12 Best Restaurants in Jonesboro, Arkansas

Last Updated on February 13, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Nestled in the heart of Northeast Arkansas, Jonesboro offers a surprisingly vibrant and diverse food scene. Known for its downhome Southern cooking, Jonesboro also boasts innovative chefs putting modern twists on classic dishes. The college town atmosphere and steady stream of visitors means restaurants strive to impress.

From upscale cuisine served in an elegant setting to comfort food dished out in a casual cafe, Jonesboro restaurants cater to all tastes. The city’s location in fertile farmland means fresh, seasonal ingredients feature heavily on menus. Locally-sourced catfish, crappie, steaks and produce are staples in the city’s eateries.

To discover the best food in Jonesboro, one must venture beyond the well-known chain restaurants and big box stores lining the main drags. The city’s formidable roster of mom and pop establishments are steeped in history while trendy cafes reimagine Arkansas cuisine. Across the spectrum, these restaurants showcase Jonesboro’s adventurous palate and hospitable nature through one-of-a-kind dining experiences.

An Eclectic Mix of Dining Options

The Jonesboro food scene serves up southern comfort with contemporary twists. Locals embrace the traditions of meat and three veggie plates while welcoming flavors from around the globe. The city strikes a tasty balance between the two cooking styles.

Historic diners transport visitors back in time with soda fountain treats and blue plate specials. Old Mill and Skillet serve classic fare in nostalgic digs. Downtown, The Parsonage presents new American cuisine in a converted church.

Jonesboro’s proximity to Memphis and Little Rock brings outside influences to town. Chef-driven restaurants like 311 Park Avenue Grill and Frank & Ellen’s offer a more refined dining experience.

Intrepid palates can expand their horizons further at taquerias and Asian eateries. Stix serves up Japanese hibachi while Tam’s serves Vietnamese pho in hip settings.

Above all, Jonesboro restaurants let quality ingredients steal the spotlight. Locally-grown produce and expertly-raised meats and fish provide a solid foundation for creative plates. Consistently good food keeps locals coming back for more.

How We Chose the 12 Best Restaurants

To compile this list of Jonesboro’s best restaurants, we consulted local food writers and restaurant associations. Social media reviews and local publications provided additional insight into the most popular establishments. We also anonymously visited highly rated restaurants over several weeks.

Important ranking criteria included:

Quality of Food: Flavor, creativity, ingredient freshness and skill of preparation.

Service: Professionalism, hospitality and management competence.

Ambiance: Visual decor and atmosphere reflecting restaurant style or cuisine.

Value: Quality of food and experience versus pricing and portions.

Consistency: Maintaining quality and service across multiple visits spanning day, night and weekend.

Local Favorite: Positive reputation and longevity suggesting consistent community support.

Using this methodology focused on the total dining experience, we are delighted to present the 12 best restaurants showcasing Jonesboro’s food scene.

1. The Parsonage

Price Range: $11 – $30 per entrée

Cuisine: New American

Converted from a 19th century parsonage, this fine dining destination dazzles with seasonal American cuisine served in an historic downtown mansion. White linens and crystal goblets accompany creative dishes prepared with expert skill. Though upscale, the ambiance remains welcoming and lively. Happy hour attracts a local after-work crowd with discounted small bites and regional wine and beer.

Dinner features grilled steaks, seafood and pastas accented by herbs from the on-site garden. House cocktails and an extensive whiskey list cater to more adventurous palates. For dessert, indulge in the six-layer chocolate cake accented with port wine. Located downtown, The Parsonage excels at special occasion dining in a memorable location embodying Jonesboro history.

2. Skillet Restaurant

Price Range: $7 – $15 per entrée

Cuisine: American, Diner

Since 1947, this vintage diner has remained a go-to spot for delicious comfort food in an iconic setting. Locals pack the leather booths and counter seats for oversized omelets, chicken fried steak, slow-roasted pot roast and all the classic sides. Open early for big country breakfasts, Skillet also serves up Arkansas staples like fried catfish and foot-long chili dogs for lunch and dinner.

Enjoy the retro neon vibes and black & white checkerboard floors before digging into a slice of homemade coconut cream pie. Though the operations expanded over time, the White family upholds loyal service and a reverence for recipes perfected over decades. Its welcoming atmosphere and consistently good cooking makes Skillet a cherished neighborhood gem.

3. Frank & Ellen’s Good Eats Bistro

Price Range: $12 – $25 per entrée

Cuisine: American Bistro

Housed in a converted tile company from the 1920s, Frank & Ellen’s delivers fine dining focusing on steaks and seafood interpreted through various cooking methods. Knowledgeable waiters describe the flavors and preparation behind dishes like coffee-crusted filet mignon, prosciutto-wrapped shrimp and crawfish etouffee. Every meal begins with a complimentary appetizer of three cheese bisque enriched with sherry wine.

