Arkansas is a fringe state, not solely a part of any one region. It’s a state that’s mostly Southern but also a bit Midwestern and a tad Southwestern. Northwest Arkansas is far different from southeast Arkansas. Northeast Arkansas doesn’t have much in common with southwest Arkansas.
The strongest barbecue area of the state is the Delta region of east Arkansas. The barbecue is pork here (beef has crept from Texas into parts of southwest Arkansas), though the sauces vary from place to place. At Craig’s in DeValls Bluff along U.S. Highway 70, you’ll walk into the ramshackle building and immediately be asked if you want your barbecue mild, medium or hot. Most of the regulars go the medium route. The crowd here is a mixture of locals, hunters from Little Rock and Memphis when duck season is in progress and those who are wise enough to get off Interstate 40 and find their way to DeValls Bluff.
The interview featured above with Robert Craig of Craig's Barbecue was conducted by Rachel Reynolds Luster, our 2010 Guided Intern in oral history. Look for the rest of Rachel's Arkansas barbecue fieldwork to be added to our Southern BBQ Trail in the coming weeks.