LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – This week on THV11 This Morning, we're taking you to some of the best local barbecue places around central Arkansas.
In the heart of Little Rock, tucked away in a little residential neighborhood off Lancaster, a small white house stands alone. It's home to some of the best barbecue in the capitol city and it's a place not many people know about.
The ones who do, though, come back year after year. Everyone knows about the big barbecue names like Whole Hog Cafe, McClard’s, Sims BBQ and the Cross Eyed Pig, but H.B.’s Bar B.Q. has been on the scene for more than 50 years, run by the son of the couple who started the business.
Bruce Slaughter started working at H.B.’s with his parents when he was nine. His parents started the restaurant after working with his aunt and uncle for years at a place called “The Shack Bar-B-Q”, and deciding to branch out on their own. “Back in the early 50's and 60's they decided to move out here and open their own place and call it H.B.’s", Slaughter recalls. He says they were able to walk next door to go to work. Since Slaughter doesn't have any kids, there's no one in line to take over H.B.’s. He says he's interested in selling it when he's ready to retire to Lake Hamilton.
Not much has changed at H.B.’S in the 50 plus years it’s been open, including some of the staff. Ginny Wright started working at the barbecue restaurant 25 years ago. “I washed dishes. I started right here at this sink. Then I got a promotion and moved up to waitress...cashier… and now I do it all, all by myself.” Wright knows most of the customers by name, and knows all of their orders by heart. She’s even won the “Best Waitress in Arkansas Award”.
So what keeps the customers coming back week after week, year after year? David Black swears “this is the best barbecue in the state. In fact, maybe the United States." He’s not alone. Most of the customers and staff all say the same thing: the meat is delicious, and simple, smoked with hickory and pecan, but the best thing at H.B.’S is the sauce. Breta Hauge, who picks up barbecue to go for the residents at the nursing home where she works, says "really I love the sauce here. The sauce is my favorite thing." Black, and his friend Steve Allen, agree. Even Wright says "the sauce is what makes the meat, makes the barbecue."
So who makes the sauce? Bruce Slaughter, of course. And he won’t give away its secret, besides telling us that it’s made fresh every day. They even bottle it to go for their loyal customers, but its bring-your-own-jar.
Once you've indulged in your barbecue, your burgers, your tamales, and everything else- don't forget about dessert. H.B.’S makes a dozen flavors of fried pies.
A lot of food gets passed through the small dining room in the small house-like building. For many, nostalgia continues to draw them to the space. Breta Hauge says it best when she describes the food, and the atmosphere at H.B.’S: "it's like having a piece of home again. It's just home."