Smoke on the Water

Written By: 
Ashley Daniels
Photographs by: 
Scott Smallin

Bonfire–A Smokin’ Taqueria fuses Southern barbecue with South of the Border twists

In the pretty little town of Conway, there flows a river with a sublime Riverwalk that lovingly traces the banks. And on that Riverwalk, there was once a restaurant—something the Riverwalk desperately needed, given the waterfront view—until it shut down. And we all waited desperately for a new restaurant to rescue that sad building.

The wait is over, for Bonfire–A Smokin’ Taqueria has recently opened its doors, and they’re doors you should step through to sit down and order a plate in this sweet spot. The blue jean-casual step-sister of the more upscale Rivertown Bistro, Bonfire slaps Southern barbecue and Tex-Mex together and makes it sing.

Indoors, it’s rustic, with wide booths wrapped in snakeskin leather seats. Garage doors flip open at the back of the bar to reveal the shaded patio overlooking the river. For our lunch visit, our server, Cody, wore a smile, and had a gentle demeanor, as we ordered The Trio app: thick poblano cheese, guacamole and salsa surrounded by a pile of crisp tortilla chips. This was just the right start to our meal, as tacos are a heavy presence on the menu—from the standby taco beef to fried catfish, pulled pork and hot dogs. But we went with two sandwiches: one packed with pulled pork, creamy slaw and vinegar pepper sauce and the other with pulled chicken, red slaw, ’Bama white sauce and pickles. Both were tangy and tasty. Sides thankfully aren’t your norm. I chose a succotash blend of limas and corn marinated in cooked bacon and hubby chose the smoked beans. These sides had that slow, home-cookin’-by-mama deliciousness.

Bonfire livens up Conway’s Riverwalk for visitors, boaters or those just walking in the nearby park. It’s a breath of fresh air—one with a hint of barbecue smoke and sass.