Don Quixote Rides Again in Calico Rock

Calico Rock is one of the Ozark Gateway region’s most attractive “get away from it all” locations.  The natural beauty of the bluffs overlooking the White River is incomparable and the easy pace of the community invites the visitor to relax, unwind, and appreciate the scenic landscape, historic downtown, and congenial locals.  The river itself is a major attraction, offering some of the best trout fishing to be found anywhere, as well as canoeing, rafting, and tubing.  Over the past decade, community leaders have worked to maintain and showcase their historic assets, add events and attractions, and provide visitors with a variety of lodging and dining options. Their efforts are paying off.

Don Quixote’s restaurant serves as an appropriate centerpiece for the community’s emergence as a tourist destination.  Centrally located in the business district, yet just a few hundred yards from the river, Don Quixote’s has established an outstanding reputation for hearty lunches and unmatched desserts and pastries. Equally impressive is the Friday and Saturday dinner menu, an ambitious array of classic favorites ranging from Veal Marsala and Chicken Picatta to Seared Halibut.  Factor in reasonable prices, excellent service, and a friendly, almost festive atmosphere and it’s easy to see why Don Quixote’s has become an institution that invites frequent visits and rave reviews. Restaurants in small rural communities don’t last fourteen years and counting by accident.

The restaurant effectively captures some of the unfettered whimsy associated with the Spanish knight whose name it bears.  Spacious and comfortable, it is decorated in a delightfully eclectic style, featuring Disney puppets, vintage kitchen implements, photos, even a metal sculpture of Don Quixote himself.  Owner Gloria Gushue adds a welcoming touch and is ready to answer any questions about the building, the food, or the area.

Lunch is served Tuesday through Sunday. Highlights include the extremely popular Reuben Sandwich, featuring razor-thin corned beef brisket on hearty swirled pumpernickel; an inviting Chicken Quesadilla with fresh tomatoes, scallions, and just the right touch of garlic; a hearty Cheese Steak Sandwich flavored with a touch of brandy; and a colorful Greek Salad tossed in a perfect balance of olive oil and lemon juice. Regulars are quick to recommend the flavorful Potato Soup or the hearty Chicken Noodle.  All the daily soup specials are made on the premises and available to go in quart containers. For a little nostalgia, try an IBC Root Beer or Cream Soda with lunch.

The only bad thing I have ever heard anyone say about Don Quixote’s is that dinner is only served on Friday and Saturday evening.  Not surprisingly, headlining the dinner menu is Calico Trout, boneless Idaho trout, coated in bread crumbs, garlic, Italian herbs, and parmesan before being cooked to perfection. Fish lovers will find the Seared Halibut, seared with olive oil and lemon, equally worthy of their consideration.  Although it’s fairly seldom a restaurant in rural Arkansas features more than one veal dish; Don Quixote’s offers two choices: a classic Veal Marsala and Three Seasoned Veal, an original creation which brings garlic, basil, and lemon together.

Other dinner options include a ½ rack of Babyback Ribs, a ¾ pound Ribeye, Garlic Shrimp, Pasta Primavera, and Fettucini Alfredo.  Pasta entrees are served with soup, salad, and homemade rolls; other entrees also include vegetables and potato. For lucky fishermen or women, chef Tommy Tomlinson, Gloria’s son, will cook the day’s catch.

Regular dessert selections include Carrot Cake, Chocolate Cake, and a memorable Three Berry Crisp.  Be sure to ask about dessert specials and take a look for yourself in the pastry case.  On the general subject of specials, I recently had a tasty and refreshing Chilled Cantaloupe Soup—a “special” worthy of the name.

Given the consistently high quality of the food, the prices at Don Quixote’s are surprisingly low.  Lunches vary from $3.95 to $7.95; dinners range from $13.95 to $17.95.  Cooking your catch is $9.00.  Photos and detailed descriptions of every lunch and dinner item are posted on the restaurant’s website, Live music has been added recently on most Fridays and Saturdays.
Don Quixote’s is located at 103 Main Street. Regular hours are Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m.  to 9:00 p.m.; closed Monday.  Meeting rooms are available. For information call 870-297-8899.
Don Quixote’s is an active member of the Ozark Gateway Tourist Council and Gloria Gushue one of the organization’s biggest proponents. The regional association promotes and supports tourism in Fulton, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Lawrence, Randolph, Sharp, and Stone counties.   For membership information and to learn more about Ozark Gateway visit or call 1-800-264-0316.