story by Peter Lewis. Photos by those who claim to have met him.
Editor’s note: If you’ve been waiting for Peter, we’ve got good news. Beginning today (Dec. 4), The City Wire will post each Thursday a few short notes from Peter Lewis that offer at least two dining and entertainment options for the weekend. The Friday Feast — not only clever, but alliterative — is now available for your consumption free of charge. Enjoy.
Brush up on your Latin
There are any number of restaurants in the area that offer different takes on Latin-American cuisine. El Rodeo is one that stands out. Located in a medium-sized building on the 3500 block of North O Street in Fort Smith, El Rodeo offers friendly staff and affordable prices. With the majority of the dishes ranging from $5-$10, a dinner for two might tally $20 or less. Luckily the quality of the food does not suffer as a result of this economy.
El Rodeo offers many different options for the diner. From combination plates and tamales to machaca and menudo, there is usually a dish sure to please even your most fickle friend.
For something slightly adventurous yet sure to please, drop the enchilada order and try the gorditas. These “little fatties” consist of thick cornmeal tortillas stuffed with your choice of meat and cheese. They are a treat.
Unfortunately, adult libations are not available at El Rodeo. Instead, try one of the multitude of agua frescas or refrescas. These are blended fruit beverages that consist of fruit, sugar and water — the end product being a “fresh water” beverage. Horchata, a vanilla and cinnamon spiced rice milk, is the perfect agua fresca to counteract spicy food.
Remembering to tip your servers before you leave, head downtown for drinks at Woody's in the Howard Johnson on North 11 Street. Starting at 8 p.m., a $5 cover charge grants you entry into the soulful world of Larry B. After dancing off those gorditas, head across the street to the Fort Smith Events Center. A $10 ticket allows you to channel your 1980s spirit and rock out with the Velcro Pygmies. This loud and outrageously glam rock band is self described as a “trip back to when rock n roll was fun and entertaining...” The show kicks off at 9 p.m.
On the PeterMeter adventure scale, this itinerary is a 7 out of 10.
More Latin? Yes. And you’ll love it.
The kitchen at Rolando's offers a unique take on Latin American cuisine that sets it apart. Though it has undoubtedly become an institution of sorts on Garrison Avenue in Fort Smith, the kitchen and bar staff consistently put forth a quality product. Whether it's a margarita on the rocks (no salt, thank you) or the plato bohemia, there is a continuity in the service level.
Before settling down for dinner, find your way to the cantina. Located at the rear of the restaurant, it is the perfect place to start the evening with conversation and a cocktail. With your thirst properly sated, mosey into the dining area and do your best to pick just one dish from the menu. If adventure is the key, how could you skip the Plato de Adventura ($17.95)? Make sure you’ve come with an appetite because with the shrimp, chicken, quesadillas, rice and more, well, this adventure is a large one.
Don't call it a night just yet. Work off the food with a short stroll down to the Riverfront Amphitheater and let the cloudless sky and crisp air invigorate before switching cultural gears at the Hamburger Barn. Starting at 8 p.m. you can hear The Crumbs modern take on the old Appalachian sounds of bluegrass. From Latin, to burgers to bluegrass, we rate this night a 4 out of 10 on the PeterMeter adventure scale.
Know your Peter
Born and raised in Fort Smith, Peter Lewis is a graduate of the University of Texas. Prior to returning to the Fort Smith area, Peter spent the past year as a bartender living abroad and traveling. He claims to never have been a fan of the Brady Bunch, but does admit to having thrown zucchini at a passing truck.