Eat, Stay, Discoverwords: Kat Robinson
images: Kat Robinson and Grav Weldon
Between the furthest reaches of Bayou Bartholomew, the longest bayou in the world – and the wide expanse of the Mississippi River along the eastern border of Arkansas – lies the Lower Delta, a rural area rich in cultural and historical experiences. Here are some great places to eat, stay, and discover along the southern portion of U.S. Highway 65 in Arkansas.
Rhoda’s Famous Hot Tamales
Rhoda Adams got her start in the early 1970s making pies in Lake Village. After the suggestion by a frequent pie buyer, she and her family started making and tying tamales, which they’d steam and sell throughout the community. Today, you might find Rhoda driving around town, pulling into parking lots and RV parks to sell those tamales, two dozen packed inside a coffee can. If you want to make sure you get your fill, head to Rhoda’s Famous Hot Tamales on St. Mary’s Street. There you’ll also find sweet potato, pecan and meringue pies, along with daily lunch specials and some of the best fried chicken in southern Arkansas. Just don’t wait for dinner – Rhoda’s closes up by 2 p.m.
714 St. Mary’s Street, Lake Village
R.A. Pickens & Son Commissary
Some folks thought Laurie Black was out of her mind when she decided to open a restaurant inside the 100+-year-old R.A. Pickens and Son Commissary south of Dumas. But the local lunch crowd proves she was onto something. Known for fried pork chops, meatloaf and a unique squash dressing, Pickens Commissary offers daily lunch specials cooked just like they’d be at home – served up hot to your table. While you’re there, check out the last cotton bale sold at the facility, memorabilia from the community, and a Delta gift shop.
122 Pickens Road , Pickens
David and Suzie Powell spent a couple of years after retirement traveling from place to place by RV. When they grew tired of that, they decided to head back to their hometown of McGehee and open up a barbecue joint. Their eclectic tastes and nostalgic collection of restaurant items have been put to good use in decorating Hoot’s BBQ (The restaurant gets its name from the high school mascot, the McGehee Owl.) with recycled and reclaimed décor from dozens of different locations. The barbecue is also divine – with great pulled pork, chopped beef, burgers and some of the best onion rings in the region.
2008 US 65 , McGehee
Lake Chicot State Park
Lake Chicot State Park features one and two bedroom cabins that face out onto Lake Chicot, the largest oxbow lake in North America. Each cabin sports a fireplace, full kitchen and bath, dining area and living room, along with one or two bedrooms. The park will supply you with firewood in the colder months; when it’s warmer, head over to the pool. Fishing along Lake Chicot is good any time of year, with bluegill, channel catfish, crappie and largemouth bass as the main catches.
2542 Highway 257, Lake Village
Delta Resort & Spa
The Delta Resort and Spa near McGehee is an escape designed for outdoor enthusiasts who want a chance to go Olympic track shooting, to shoot skeet or just relax in the Arkansas Delta. Accommodations include two hotels and a lodge – along with a spa, restaurant and conference center. During the fall and winter months, head down and join the duck hunting club.
8624 Bucksducks Road, Tillar
Lighthouse Inn on the Lake
This classic motor-court style hotel offers rooms with and without kitchenettes along with private cottages. The reasonably priced accommodations come with access to a pool, marina and bait shop, coffee shop and a landing right on Lake Chicot. Onsite dining with live entertainment on weekend nights rounds out the package.
4403 US 82, Lake Village
This nineteenth century home is the only antebellum plantation on the Mississippi River in Arkansas. Built in 1859, the yellow-washed home has been painstakingly restored by Arkansas State University and now houses items original to the property. An interpretive program talks about the plantation’s history and that of the family that lived there, as well as the tenant farmers who once plowed the land.
601 Highway 142, Lake Village
Paul Michael Company
Paul Michael’s eclectic tastes in home décor have become legendary – and today his shop is frequented by no less than famed television show host P. Allen Smith. Inside the series of warehouse-sized rooms in Lake Village, you’ll find everything from sofas to sideboards, chandeliers to Christmas decorations and every sort of knickknack that will make your home the envy of the neighborhood.
3696 US 65/82 South, Lake Village
Miller’s Mud Mill
Gail Miller’s art is now recognized by leaders all over the nation; her pottery is lauded by many, including former president Bill Clinton. Her bright colors and free-flowing shapes have become iconic representations of Delta art from Delta mud. Today, you can visit her in her Dumas shop and buy your own collectables.
862 US 65 South (in the Brookhaven Shopping Center), Dumas