Extensive wine and cocktail menus help create lively ambiance in the exposed brick interior or enclosed garden patio. For a sweet finish, the seven-layer chocolate cake towers with silky frosting and fresh berries. Reserved for special occasions or an upscale business lunch, Frank & Ellen’s remains many local’s top choice for celebrating milestones for its upscale yet welcoming environment.

4. Onto’s Greek & American Cuisine

Price Range: $8 – $18 per entrée

Cuisine: Greek and American

Onto’s brings a taste of the Greek Isles to Jonesboro with fresh spin on gyros, moussaka and spanakopita paired with American pasta and pizza favorites. The family restaurant originated as a pizza shop before expanding into Greek specialties reflecting the ancestral cuisine of owner Jim Ontomen. Alongside pizza slices, the menu tempts tastebuds with pastitsio, a decadent Greek lasagna, and tiropita, triangles of phyllo dough stuffed with feta cheese.

Locals praise the consistency of crispy thin pizzas available with traditional or Greek toppings. Round out a meal with traditional desserts like baklava dripping with honey syrup or rice pudding flavored with cinnamon. Squeeze a table into the cozy, taverna-style space adorned with travel posters and blue and white trim for a taste of Greece without the long-haul flight.

5. Old Mill Steakhouse & Saloon

Price Range: $12 – $32 per entrée

Cuisine: Steakhouse

In operation since the 1960s, Old Mill offers expertly prepared steaks alongside entertainment in an immense Western lodge doubling as the historic Old Mill Tavern performance venue next door. Servers in cowboy hats deliver sizzling mesquite-grilled filet mignon, ribeyes and strips seared to order tableside. Slow roasted prime rib becomes melt-in-your-mouth tender over 12 hours of hickory smoke flavoring.

Seafood, chicken and Arkansas pork round out the menu focused on quality cuts grilled over live fire. Sides like baked potatoes and sautéed mushrooms feel comfortingly familiar while specialty salad dressings and tableside preparations add extra flair. Cozy up in a crimson leather booth or reserve the balcony area overlooking stage shows after dinner service. With flexible menus for big groups and its storied history of serving famous performers, Old Mill Steakhouse brings Vegas spectacle to locally-sourced cuisine.

6. Flay’s contemporary American cuisine

Price Range: $18 – $39 per entrée

Cuisine: Contemporary American

The name celebrates Executive Chef Robert Flay who returned home to Jonesboro after heading up acclaimed restaurants nationwide. Open just three years, Flay’s already earned a reputation for artfully prepared steaks, seafood and game reflecting modern food movements. Menus change bi-weekly but often include elk chops served with local elderberry compote, jerk spiced quail and shrimp po boys plated with housemade bacon.

Year-round, diners praise the bone-in pork chop from hormone-free Ozark Mountain hogs and the grass-fed filet mignon sourced from a farm outside town. Intricate desserts, specialty cocktails and one of Arkansas’ best wine lists attract special occasion diners. For more casual after-work mingling, grab a booth in the sleek blue-hued bar to sample small plates like duck fat fries paired with regional beers and wines by the glass. Flay’s contemporary approach towards local ingredients astounds tastebuds in upscale environs.

7. Bluebird Cafe

Price Range: $9 – $15 per entrée

Cuisine: Southern, Farm-to-table

At this quaint spot just off Main Street, Arkansas native son Brandon Raine sources seasonal meat, eggs and produce from local farmers to create a rotating menu of regional cuisine. Signature items include buttermilk brined fried chicken served with savory waffles and strawberry butter. Locals love the catfish po boy piled high with crispy fillets and housemade pickles. Arkansas blackberry cobbler and homemade ice cream round out the homestyle flavors.

Dressed in sunny yellow and accented with antique farm relics, the cafe invites lingering over farm fresh fare sourced from folks Brandon befriended through his restaurant work starting as a teen. Quality ingredients, personable service and hints of nostalgia make this relative newcomer a fast favorite. Stop in on Friday evenings to catch live folk or blues music on the enclosed patio.

8. 311 Park Avenue Grill

Price Range: $17 – $34 per entrée

Cuisine: Contemporary American

Tucked away on historic Park Avenue downtown, this contemporary American eatery delivers elevated renditions of regional cuisine with an ever-changing lineup of inventive specials. Perennial menu highlights include shrimp gumbo made silky with fresh okra and andouille sausage, potato crusted catfish on corn maque choux and bourbon molasses pork chops. For the full experience, share appetizers like flash fried avocado drizzled with lime crema before diving into the rotating cast iron specials or certified Angus steaks.

