by Kat Robinson
The Grapevine Restaurant’s been around since 1991, and it seems to be the local dine-in joint. When I went, the place was packed with all sorts of folks. The main room in the back was packed with regulars and a church group; the front room seemed to be full of people like me traveling through the area. While I was looking over the menu I overheard a couple of ladies talking about the hike they were planning to take, and another couple asking about Arkansas Wine Country. I was just about dead center of the restaurant at a little table right between the areas.
The menu took a bit to get through. It was packed with all sorts of tasty looking items — a full section of Mexican items, pasta items, steaks, sandwiches, you name it. It took me a few to decide, but once I saw the Smoked Beef Brisket Dinner ($7.99) I knew what I was having.
I was really in a salad-y mood (it was in the 90s that day) and was grateful for the mixed greens and tomatoes. The tomato didn’t seem like the average hothouse variety. It tasted like a locally grown affair, and I wish I knew for certain. The salad came with lots of crusty croutons and red
Four strips of barbecue-sauce laden brisket strips sat on my plate next to a neat little pile of gravy-topped mashed potatoes. The sauce itself was sweet and a little pungent; the brisket was butter knife tender with a great pull to it. The potatoes surprised me — definitely home-mashed, with little bits of clumpiness to them but plenty of cream to mellow it out. I liked the salty gravy, too, not overdone.
I was grooving to the mellow 50s to 70s soft pop soundtrack pumped in on tinny speakers. For a restaurant created in the early 90s it sure felt it had been around 40 years or more. Its wood-paneled walls also held other great appeals, such as a wide selection of pamphlets and maps to area attractions and a little booth up front featuring all sorts of Arkansas wines — first time I’d seen that anywhere!
You can find The Grapevine Restaurant on Highway 22 just east of the turnoff for the mountain. It’s open Monday through Saturday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For more information, check out the website or call (479) 963-2413.