James Harold Jones Daniel Walker

In the same year that a fire almost completely destroyed the iconic barbecue institution in Marianna (Lee County), Jones Bar-B-Q Diner has made the The New York Times Restaurant List comprised of 50 U.S. restaurants that the newspaper’s critics, editors and reporters are most excited about right now.

Something went wrong at Jones’ Bar-B-Q in February: Grease from the pork shoulders James Harold Jones cooks over hardwood coals sparked flames that spread to the roof. Nearly three-quarters of the restaurant burned, stoking fear that Jones’ Bar-B-Q, one of the oldest continuously operated Black-owned businesses in the country, was done for good. The public response — nearly $100,000 was raised to rebuild — was outsize for a two-table restaurant (not including the picnic table beneath the carport) that serves just one entree: pulled pork, sold by the pound or as a Wonder Bread sandwich, slathered in tomato-and-vinegar based sauce. Mr. Jones (“Mr. Harold” to his regulars) said his grandfather Walter Jones started the business in 1910. Now 77, Harold Jones has worked in his family’s restaurant since he was 14. The support he received to reopen it is a measure of the affection Arkansans have for him — and a testament to the power of that sandwich. — Brett Anderson

This isn’t the first time the restaurant has won national acclaim. In 2012 Jones Bar-B-Q Diner became the first restaurant in Arkansas to receive a James Beard “American Classic” Award.


The restaurant reopened after the February fire in July. The hours at Jones: 7 a.m. until the food runs out.