I regularly make the trip between Little Rock and Northwest Arkansas, unless you want a burger (several good options in Russellville) food options are a bit scarce for lunch along I40 once you get past Conway. In fact, one of the questions we get asked the most is about food options between Russellville and Ozark. For whatever reason it seems that is the point on the road when people get hungry going both directions. Thankfully some industry friends from Ben E Keith discovered this hidden gem in Clarksville called Fox and Fork that seems to fill the need well.
Fox and Fork is not far off the interstate, just take the Rogers Ave exit (Exit 58), head north to Main street, take a left and it is about a half mile down on 117 S College Ave. It is easy to overlook from Main Street, thankfully downtown Clarksville is easy to navigate if you miss it the first time.
Clarksville is certainly not known for a thriving food scene, that was part of the allure to owners Robert and Kim Mullins who started Fox and Fork a little over a year ago. It was a way to bring good food to an area in desperate need of something more than Subway and Wendy’s. Something that was very clear when we spotted numerous fast food employees slip away from their jobs to grab lunch over the course of the afternoon.
The building itself is rich with history. It is one of the oldest buildings in downtown Clarksville, a downtown that has clearly seen more vibrant days. It was at one point a series of apartments, something you will see signs of immediately when you use the bathroom which still has a working bathtub in it. Later it was a radio station, and various other uses before settling into a food spot.
Before it became Fox and Fork it was a coffee shop, in fact when we visited a few of the awnings printed with the coffee shop name still existed. Robert Mullins tells us that people still stop in frequently for coffee, so much so that they decided to keep the espresso machine and offer coffee service in addition to the standard food menu. It is a good thing they did, because it is the only coffee spot in Clarksville, and serves up some very well brewed coffee.
We hit up Fox and Fork for lunch, the dinner menu is different with a bigger focus on entrees. For lunch it is a solid mix of sandwiches, burgers, and small plates. We had a mix of sandwiches including the shaved pork, braised brisket, pulled shoulder, and a daily special duck breast along with a daily special crawfish bites and some house made bread.
Everything was far better than you would expect, especially given the lack of food in the area. The food was fresh, with practically everything made in house, and often relying on nearby farms for produce. It is easily the best food stop I have made in that stretch of road, and without a doubt better than the surrounding fast food options.
Dinner looks very interesting with a strong mix of steaks, sliders, chicken, and scallops. On the small plates/appetizer menu there is also poutine, shrimp and grits, mushrooms, and pork rillettes. This is something I really want to take the time to stop back in and try when I have a little more time. They are also one of the few places in Clarksville with a full bar. The county is dry, so it operates under a private club license. It has a solid mix of staple cocktails and some good local beers from both main regions of the state.
The dining area is divided into two main sections, with an open kitchen in the entrance side along with a few scattered tables. The main dining area has several tables, a small stage, and the bar area. The walls are adorned with really good artwork that predates Fox and Fork moving into the space. It adds an interesting vibe to the whole area.
Outside there is a space that would make for a great patio, but at the time it is not utilized. The Mullins say this is an area of expansion they hope to do in the future, it would be a great addition to the space.
The walls are solid brick, with very little sound blocking. When we visited there was someone playing the piano, and at times it was a little on the loud side. If you have a business meeting or are more interested in conversation, I would suggest being seated on the entrance side of the restaurant.
Coming from either Little Rock or Northwest, you will find the price very reasonable. Sandwiches range from $8-10, apps/small plates are all $7. The dinner menu starts at $13 and tops out at $25 for a 15 ounce ribeye. It may not be as cheap as the $6 foot long from subway down the street, but it also will not taste like slightly turned deli meat either. Overall it is an average lunch price, especially considering the quality.
It is a great stop to make on your way up and down I40 where the food options are limited. As a big bonus, everything can be made to go, and they will accept call in orders. So really even if you are pressed for time in traveling it is still a strong option. It takes 3 minutes to get there from the interstate, so it really isn’t much of a difference. If you have a little more time to stop and linger, the dining space is nice, and you can grab a good coffee while you sit. They also have wifi which is handy for knocking out a few emails or using a minute to catch up on some work.
Fox and Fork
117 S College Ave, Clarksville, AR
Drive time: 1 1/2 hours from either Little Rock or Fayetteville
Hours: 11-9 Monday – Saturday
Phone: (479) 647-5010