This week I’m going to present you with another installment of The Arkansas Travelers, an account of journeys around the state by Yours Truly and my cousin Marcus from Little Rock. Today’s travels take us to Southwest Arkansas, to Lafayette and Columbia County.
We’ll start with the westmost spot, Burge’s Hickory Smoked Turkeys and Hams in Lewisville. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Lewisville, Faithful Reader, but to be quite honest there isn’t a whole lot going on there. It’s a sleepy little place from what I’ve seen. But if you happen to be there and you happen to be hungry, Burge’s happens to be quite good.
If it’s your first time, go with what the place is named for and get yourself a smoked turkey sandwich or a smoked ham sandwich. Or get a sandwich with both. Go big or go home, right? You’ll walk up to the window outside where one of the youth of Lewisville will be happy to take your order, then you go inside and wait and they’ll bring it to you. The sandwiches are quite enormous and you definitely won’t leave hungry. If you don’t want to take my advice, they’ve got decent BBQ along with burgers and catfish.
For dessert, head east to Stamps and go to Jimmy’s. If you’re coming from Lewisville it will be on your right near the western edge of town. The main reason to go to Jimmy’s is a Wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Stamps. If you’ve had a Sonic Blast or a Blizzard from Dairy Queen, know that a Wizard from Jimmy’s is better still. It’s the same principle, soft serve ice cream with a bunch of candy in it. But the folk at Jimmy’s are just remarkably generous with their candy, even moreso than DQ and way moreso than Sonic. Sonic is positively miserly with it by comparison. You can get Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (my favorite), Snickers, M&M’s, Heath, Oreos, and (if I’m remembering right) Butterfinger. Jimmy’s is a drive-up place, so you’ll have to have your Wizard in the car. Get some napkins. You’ll need’em.
Marcus and I went over to Lafayette County and did both of these things on a dismal, rainy day in March 2017, and it was definitely worth the trip.
Later on in the year, we went over to Magnolia on a Saturday when the weather was much more agreeable and made a stop at the Magnolia Bake Shop. It’s on the square right behind the courthouse. You can get cookies, donuts of most every species, cupcakes, and all manner of other things that excite joy in children and well-adjusted adults alike. The cookies are delectable. Pick yourself up a dozen.
If your sweet tooth is not yet satisfied, go back around the other side of the courthouse and head back towards El Dorado. You will see Backyard BBQ on your right. They serve the biggest slabs of pie there that I’ve ever seen. Seriously, they’re huge. The chocolate and coconut cream pies are particularly good.
If you need to work off some calories after all this, go for a hike at Logoly State Park just north of Magnolia. The trails are easy and make for a leisurely hike in the woods. I’ve been several times and I’m thinking of going again this weekend to get another hike in.
Before I continue, there’s a story y’all need to hear.
When I was in undergrad at Louisiana Tech, I had a couple of buddies from El Dorado who went to school over at SAU. They shared a house together and on occasion I went and stayed with them. On one such occasion one of my friends, we’ll call him Will, invited me to go with him to a Sunday night service at the Baptist church near campus that he attended. I was treated to a sermon that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.
The pastor looked maybe just on the younger side of 102 and was really trying to bring the hellfire and brimstone that night. The chief complaint of his sermon was “all these people who are out there on the square, a’cussin’ and a’hollerin’ and a’drinkin’ and rarin’ around!”
I’ve been a lot of places, Faithful Reader, and I’ve seen my share of people a’cussin’ and a’hollerin’ and a’drinkin’, but none of that was seen on the courthouse square in Magnolia, Arkansas. Even since the Corner Clubhouse opened up there and started serving cocktails all the way until 9 p.m.(!), I haven’t seen any of that. And while I’m not exactly sure what rarin’ around is, I’m pretty sure there hasn’t been any of that on the square in Magnolia either.
But if there is a place in Magnolia where one might attempt to rare around (just a little), it’s Mule Kick over by the university. Their pizza is the best around, and they have good coffee from what I hear - even though I haven’t tried it yet. You can also go there for a’drinkin’ since they have cocktails and craft beers from all over the country, including a decent selection of Arkansas beers. Marcus hasn’t been there yet, but we’ll change that.
I have heard a persistent rumor about town that Mule Kick is coming here to El Dorado and will set up shop where the Griffin used to be. It’s to be called “Mule Kick at M.A.D., apparently.” I certainly hope that’s true. I’d love to have Mule Kick here too, and it’d a shame for the folks at Murphy to have spent all that cash on renovations for that building just to have it sit empty. If the idea is to keep amping up downtown El Dorado, Mule Kick at M.A.D. would be a great next step.
Confound it, now I want a Wizard. This heat isn’t helping.
See ya next week, Faithful Reader. Don’t rare around too much.
Caleb Baumgardner is a local attorney. He can be reached at [email protected]