Small-town southern charm, coupled with big city amenities, Bentonville, Arkansas will be your new favorite culinary destination! Incredible food and unique restaurants, Southern farm-to-table experiences, tied seamlessly with world-class art and culture, are just a few reasons you need to visit Bentonville, Arkansas!
This post was created in partnership with Acorn. Photos and opinions are 100% my own.
5 Reasons Every Foodie Needs to Visit Bentonville, Arkansas
I’ll be honest – when I was first approached to visit Bentonville, Arkansas, I didn’t immediately associate it as being a food and culinary destination. Boy, was I wrong! In just a few days, I was able to experience more unique restaurants, farm-to-table dishes, and tastes and flavors that I would have ever imagined!
Not only does Bentonville offer some incredible restaurants, it seamlessly ties the dining experience together with art, culture and the nature of the community. It binds together everyone from Executive Chefs, art patrons, families, visitors, and everyone in between to create not only a love of food, but a desire for greater community.
I’m going to take you through my visit and give you 5 reasons why you need to visit Bentonville, Arkansas as well!
Reason 1 to Visit Bentonville, Arkansas: Executive Chefs that want to make a difference
One of the first restaurants I visited was Preacher’s Son, named after it’s Executive Chef, Matt Cooper. The restaurant resides in a beautifully restored church, that has incredible stained-glass windows, everywhere the eye can see. Not to be outdone by the restaurant itself, the food was nothing short of amazing! I had the Carrot and Fig Salad with Grilled Chicken, that might have been one of my favorite meals of the trip. It was dressed with a mint and cumin dressing that was unexpected but paired perfectly for the dish.
Executive Chef Matt Cooper said something that resonated with me. “Food is a universal truth. Everyone needs it to survive. It binds us and brings us closer.” Cooper also works in a coalition of local chefs who work together with local farmers. “Local chefs are very community focused here. Relationships with farmers as well as your patrons’ matter.”
Reason 2 to Visit Bentonville, Arkansas: Restaurants Strive to Be Different
When dining at Oven and Tap, I couldn’t help but notice that every dish we tried was unique and different. Not only did my Fig and Prosciutto Pizza have amazing flavors, it wasn’t like anything I would get anywhere else. The fried mozzarella was light and crispy, not overly heavy. Even the chocolate chip skillet cookie and the apple buckle with house-made ice cream, were fresh, flavorful and completely delicious.
Executive Chef Luke Wetzel at Oven and Tap, prioritizes uniqueness. He said, “Innovation and communication is how you get things to work.” Like Cooper, Wetzel also prioritizes relationships with local farmers. He said that when you come together with your local farmers and community members, something greater happens. “Relationships matter.”
Reason 3 to Visit Bentonville, Arkansas: Culinary Opportunities for Community Members
Once the food scene began to really take off, the restaurateurs and chefs discovered a greater need for experienced and well-trained culinary staff. It was through this need that Brightwater Culinary Institute began. Residing in Bentonville’s local 8th Street Marketplace, Brightwater offers culinary certifications and education that is second to none.
Students of Brightwater get a diverse education in the culinary arts, including working with chocolate! Housed in the same 8th Street Marketplace is Markham & Fitz. I was able to try their incredible confections, including these amazing chocolate croissants, chocolate chip cookies, and hot chocolate. That chocolate layer cake is spectacular, isn’t it?!
Reason 4 to Visit Bentonville, Arkansas: Art coming together with Food
Bentonville has a revitalized and thriving downtown scene. They’ve married the local Southern style with modern art and establishments, like The Hive at 21C. I was able to have breakfast at The Hive. Its unique restaurant décor fits perfectly with the 21C hotel experience. 21C provides its guests with a wonderful array of art exhibits to enhance anyone’s stay. Those green penguins are not only charming but are the mascot of 21C and The Hive.
In addition to breakfast, we stopped back at The Hive later in the day for some of their craft cocktails. Wow!! My “Warm and Classy” made with mulled wine and bourbon was perfect for a cold, fall day. I’m on a mission to recreate this drink in the very near future!
You cannot visit Bentonville without spending some time at Crystal Bridges. I was stunned to discover the vast array of American and Contemporary art that fills this modern and unique art museum. I was able to find one of my favorite American characters, Rosie the Riveter, brought to life by artist Norman Rockwell. The art at Crystal Bridges was impressive and abundant, and worth visiting Bentonville just for a stop to take in the incredible culture!
Reason 5 to Visit Bentonville, Arkansas: Food and Culture with a tie to its Community
Food has a beautiful way of bringing us as individuals closer together as family and community. Bentonville has a beautiful small-town vibe that you can’t help but notice in its residents. The people of Bentonville will be the first to tell you that the quality of life here is unmatched! This is a region that rewards opportunity. It brings together local farmers, via their thriving Farmers Market to the residents and culinary community. Fresh foods should be something that everyone is afforded.
The quality of life aspect is apparent. You can ride a bike from downtown, to the Crystal Bridges Museum, or walk to the 8th Street Marketplace in minutes. I was able to take a beautiful bike ride along the trails and paths that surround Bentonville. It’s a wonderful community resource and gives its residents not only a means to get from point a to point b, but also offers experiences that are better than any screen.
Visiting Bentonville, Arkansas was a wonderful experience. I hope to make my way back there again soon. Not just for the food and amazing restaurants, but to see the wonderful people and community that stole my heart.
Are you interested in visiting Bentonville, Arkansas? Check out VisitBentonville.com – it’s a fantastic resource for everything to see, do and eat in Bentonville!