Southern Agenda

Still Cooking

In 1922, Skyline Cafe opened in the tiny railroad town of Mena, in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains along the Talimena National Scenic Byway in western Arkansas. The radio comedians who played the lovable hillbillies Lum and Abner were patrons in the 1940s, and this year the café marks a hundred years of small-town camaraderie. “It’s always been a local hangout,” says Candon Burrell, the owner since 2002. “Regulars are in here starting wars or settling feuds over coffee every morning.” Burrell plastered the walls with historical photos of Mena, and as the chief cook, she cranks out breakfast all day, keeps the salad bar stocked with veggies and deviled eggs, and slices corned beef for a locals’ favorite hash. At the peak of summer, neighbors bring Burrell whatever’s fresh from their gardens, and she fries okra, mixes her signature salsa, and slices tomatoes for sandwiches that taste like the best of both the past and the present.