EATS & DRINKS
By Case Dighero | Photos by Meredith Mashburn
1332 N. Leverett Ave., Fayetteville | (479) 332-0448 | www.cityparkfayetteville.com
Photo courtesy of City Park
As the cradle of mountain biking in this part of the country, Northwest Arkansas doesn’t have a shortage of places to roll into after a long, demanding ride. But the newest must-see destination may be the most impressive yet, and you certainly don’t need to arrive on two wheels to enjoy all its virtues. City Park opened during summer, and despite the searing temperatures, it has become Fayetteville’s latest, greatest local hangout spot. The folks behind Feed and Folly, another one of my favorite eateries in town, have created an environment that boasts equal parts open-air casual atmosphere and stick-to-your-ribs quality grub.
The idea and inspiration behind City Park is convenience and community — a central location where families and friends can gather and experience the essence of one of the truly great cities of the southern United States. The property is connected to the Razorback Greenway and Scull Creek, showcasing the most authentic experience of living and working in an urban space while still being connected to nature — a place that is undeniably Fayetteville.
Smash Burger and Black Bean Burger
Like most lovers of food, I’m a burger guy, and the City Park Smash Burger is as good as any in this part of the country. Word has already gotten out, and it’s not uncommon to see people from all walks of life hunched over brown paper boats of perfectly seared beef oozing with melty cheese, sauce and grilled onions wobbling between two sweet buns. It’s my latest food crush, forcing me to stop by with friends (or alone) regardless of whether I’m traveling on two or four wheels.
Loaded Pots, Garden Taco, Chicken Al Pastor, Charro Beans
The order system is a breeze. Each individual orders from their smartphone using the QR code at the table or any number of the lounge seating areas, a great scheme to help mitigate arguing over who picks up the tab when you’re with curmudgeonly friends. The food comes quickly, so be sure to order your drink in tandem from either of the two bars that feature a slew of draft beer, salty margs, and my patio go-to of Boxley vodka swirled with cranberry and fresh lime. It’s all casual, but the atmosphere is ideal for these brilliantly cool Ozark evenings.
The menu certainly doesn’t stop with burgers; there’s also a ton of great pub fare that includes: crunchy Fried Curds ($7.99) made with Ellsworth cheese nestled with cilantro ranch dressing; delectable Street Corn ($6.99), a thick dip of cut corn mixed with jalapeños, queso and fresh cilantro served with tortilla chips, and my favorite from the “Snacks” section, Loaded Pots ($7.99), featuring crispy fried tater tots smothered in poblano queso, pico de gallo, sour cream and orange salsa. It’s a thing of junk food beauty, and although it’s served with a fork, I’ve devoured it with my fingers after a late night on more than one, two, three occasions.
Still, the Smash Burgers (starting at $5.99) are the best thing on the menu, four-ounce patties that can be ordered as either a single or double with or without cheese and stratified with pickles, lettuce and City Sauce that brilliantly toes the line between sweet and tangy. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the add-ons of grilled onions, jalapeños and bacon — all of which should be included in your order with much vigor and excitement. Occasionally, I also crave a good black bean burger, and City Park makes one that is as fulfilling and delicious as any I’ve had in recent memory, especially when served next to a side of soupy charro beans.
And for those of us with a desire for something sweet after a long ride, or a long day, check out the Churros ($7.99), three wavy pastries filled with cream and fried to crunchy perfection, then topped with fresh strawberries, ice cream and chocolate sauce.
Every small city should have an important space for locals and visitors alike to gather and experience the cross section of nature and local community. Lucky for us, Fayetteville has City Park.