The Arkansas standard for barbecue, traditionally challenged by people on all sides of the argument, is for a beef or pork sandwich on white bread or bun with coleslaw and a peppery sauce. Variations therewith are sometimes challenged on the tiniest variations, such as Sim’s vinegar-soaked meat, Old Post’s slug of sweetness in the sauce, and McClard’s use of chopped cabbage and mayo instead of a pre-mixed coleslaw.
However, I have yet to find anyone else who’s tackling the same variation on a theme like Chip’s. The local favorite is all but unheard of outside of town, but has been operating non-stop since 1961. The Chipman family’s eatery adheres to most of the unwritten rules of Arkansas barbecuteries: meat is served smoked with sauce on the side, sandwiches come with coleslaw, and the store’s closed on Sunday. Like other smoke-and-sauce restaurants, Chip’s has its own specialties, such as a magnificent cheese dip and a restorative potato soup well known around this neighborhood for its curative properties. It also has its eccentricities, such as the above pictured Muffin Special ($5.35), barbecue meat served up on a toasted English muffin with American cheese in addition to slaw and sauce. Miracle Whip as a condiment is also a possibility. I tend to make sure to go for sauce on the side; while a good and typical example of Arkansas-style sauce, it’s a bit too strong for my taste, and I’d rather lay on a thin layer with a butterknife than take the gob they normally dollop under the bun.
But there’s another reason to visit this time of year… more on the jump.