Arkansas is best known as being the Natural State, but did you know the state has some great restaurants serving up some of the best food around. So good, that the winners have been announced for the 2018 class of the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame.

The Arkansas Food Hall of Fame was launched by the Department of Arkansas Heritage in 2016 to recognize Arkansas’s legendary restaurants, proprietors and food-themed events across the state. Nominations were accepted from the public in five categories: Food Hall of Fame, Proprietor of the Year, Food-Themed Event, Gone But Not Forgotten and People’s Choice.

According to a press release, 450 nominations were received for the second class of the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame.

“We are so pleased to see the increasing response from the public in this conversation on Arkansas food and food culture. This is just the beginning of a program that will celebrate this special part of our heritage for years to come,” said Stacy Hurst, director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

The Arkansas Food Hall of Fame Committee chose the finalists in each category and the winners were announced at a reception and induction ceremony at Ron Robinson Theater in Little Rock on March 6.

The 11-member selection committee includes Paul S. Austin, Evette Brady, C.C. (Chip) Culpepper, Cindy Grisham, Stacy Hurst, Montine McNulty, Tim Morton, Rex Nelson, Tim Nutt, Kat Robinson and Christina Shutt.

Winners are as follows:

Arkansas Food Hall of Fame

Franke’s Cafeteria of Little Rock (Pulaski County)

McClard’s Bar-B-Q Restaurant of Hot Springs (Garland County)

The Venesian Inn of Tontitown (Washington County)

 Proprietor of the Year
Mary Beth Ringgold (Pulaski County)

Food-Themed Events

Gillett Coon Supper (Arkansas County)

Gone But Not Forgotten

Cotham’s Mercantile in Scott (Pulaski County)

People’s Choice

JJ’s Lakeside Café in Lake Village (Chicot County)

The mission of the Department of Arkansas Heritage is to identify Arkansas’s heritage and enhance the quality of life for residents and visitors by the discovery, preservation and presentation of the state’s natural, cultural and historic resources.