This reviewer can't think of a culinary option I approach with more anticipation than a plate of good barbecue. So it was a happy sight, the discovery of the newest outlet of the Russellville-based Fat Daddy's Bar-B-Que, at the corner of Court and Oak streets in Conway's Old Town district. Located in a former Napa Auto Parts store, Fat Daddy's has a comfortable dining room with an open layout of wooden tables ringed with several television monitors. There are no booths, but a full bar with high-top tables, separated from the dining room, provides a more casual dining experience. Appetizer options include fried chicken wings ($8.99), fried pickles ($6.99), onion rings ($6.99), BBQ nachos ($7.99), a smoked quesadilla ($7.99) and several other standards. Not wanting to fill up before the main event, however, we decided to dive straight into the good stuff. We chose the Fat Daddy pulled pork sandwich ($7.99), the mama bear of three size options, midway between the quarter-pound Fat Boy sandwich and the half-pound Grand Pappy. Sauces also come in three varieties, in squeeze bottles labeled "sweet," "hot" and "mixed — sweet and heat." I found a little of the hot satisfied my love of spice with a nice, tangy taste of vinegar. The mixed, however, was more than enough tang for most, with a bit more smoky taste. Each sandwich came with a choice of two sides; we went for the hand-breaded onion rings and sauteed vegetables. The Fat Daddy came piled high with smoky, but tender, pulled pork that could have been shredded a bit finer. The large chunks quickly became a knife and fork operation. The onion rings were crisp, with the batter — lightly spiced and with a bit of a pepper zing — clinging nicely to the ring. We enjoyed the vegetables, an unexpected option for a barbecue place. They were sauteed in butter and well seasoned. We give both sides high marks.
On our next trip to Fat Daddy's, we opted for a half rack of the St. Louis-style ribs ($9.99), a barbecued baked potato and a medium beef brisket sandwich ($6.99). The brisket sandwich was a winner, the meat tender and juicy, with a hint of smoke. Note: It seemed a bit smaller than the medium pulled pork sandwich from our previous visit. Again, a little finer chopping would help on the brisket. The BBQ spud was huge, heavier than a softball and filled with butter, sour cream, chives and more of that flavorful brisket. The potato was cooked well, so that it broke apart nicely. Though not listed as an entree, it could easily satisfy even a hearty appetite. The brisket was slightly drier than our companion would have liked, but with the addition of a little sauce she proclaimed it quite good.
The St. Louis ribs were the real winner of our second trip. Smoked with a dry rub that offered a wonderful flavor, the very tender ribs had a crisp seal and peeled easily from the bone. The rub was spicy, but not overpowering. Overall, we found that Fat Daddy's offers a nice "won't break the bank" option to the lengthy list of barbecue restaurants in Conway. It offers several pricier options we might try when our wallet is a little thicker — including center cut Omaha steaks and wine by the bottle or glass or local Flyway and Diamond Bear beers, which are available in addition to the usual beer options. If you've got your mouth set for good barbecue and not a lot of cash in your wallet, Fat Daddy's your man.
Fat Daddy's Bar-B-Que
1004 W. Oak St.
Daily specials include hamburgers (Monday), barbecued burritos (Tuesday and Thursday), all you can eat ribs (Tuesday dinner), barbecued flatbread (Friday) and St. Louis-style ribs (Saturday).
10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Beer and wine, credit cards accepted