I once suggested to my friend Sam from Arkansas that there is only one real city in his home state. It is called Little Rock, and beyond its city limits is a wasteland of hypermorality (or, as I say, moral fixation) and hypocivilization. I found out recently, however, that the city of Carlisle, Arkansas is real, and if not that then at the very least the infamous restaurant known as Nick's BBQ and Catfish (advertised for up to 100 miles in either direction on billboards along I-40).
The wait staff is, as far as I was able to witness, entirely comprised of women in their 20s who call their patrons "baby" and "honey." This is a smart move, considering that Nick's caters to truck drivers, who are stereotypically understood to be adult males, lonely and weary from long hours of driving. The HD television in the back corner seems out of place as the plot of USA's Burn Notice (characters welcome) plays out predictably.
While the brisket and catfish (or catfood, according to a slip of the tongue I made while reading the billboard) are tauted, the slow smoked wood fire ribs are my reason for recommending Nick's. I don't know that anything more needs to be said regarding Nick's ribs save that the tender meat falls off the bone, revealing a smokey and satisfying taste.
There was once a time when my drive from Fort Worth to Grand Rapids lead me through Oklahoma City, Wichita and St. Louis. I now travel through Memphis, Nashville and Indianapolis, but before I get to those cities I make a pit stop in Carlisle for some exquisite ribs.