Bentonville, Arkansas, is a surprising little hotbed of incredible food, art, and culture. Think the quaintness of Mayberry meets the foodie vibes available in Austin, Texas, or New York City. I can’t wait for my next trip back to Bentonville. I barely scratched the surface of the unique restaurants in downtown Bentonville, but it is THE place to visit for culinary delights and the arts.
I ate at some astonishing restaurants during my visit to Bentonville for a recent food and travel summit. I ate my way through the city for 3 days, and there wasn’t a bad bite to be had. The best restaurants in Bentonville, Arkansas, included The Preacher’s Son and their basement speakeasy Undercroft.
Thanks to Visit Bentonville for bringing me to their town to show me what it’s all about and sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own.
The Preacher’s Son
If you love restored buildings, The Preacher’s Son in Bentonville, Arkansas, will have you swooning. The restaurant is located in a restored 1904 Gothic Revival style church.
The church itself has a rich history—it was the first Christian church in downtown Bentonville. The concept of the restaurant is a mélange of the church’s history, the book “The Seven Lamps of Architecture,” the actual preacher’s son—Executive Chef Matt Cooper’s influence, new and existing structural features, all complemented with an art glass installation by George Dombek.
Evening isn’t nearly as impressive lighting-wise as daytime, as the website photos will show you, but the art glass installation will still impress. I need to get back to see the inside in the daytime first hand.
The Preacher’s Son features a 100% gluten-free menu because Northwest Arkansas native Chef Cooper is celiac. Cooper, who got his classical training in Portland, Oregon, has put together a menu of rustic and traditional American cuisine focused on sustainability paired with the local movement.
Check out the food that made my night:
Conceivably the exact opposite of its lighter sanctuary aboveground, if you venture down to the cellar to Undercroft, you’ll have a whole other experience waiting for you in Bentonville’s speakeasy.
Take the stairs from The Preacher’s Son to the prohibition-style entrance door “Coatroom” near the washrooms or use the back entrance outside, and you’ll find yourself in a much darker, heavier feeling basement. Cooler, heavier, cavern-like, the design is supposed to remind you of the deep underground Ozark caverns. The metal-topped bar is reminiscent of cavern crystals and minerals and accent cushions on the seating give the same illustrious shimmer. Exposed beams and metal accents create an intentionally dark and moody space with a touch of a steampunk feel, creating a visual weight in contrast to the lighter sanctuary of The Preacher’s Son above.
Read our article on Art in Bentonville, AR