Arkansas is known for its unique cuisine, a reflection of its rich and diverse cultural heritage. The Arkansas Food Hall of Fame was created by the Division of Arkansas Heritage to celebrate and honor the state’s vibrant culinary traditions by recognizing the restaurants, chefs, food-themed events and food traditions that have contributed to its fantastic flavors.


“Our 2023 inductees represent some of the best food in Arkansas,” said Mike Mills, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. “Food tells the story of Arkansas’ culinary heritage and it’s an honor to celebrate the people, places and events that serve this story to Arkansas residents and visitors alike.”


The best of the best have been selected across five distinct categories. Without further ado, it’s time to unveil this year’s inductees and dish up some of the foodie favorites in Arkansas.

Gone But Not Forgotten

“This category honors the collective culinary legacy of a once-and-always influential Arkansas restaurant that has since ceased operations.”


food hall of fame

Mike Mills with Chef Adolf Thum of Bohemia Restaurant

Bohemia Restaurant

1962 – 2007 | Hot Springs


Established in 1962 in Hot Springs, this beloved spot served authentic German and Czech cuisine in an elegant atmosphere until 2007. The nominations for this establishment were heartfelt votes full of family memories and flavorful moments. 


With nearly 50 years in business, The Bohemia made the complex cuisine of Germany and Europe accessible to Arkansans. According to one submission, “Though closed for nearly 14 years, Mr. and Mrs. Thum brought a lasting legacy to their customers and to Hot Springs. [It] lives on in the hearts and taste buds of many, and therefore is worthy of this recognition of  ‘Gone But Not Forgotten.’ ” 


Past Winners

2022, Coy’s Steak House

2021, Fisher’s Steak House

2020, Shadden’s BBQ

2019, Klappenbach Bakery

2018, Cotham’s Mercantile



“This tasty award is truly in the hands of Arkansans. Individuals submit their favorite Arkansas restaurant or food truck, and the people determine the winner. To be eligible, nominees must be Arkansas-owned and operated and have been in business for at least one year.”


food hall of fame

Mike Mills with John Brandenberger of the Community Bakery of Little Rock

Community Bakery of Little Rock

Central Arkansas


Serving the “Sweet Life” to Arkansans for nearly 75 years, this bakery has been serving great food, baked goods and coffee to generations. The warm and welcoming environment builds a safe place to come and enjoy great flavors with friends, old and new. Oh, and we can’t forget the chewy deliciousness of their famous iced sugar cookies!


One nominator touted it as a “friendly, welcoming small business that consistently offers great service, great food.” Another pointed out how this business and its owners care for the community, noting how the “focus is serving the surrounding neighborhood, families and children throughout the city.”


Past Winners

2022, La Casa de Mi Abuelita

2021, The Bistro Bar & Grill

2020, The Ohio Club

2019, Honey Pies Gourmet Bakery & Cafe

2018, JJ’s Lakeside Cafe

2017, Grotto Woodfired Grill and Wine Cave


Proprietor of the Year


“This award honors a chef, cook and/or restaurant owner in Arkansas who has made significant achievements in the food industry. To be eligible, the candidate’s restaurant must be owned in Arkansas and have been in operation in the state for at least one year.”


food hall of fame

Mike Mills with Chef Jamie McAfee of Pine Bluff Country Club

Jamie McAfee

Pine Bluff Country Club, Pine Bluff


As the Pine Bluff Country Club general manager, executive chef and food and beverage director, Jamie McAfee does it all. Celebrating more than 45 years in the culinary industry, Chef McAfee has dedicated his craft to the country club for 20 years. One nominator kept it simple: “If anyone deserves this (award), Chef Jamie does.” Other nominators called him “Arkansas’ sweetheart” when referencing not only his memorable meals but also his service as a mentor and teacher to many. 


McAfee’s leadership in the area is well-known; it is his mission to serve quality food with great flavor that elevates the profile of Arkansas’ culinary industry. Going above and beyond for his employees, customers and students, Chef McAfee is our 2023 Proprietor of the Year.


Food-Themed Event


“This award was developed to honor one of the many community food-themed events or festivals that attract tourists and neighbors alike, serving up as much fun and hospitality as they do their signature foods. To be eligible, the event or festival must be held annually in Arkansas and must have been in existence for five or more years.”


Mike Mills with Bonnie Keith of Magnolia Blossom Festival and World Championship Steak Cook-Off

Magnolia Blossom Festival and World Championship Steak Cook-Off



Magnolia’s signature event takes the “steak” for our food-themed event category in 2023. This Columbia County staple started as a Sidewalk Art Show in 1950 and has become a delectable destination since its reimagination in 1989. The festival draws more than 5,000 people and grill masters come from across the country to participate. Thousands of juicy steaks are served off of some pretty spectacular “grill rigs” at this true community event. 


Bonnie Keith, festival director and executive director of Magnolia-Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, had this to say about the event: “Having the opportunity to plan this festival is one of the biggest highlights of my life. To see families carry on this tradition that I hold so dear is such a rewarding feeling.”


Food Hall of Fame

“Eligible restaurants must be owned and operated in Arkansas and have been in business for at least 25 years; national chain restaurants are not eligible.”


Mike Mills with Jennifer Muckelberg and Julie Roberts of the Bulldog Restaurant

Bulldog Restaurant


Whether you’re a local to the area or just passing through, a mention of the Bulldog is likely to make your mouth water. This popular eatery in Bald Knob is probably best known for its strawberry shortcake, which is offered seasonally and draws customers from near and far. Its humble atmosphere and quick service keep guests coming back for the juicy burgers, barbecue and variety of desserts. Family-owned and operated, it’s open every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.


food hall of fame

Mike Mills with Suzanne and Jeff Wallace of Kream Kastle

Kream Kastle


A first-generation American born to Lebanese and Syrian immigrants, Steven Johns started the business in July 1952 as a hot dog stand. The menu began to expand and so did the business. Now a full-fledged drive-in run by Johns’ family, the Kream Kastle remains a Blytheville gathering place. One nominator shared that the spot became a popular meeting place for notable local figures, as well as state political and business influentials, highlighting its position as a local hot spot. 


Mike Mills with Jerri and Russ Todd of Ozark Café

Ozark Café


One of the oldest restaurants in the state with roots back to 1909, this Newton County gem is known for its warmth and commitment to using locally sourced ingredients. One fan raved about the food and the staff saying, “Never mind that the food is great, the whole thing was a good experience.”  The welcoming spot draws guests from all over and has truly become a destination for those seeking a hearty breakfast, a delicious lunch or a cozy dinner. 


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