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Eating good food and telling folks about it … we tried to think of a better hobby for two Southern boys who enjoy food and the process that goes into making things delicious, but we got hungry before we could come up with anything and decided to go with it.

Welcome to “Boomtown Eats!”

We are honored with the opportunity to offer up our thoughts on the food scene here in South Arkansas, spread the word about some of our region’s best places to chow down, and hopefully connect all you hungry folks out there with a delicious spot you may not have yet discovered!

By way of introduction, from birth until this day Jared Smith has been a patron of restaurants. No matter the size, type of food served, or where the restaurant may be located, he has loved the entire experience. From an early age, he has been a local farmer, selling his produce in farmers markets far and wide. Jared has always enjoyed meeting people who share his love of preparing and consuming, sometimes in vastly large proportions, various types of food. Jared currently owns a small construction business and serves in a few local churches as a part-time minister.

From a young age, Philip Shackelford enjoyed gardening and small-scale farming with his family in Northeast Mississippi, and spent many a day in the kitchen learning from the best culinary instructors (his mother and grandmothers), discovering his very own love of food and cooking. After a culinary knife skills class and cooking projects in high school, Philip still loves creating food improvisations in the kitchen and learning and talking about food. He currently serves as library director at South Arkansas Community College and as a member of the Advisory Committee for the El Dorado Farmer’s Market at the Murphy Arts District.

For our very first food profile, we decided to visit Elm Street Bakery & Rascals, located at 320 W. Main in El Dorado. This family owned establishment is going on its second year in this new location, after a recent move from Elm Street on the Square downtown. The decision to move came from the plan to combine Elm Street Bakery and Rascal’s, a favorite pub previously located on Jefferson Street. Mother-daughter team Shelli and Morgan Cross now run “E&R” as a relaxed, family-style eatery - a friendly mix of bakery, downtown café and local pub.

From the time you enter the door, there is a theme of rustic history and a love for the Arkansas Razorbacks presented. With different older photographs of El Dorado hanging on the walls, one can get a sense of some of the history of our great town while glancing across the room. There are several Razorback decorated pieces placed throughout the restaurant which makes many Arkansans feel right at home.

Jared chose the Razorbacon burger topped with all the trimmings and potato wedges as the side. The Razorbacon is a local favorite. It is a hefty burger topped with applewood smoked bacon and delicious cheddar cheese. The burger was juicy with the perfect amount of melt in your mouth beef mixed with the small hinting of the applewood bacon to conclude the taste. The Razorbacon was presented well with fresh vegetables topped off with a delicious warm bun. The potato wedges rival any that you can find locally or out of town. The wedges were crisp and flavorful leaving nothing left to be desired. From the presentation, to the flavor, to the delicious potato wedges, the Razorbacon dish lives up to its name and succeeded in surpassing his expectations.

Razorbacon Burger with a side of potato wedges. Contributed photo
Razorbacon Burger with a side of potato wedges. Contributed photo

As a card carrying member of the El Dorado Veggie Club, Philip went for the plant-based option and ordered the “Vegan,” a warm veggie sandwich usually served on a croissant. Philip opted for dry toasted sourdough and asked for extra vegetables. Bell pepper, cucumber, tomato, broccoli, onion, mushrooms, pepperchinis, carrots and olives came layered inside the crunchy bread, providing a nice blend of fresh crunch, hearty warmth and juiciness from the tomato. The sandwich was overshadowed, however, by the delicious side order of potato wedges - lightly battered and perfectly fried with a crispy outside and warm, tender inside. Lightly seasoned with herbs, these potatoes elevated the experience to another, very memorable level. Philip has already been back multiple times just to get a potato wedges fix.

The Vegan sandwich and potato wedges. Contributed photo
The Vegan sandwich and potato wedges. Contributed photo

All told, E&R is an upbeat and handy spot to grab a weekday lunch and a friendly place to gather with family and friends. Ask about the local favorites and check out the bakery, with dozens of delicious desserts made fresh by the E&R team. Whether you are new to town or a lifelong El Dorado native, E&R stands as a solid choice with plenty of local charm. Join us next month for another spotlight as we tour the special eateries of South Arkansas!

E&R Local Favorites, reported by E&R staff

Jalapeño Turkey Club

Avocado Turkey Club

Razorbacon Burger

Least Expensive Item: Side Salad, $4.50

Most Expensive Item: Crabcakes, $13

Philip Shackelford and Jared Smith have been eating for their entire lives. Questions or suggestions can be sent to boomtowneatsarticle@gmail.com.

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