Russellville’s Finest

Story by Johnny Sain

Photos by Liz Chrisman

Despite it’s small-town status, Russellville eateries have gained statewide and sometimes even nationwide fame. And, like so many other aspects of the city, the menu offerings in Russellville are diverse.

For this Russellville Sesquicentennial issue, we searched through past issues of ABOUT, sifting through Valley Vittles columns and photos, trying to pin down Russellville’s four most iconic restaurants. The criteria was fairly simple: 1) A history of fantastic food. 2) Fantastic food now. 3) A unique, sometimes indescribable vibe that sets the restaurant apart from others offering similar meals. 4) Locally owned and woven into the community.

The list we settled on will likely draw debate, but we believe there’s little argument to be made against any establishment found on it. That being said, there’s more to the Russellville food scene than this quadruple of fine representatives.

Call on this foursome for toothsome local delights. But remember that the city is full of contenders for the title of Russellville’s most iconic restaurants.

 

Photo by Liz Chrisman

Stoby’s – Founded in 1984

What can’t you order at Stoby’s? Salads, burgers, quesadillas, breakfast, world-class cheese dip, their namesake sandwich, and so much more — diversity is on the menu and everything is delectable.

And then, of course you can eat in a train car and pull the whistle cord, too.

A delightful atmosphere, fantastic service, seemingly any dish you could ask for, and all prepared for the eye as well as the palate, Stoby’s is the place where any Russellville newcomer should dine first.

The biggest problem is what to order. The best solution is to try them all… over multiple visits, of course.

Photo by Liz Chrisman

Old Post – Founded in 1979

The primal craving for grilled meat is buried deep in our DNA. We can try to deny it. We can try to fight it. But the growling carnivore within usually has its say. And then we’re on the hunt, searching online for places to eat, a dish to satisfy this old hunger.

Thankfully, Russellville has always had such a place and the lore surrounding it has only grown. With meals on the menu like “The Combo” — one pound of assorted grilled meats — and the astoundingly huge, slightly intimidating “Dagwood,” you’ll be full and searching for a comfortable spot to nap off the feast in no time.

Blending a bit from various barbecue styles and flavors, Old Post has a long history as the barbecue standard of Russellville. A few barbecue newcomers in Russellville are closing the gap on Old Post. But we’ll check back in another 40 years, and odds are that Old Post will still be standing.

Photo by Liz Chrisman

Taco Villa – Founded in 1976

For so many years, this was THE Mexican food place in Russellville. And it’s not even really Mexican food. Call it Tex-Mex or even an entirely new genre all it’s own, Taco Villa is known far and wide for it’s unique take on south-of-the-border cuisine. Gigantic burritos, edible bowl taco salads, a cheese dip that you just can’t stop eating, and absolutely addictive hot sauce.

When former residents are asked about some things they miss most about Russellville, Taco Villa is often near the top of the list. And the tiny restaurant on Fourth Street’s popularity has only grown over the years. Lines regularly spill outside the doors during any workday noon hour.

It’s more than just the spicy, cheesy, crunchy bites. Taco Villa is is a taste that leaves you craving more, a taste you want to share with others. Taco Villa is a taste of Russellville.

Photo by Liz Chrisman

Old South – Founded in 1947

Two presidents and The King ate here. What else do you need to know?

Well, you should know that there are myriad reasons, besides some famous customers, that you should visit Old South. There’s the feeling that you’ve stepped back decades to maybe not a simpler time, but a time when things seemed more simple. The restaurant’s retro look is a huge component to the overall experience, and then there’s the food.

There’s some retro in the menu, too, and it’s done exceptionally well — chicken-fried steak, burgers, sandwiches, breakfast. There’s also the salads covered with that famous garlic ranch. There’s the Mickey Mouse pancakes. There’s the chocolate gravy… the chocolate gravy…

No other restaurant looks and tastes so much like our past as Old South. With neon tubes aglow and nostalgia in every bite, Old South is all that was and all that is excellent in Russellville eateries.