For all my affinity for Stoby's of Russellville, I have to admit I'd never been to the sister restaurant in Conway until recently. Honestly, I have always been a little nervous about the Conway location. It isn't that I thought the food wouldn't live up to expectations, and it isn't that I thought I'd have a bad experience. It is because Stoby's Russellville has such an original vibe/look that, in my mind, I felt like any other Stoby's just wouldn't have the same je ne 'est quoi.
The memories from being a long-time Stoby's of Russellville customer and employee don't make it easy to accept something other than "my Stoby's" as Stoby's. So much of my college (and grad school) life was centered around the restaurant. I was there very nearly every breakfast and lunch during the week and every dinner on Saturday night for a long time. I bonded with several of my dearest life-long friends in that train car on D street. One of those friends even officiated my wedding fifteen years later. As you can see, that train car and depot mean a lot to me. A lot more than a bowl of cheese dip and a pita sandwich ever could.
All of that said, one of the great things about food is that it has the distinct ability to bring a wave of memory and nostalgia with a single bite: One single bite of tortilla chip dipped in Stoby's Cheese dip.
Just like that, I was "home again" back to a time when life was more simple and the future was wide open.
I'm happy to say that I'm now almost as big of a fan of Stoby's Conway as of Stoby's Russellville. The recently revamped Conway location (it had been destroyed in a fire in 2015) does the food to the same specs as Russvegas with the same friendly, quick service. Over the course of my two weeks in Conway, I had my go to Stoby Sandwich (with turkey, summer sausage, salami, Cheddar, and Pepper Jack in a pita), the Philly cheese-steak (a more recent addition to the menu but absolutely delicious), and a Petit Jean pepper bacon burger. I also got to check out the nachos, and they looked amazing.
I'm debating to go with nachos or back to the Stoby Sandwich for my next visit. But what about the pita taco? It has been far too long since I've had a pita taco. The decisions!!!!
From my visits to the Conway location, the pepper bacon burger was my least favorite meal. While technically sound with a thick patty, fresh bun, and delicious Pettit Jean pepper bacon, the burger just didn't quite live up to the Philly or the Stoby. This is one of those times when nothing is wrong with the dish, but it just isn't on the same level. And that level is high.
The Stoby, like I mentioned before, is a classic. It is the sandwich that launched the business. Three meats of your choice, two cheeses cheeses of your choice, lettuce, tomato, Stoby sauce, and your choice of bread. Basically you build your own sandwich to your specifications. Want all turkey and American? Do all turkey and American.
The Stoby's Philly is my favorite cheesesteak of all time. Served with onions and peppers (of course) and topped with the spicy white version of Stoby's cheese dip and a side of crispy fries, the Philly is a hot, ooey gooey cheese and meat mess stuffed inside a soft bun. So good.
The Conway location is at 805 Donaghey Ave, Conway, AR 72034
David Thornton is a two time national award winning writer, chef, husband, father, and fitness enthusiast.