EATS & SWEETS
Ask any local where you should grab breakfast and “Spudnuts” (810 West Faulkner Street, 870-863-9914) is sure to be the first response. The iconic, no-frills doughnut shop has a monopoly on morning pastries, and it’s easy to see why. The locals are right about the taste; we suggest ordering a dozen, because you’re sure to want more than one. Once part of a chain with hundreds of stores nationwide, the El Dorado location is one of few surviving shops and a true landmark in the city.
If you’re the type that longs for a gourmet coffee to get you going in the morning, head to Elm St. Bakery & Coffee Bar (116 East Elm Street, 870-881-8844), which is located on the town square in what is known as the Garrett Building. This property was used as a post office until 1921, at which time it became occupied by Hall’s Pharmacy. Today, you can enjoy a flavored coffee at their historic marble soda-fountain counter and admire the 110-year-old stamped metal ceiling tiles and mahogany cabinetry. This is also a popular midday lunch stop, where you’ll want to grab one of their “super sweet baked goods” to save for an afternoon snack.
If you’re in town for a weeknight dinner, try Fay Ray’s (110 East Elm Street, 870-863-4000, fayrays.com). Also located on the square—and a few doors down from Elm St. Bakery—Fayray’s is a comfortable spot for a business dinner, gathering with friends, or a date night. You’ll find staples such as brined pork chops and traditional steaks alongside seafood selections, including their signature Snapper Fayrays, on the menu. If your sweet tooth must be indulged after dinner, continue walking around the square until you reach El Dorado Creamery (106 West Main Street, Suite 101, 870-875-1409). The frozen yogurt shop, which is a favorite of kids and adults alike, has every flavor and topping under the sun, allowing you to create the exact concoction your heart desires. We couldn’t resist the “Birthday Cake” yogurt topped with colorful candy sprinkles.
The design work of the full-service firm, Sydney Murphy Design (111 East Main Street, 870-863-6625, sydneymurphydesign.com), has graced the pages of At Home in Arkansas more than once; and impeccable china, serving pieces, and gift selections from the storefront of the same name never disappoint. On this visit, we were delighted to see their new line of Clementine Hunter-inspired pieces, including plates, platters, pillows, and tea towels—all of which feature reproductions of the work of the acclaimed contemporary American artist who captured the story of life at Melrose Plantation, where she worked and lived. Each piece featured in this line is handmade.
If you’re looking to be pampered while in town, continue down Main Street to Spa on Main (209 East Main Street, 870-863-7546, spaonmain.com). On the day we visited, we found the owner, Laura Barrow, testing a new Bare Minerals makeup product on store employee—and promising singer/songwriter—Emily Cole. While the array of services—from massages and manicures to facials and airbrush tanning—offered at the spa were tempting, we found there are two more facets of this conveniently located business that were equally appealing—the Zen Den yoga studio, which offers classes throughout the week, and the Refinery Dry Bar at Spa on Main, where you can get a blowout or styled look for a night out or a special occasion.
While there’s no shortage of music, art, or theatre in this town, one event takes center stage each October. MusicFest El Dorado 28 (Union Square, 870-862-4747, musicfesteldorado.com) will be held Friday, October 2 and Saturday, October 3. This year’s lineup features more than 30 acts including headliners 3 Doors Down, country superstar Dwight Yoakam, hip-hop duo Kid ‘n Play, and piano-legend Jason D. Williams. If you can’t make MusicFest, be sure to mark your calendar for the Mayhaw Festival (870-862-9890, mayhawfestival.com), which will take place May 1 in 2016. With live music, 5K and 10K races, and—of course—an opportunity to purchase locally made Mayhaw jelly, it’s a day that’s not to be missed.