Lavish desserts like white chocolate bread pudding or handmade ice creams cap evenings in the moody, elegant space outfitted in dark woods, polished brass and black and white photos of early Jonesboro. Part supper club, part progressive kitchen, 311 Park Avenue Grill showcases both Jonesboro’s roots and creative cooking potential through market-driven menus and polished service.

9. Stix Japanese Hibachi Grill and Sushi Bar

Price Range: $12 – $30 per entrée

Cuisine: Japanese

Arkansas may seem an unlikely locale for sublime sushi but locals swear by the rolls churned out at this hopping Japanese grill. Watch cloaked chefs theatrically prepare fried rice, noodles and vegetables on big circular griddles while your food sizzles. For those who prefer raw fish, an ocean’s variety of sashimi and specialty rolls are ready to eat.

The fiery Dragon Roll stuffed with eel and avocado competes in popularity only with the Caterpillar Roll mixing smoked salmon and cream cheese. Beyond seafood, hibachi steak and chicken deliver smoky sweetness kissed by soy sauce during the cooking demonstrations. Stix nails the teppanyaki showmanship and savory Japanese fare often found lacking this far inland. For colorful menus, flashy cooking and bright decor, its the number one destination for celebrating special events with a taste of the Orient.

10. Cape Flattery Seafood and Grill

Price Range: $12 – $26 per entrée

Cuisine: Seafood

Come hungry for heaping servings of expertly fried seafood served Cape Cod style in red plastic baskets lining newspaper-topped tables. Whole lobster tails, butterflied jumbo shrimp and breaded catfish stand up to the generous portions of fries and hush puppies. Tartar and cocktail sauce flavor matters without overshadowing the impeccably fresh fish.

Those craving surf and turf can upgrade to 8-ounce sirloin steaks or baby back pork ribs slow roasted to fall-off-the-bone tenderness. Cape Flattery’s nautical theme sets a New England mood with faux lighthouses, fish nets and surfaces painted blue and white. On temperate days, enjoy patio seating watching Porta Pup food trucks come and go next door. Affordable and abundantly good, Cape Flattery lands a bullseye on fried favorites served in heaping baskets by the Arkansas’ faux shoreline.

11. Tam’s Downtown Cafe

Price Range: $8 – $15 per entrée

Cuisine: Vietnamese

Tam’s brings the vibrant flavors of Vietnam to downtown Jonesboro in an artsy, modern cafe focusing on pho noodle soup and banh mi sandwiches. Knowledgeable owners Tam and Tuan Nguyen prepare every dish using family recipes reflective of their ancestral Saigon food traditions. Each bowl of pho starts with homemade bone broth bubbling for over 24 hours to achieve intense depth of flavor.

Customize spice levels on signature pho options like eye round steak or meatball before adding fresh herbs, chili sauce and lime. Crispy spring rolls with ginger dipping sauce make great starters before banh mi loaded up with cilantro, pickled carrot and your choice of grilled meat or tofu. For afters, Vietnamese coffee and teas help cut the lingering heat. With authentic cooking techniques and familial care towards ingredients, Tam’s presents proper Vietnamese fare with genuine hospitality.

12. The Roasted Pear

Price Range: $9 – $12 per entrée

Cuisine: Sandwiches and Coffee

Find refuge from busy downtown shopping on a cozy sofa or patio seat at Jonesboro original cafe The Roasted Pear. Lofted ceilings, exposed beams and walls of windows fill the space with natural light ideal for whiling away hours people watching. Serving coffee drinks morning to night, the Pearl caters to caffeine cravings along with sweets like hand-dipped ice cream and chocolate croissants.

For heartier appetites, overstuffed sandwiches on housebaked breads make ideal meals accompanied by creamy soups and snacks like baked brie coated in toasted almonds with blackberry compote. Monthly evening dinners hosted by guest chefs allow local talent to shine with seasonal small plates or pop up menus. With its charming architecture and ingredients sourced from neighboring states, the Pearl sweetens days with purposeful design, community spirit and tasty treats.

Conclusion

From soulful Southern plates to global cuisine, Jonesboro’s best restaurants fuse comforting flavors, quality ingredients and skilled preparation into memorable fare. Foodies find plenty to savor amongst historic diners, contemporary kitchens and ethnic eateries reflecting the city’s openness towards outside influences.

As Jonesboro’s dining scene continues to progress, these 12 restaurants lead the way in outstanding execution and rootsy recipes true to Northeast Arkansas.

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