a pretty good perk for $2.25.

As much as I enjoyed this dining experience, Dickey’s offered even more. On the evening I ate there, they provided FREE ice cream for consumers. You read that right. In addition to the outstanding value I got for my dinner, they furnished a gratis desert. This place took Southern hospitality to a whole new level!

Whenever I review a restaurant I make every effort to be balanced. With that acknowledgement, I can’t offer Dickey’s any constructive feedback for improvement. On the issues of price, service and quality, they turned in a superlative performance. Even while writing this I could taste the barbecue sauce. Is opening a franchise in the Philadelphia area out of the question?

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Restaurant Review – La Huerta Mexican Restaurant in Siloam Springs, AR

The food makes any sojourn south of the Mason-Dixon Line well worth-while. During a recent business trip to Arkansas, I had the pleasure of sampling some Mexican food prepared there. What an experience!

For those journeying through Northwest Arkansas, La Huerta is conveniently located off of Route 412. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it’s very tough to locate from the road. The building’s plain white exterior makes it very easy to miss. When I first saw it, I mistook the place for a hotel. It’s located in a small strip mall, as well. Some of the people in my group had dined there before. They almost drive past it.

The interior décor didn’t impress me. Keep in mind that I’m color blind, have absolutely no artistic ability and was very hungry when I walked in the door. The place seemed a bit cluttered. The many customers in the building had something to do with shaping my perception, though. I also didn’t care for the table design. I’m sympathetic that restaurants need to sell advertising space to add additional cash flow. Typically, they put local business ads on placemats. La Huerta sells space on its tables to advertisers. I have to admit: staring at an ad for plumbing supplies didn’t exactly help whet my appetite.

I applaud the gregarious nature of our server. The guy was a born salesman. He informed our group that many people call La Huerta’s sweet tea, “the best in the area.” I’m a big tea drinker, so I had to try. I have to give the guy credit: I had my share of sweet tea during my week in Arkansas, and I would call La Huerta’s the epitome of Northwest Arkansas brew.

In lieu of putting out bread for customers, La Huerta, being a Mexican food establishment, gave us tortilla chips. We (meaning predominantly I) ate so many that our server kept re-filling the bowl. I’ve never been a big tortilla chip fan: until now. These were the best I ever had. They weren’t too heavy or too light. The preparer added just the right amount of corn flavor. They came with the traditional dipping sauce as well as a cheesier one. I’m old-fashioned, so I preferred the standard sauce, although the other tasted just fine. The flavor and texture reminded me of eating a pizza.

For dinner I tried the Enchiladas Razorback. In essence, it was an enchilada that substituted seafood for meat or beans. It had a distinct taste that I enjoyed. The more I ate, the more I noticed just how salty the meal, though. I didn’t mind so much at the beginning, but about half-way through it became very perceptible. Someone else in my group commented about the abundance of salt in her dinner. I wondered if they made the tea so sweet to balance out the brackish meal. While I would dine at La Huerta again, I’d suggest the chef go a little easier on the salt next time.

I received fantastic value for my money. They served my entree on a huge plate that I couldn’t see under all the food. And the part I really liked: my final bill came to a grand total of $11.39. Coming from the Philadelphia area, that’s one phenomenal deal.

I would describe their service as without peer. My group arrived just after 5:30 PM. The place started to fill-up with the dinner crowd. They still sat our group of seven people right away. I couldn’t believe how quickly they delivered our dinners. While I wasn’t watching the clock, I’d estimate between the time we ordered and the time they served, it must have been about ten minutes. That’s a remarkable accomplishment. A large group walked in unexpectedly. They still managed to serve us that fast. That’s an outstanding accomplishment.

The next time I’m in the Northwest Arkansas region I look forward to sampling some of the other dishes La Huerta has to offer. The service and quality of the meal made dinner well worthwhile. They pulled this off without leaving my wallet in a world of huerta.