Summer in northwest Arkansas runs a very close second to autumn as the best time to spend a day or two in the Ozark Mountain region. Even with intermittent rain showers throughout the day, it was easy to keep our spirits up as AY’s Creative Director, Ashlee Nobel, and I recently put together a list of some of the best things to do and notable places to shop and eat the next time you’re in Washington County.
Photography by Ashlee Nobel
[dropcap]Fueling[/dropcap] up for the day was task No. 1, and Little Bread Company (LBC) on Block Street in Fayetteville was the perfect place to do so. Locals are loyal to the tiny place, which changed ownership last year when Hannah Withers and Ben Gitchel passed the torch to their employee Chloe Reese and former Nomad’s Natural Plate owners, Mitchell Owen and Eric Gallemore.
LBC serves a great selection of breakfast sandwiches, or, for a healthy dose of protein, try a slice of one of their mile-high quiches. Fresh ingredients and generous portions make everything on the menu worth sampling, but we recommend the quiche with basil, mozzarella and tomato, in addition to the delectable Sunny Side sandwich. Veggie options and a kids’ menu are also available. On a nice day, be sure to find a table on the covered patio next to the building.
After breakfast, we went next door to Good Things Boutique, where owner Jessy Lang offers “a sustainable shopping experience.” Lang’s eye for retail display makes shopping a visual treat. She is especially interested in supporting sustainable product lines and local craftsmen in her shop and offers several fair-trade lines as well. It’s a great place to find natural fibers, eco-friendly skin care and handmade jewelry.
Across Block Street, The Handle Bar has carved out a unique niche for itself as the only bar/bike shop combo in the area. Owner Bryon Moudy, a certified bike-fit specialist, saw a need for a gathering place for cycling enthusiasts. The store is a full-service bike shop and provides bike rentals, in case you came to town without one. They serve Onyx Coffee Lab coffee, kombucha tea on tap and two brews from Ozark Beer Company.
A quick walk up the street took us to the Fayetteville Downtown Square, where the historic post office building now houses Country Outfitter’s flagship boutique. Foxtrot, Shindig Paperie and French Quarters Antiques are also worth a stop, but we were headed for a recent addition to the square, The Anchor.
Watching owner Lori Fast chat with her clientele, it became clear that she thoroughly enjoys being a “shop-girl.” Her son-in-law, Brian Bailey, owns The Mustache Goods & Wears just across the square. Evidently, retail and good taste run in the family. Fast promotes handmade goods in her store and speaks of the artisans with evident admiration. She specializes in kitchen, bath, paper goods and gifts, and a large number of the artists featured in the shop are from northwest Arkansas.
We next made a quick stop at Evelyn Hills Shopping Center, one of Fayetteville’s first retail districts. The center is anchored by Ozark Natural Foods, a locally owned and managed co-op store on par with national giant Whole Foods. The Handmade Market is a lovely shop full of unique home goods and gourmet eats, and Uncle Sam’s Outfitters offers gear and clothing that is ideal if you’re headed to the river or a mountain trail. Arkadia Retrocade will take you back to your childhood with its wall-to-wall vintage video games. For $5, you can play any of its more than 180 games without the need for a single quarter or token. It’s a great place for parents and kids alike.
Further north in “uptown” Fayetteville on Joyce Boulevard, you’ll find Garden Living. Owners Jonathan & Chelsea Edwards have built a loyal following in the region via their popular floral shop, PIGMINT, which is located next door. In addition to high-quality garden tools, décor, gifts and paper goods, all with a garden theme, the shop carries several lines of modern patio furniture and hosts regular gardening workshops.
After a full morning of shopping and visiting, we were ready for lunch. Springdale is full of “best-kept secret” spots, but with the completion of the Razorback Regional Greenway, featured in our July issue, and the growing interest in real estate on Emma Avenue, more folks are finding it worth a visit.
We followed the signs to the Springdale Municipal Airport to check out Flaps Down Grill, where locals said the cuisine belies the rather modest surroundings. Owner Bill Adams, a pilot, has created the perfect spot for a quiet meal with front-row seating to watch small planes arrive and depart. They serve homemade coleslaw with a hint of dill or a creamy pasta salad with their delicious sandwiches. The soups, sauces and dressings are all made fresh in-house.
The Hindenburg sandwich – named appropriately – was big enough for two. The Shrimp Po’ Boy was also a plate-filler; it featured a generous pile of perfectly cooked shrimp with a light and crunchy cornmeal batter. The restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Saturday, but offers a dinner special and hosts live music every Wednesday night. Follow them on Facebook to keep up with the weekly specials.
As we ventured on, the rain let up a bit, so we walked along Emma Street and stopped in Gingiber’s new storefront location. Stacie Bloomfield, the illustrator behind the brand, has had a tremendous amount of success with her whimsical line of paper goods and plush items that are perfect for children’s rooms and nurseries. She recently expanded her line with the popular brand Land of Nod and has more collaborations in the works. Her open, light-filled shop is perfectly curated, and it was difficult not to load our bags with one of everything.
Though Emma Street is still developing, there are several other stops we recommend, including Cellar Door Antiques, Big Fish Vinyl and Mix Manor. You’ll also want to take a stroll through the art galleries at the Arts Center of the Ozarks and the gardens and exhibits at Shiloh Museum of Ozark History.
Venturing beyond downtown, we visited Euna Mae’s. Owner Amy Nelson Hannon has filled a little bungalow house to the eaves with an array of carefully curated kitchen and dining goods that will have you tossing all your current cookware. The Emile Henry, Le Creuset and Arden Burleigh brands are all represented, and on Fridays you can purchase whole Fork & Crust pies at the shop. It just doesn’t get any better, does it?