Nothing beats the delicious crisp taste of old-fashioned pan fried chicken, the way grandmothers used to make it. The AQ Chicken House on business Highway 71 in Springdale, Arkansas has been serving pan fried chicken for more than fifty years. The AQ stands for “Arkansas Quality” and the restaurant has been voted Best Restaurant in Northwest Arkansas as well as being named the place to find the Best Pan Fried Chicken, the best BBQ ribs, the best plate lunch, and the best overall restaurant. Guest registers dating back over a half century list names from all over the United States and more than a few world travelers. Diners are encouraged to leaf through the old registers to spot familiar names or even a few celebrity names among them. Both President George H. Bush and President Bill Clinton have visited the restaurant to dine on the Southern style fare. Pictures line the walls of the old eatery and a new addition allows expanded space for the one million visitors each year. Folks from across the state and neighboring Missouri and Oklahoma know AQ Chicken House as the best fried chicken in the region.
AQ Chicken House began in 1947 as a humble roadside restaurant serving up their own pan fried chickens. In the early days chicken coops out back illustrated the farm fresh quality of Arkansas chickens. Although those days ended long ago, AQ Chicken House still serves the freshest, highest quality chicken available. Since Northwest Arkansas is home to more than one poultry plant (the surrounding hills are filled with chicken farms), finding fresh chickens is a snap.
On opening day – July 20, 1947 – diners could munch on half a pan fried chicken for a mere 65 cents. A cup of coffee on the side was just a nickel. Today, although prices have increased with the changing times, the menu still offers the same pan fried chicken that made the place famous. Over the years, the menu has expanded. Chicken fans will find not only the original pan fried chicken dinners but a host of others. Choose from chargrilled Chicken Over The Coals, AQ Chicken Tenders, Fire Roasted Chicken fresh from the rotisserie, Cajun Chicken and Ozark Smothered Chicken breast (a gourmet delight that includes cheese and mushrooms over a chicken breast).
Diners who prefer a different entree can choose from the award winning barbequed ribs, hickory smoked steaks, chicken fried steak, or White River Catfish. The fish can be served Southern style fried or Lemon Pepper Grilled.
Vegetarians will find a host of fresh salads and much more.
Meals are served with homemade biscuits or hot rolls, choice of homemade mashed potatoes or home fries, and garden vegetables that include corn and okra. Dessert choices are on the menu for those who have room remaining after a delicious AQ meal. Plate lunch specials offer an affordable option during the noon hour and other specials are often available.
In recent years Northwest Arkansas has boomed and expanded. In nearby Bentonville, headquarters to the giant Wal-Mart discount store chain, a location was popular until a recent fire destroyed the building. A few miles south in Fayetteville, University of Arkansas students, faculty, and fans enjoy the same good food in a second location on Business Highway 71. Although US 7l has become a four lane highway that skirts the metropolitan areas of the quad cities of Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale and Fayetteville, the business highway where the original AQ Chicken House still stands has changed little over the past fifty years.
Dining is a culinary pleasure for all because the menu offers both traditional country style fare along with 21st century gourmet choices. A visit to the original AQ Chicken House is also a cultural experience. It’s living history and much more.
The original AQ Chicken House is located in Springdale, Arkansas along business route Highway 71 South.