The Dust Bowl is the brainchild of The McNellie’s Group, a restaurant group based out of Oklahoma. The Little Rock location is their third such spot and the first venture outside of the Sooner state.
“There are a ton of similarities between Tulsa and Little Rock. The downtown scene that has reasonable lease rates mixed with the close proximity to home-made it a logical spot to expand, ”McNellie group partner Adam Price. “We really had no plans of expanding out, but we fell in love with the downtown here and it seemed like the perfect addition.”
The bowling alley itself is cozy, with just 6 main lanes and two additional that can be reserved as a private room. All of the bowling equipment and lanes were refurbished from old bowling alleys. They also worked in parts of the bar from the American Legion that once occupied the space. It also has karaoke rooms down the hall, for those interested in more than bowling.
Bowling is great and all, but what we really care about here is the food. Suffice to say, it is not your typical canned nacho meat and frozen hot dogs.
On the food menu, there are a number of big winners. The first is their signature onion burger. This is inspired from a famous spot outside of Oklahoma City known as Sid’s Burgers. It is equal parts onion and beef, with the onion blended back inside the beef. It is a thin patty that is then seared well that both provides a great crispness to the patty and caramelizes the onions. It is finished very simple with cheese and mustard. Mayo is available to swap out on request, but even if you are not a mustard on a burger person (I certainly am not), it works well with this burger.
The street tacos (on the appetizer menu) were also a surprising hit. They are very solid tacos, especially from a menu that looks like tacos do not belong. The dust bowl dog was also great. It is topped with cheddar, candied bacon, jalapeno relish, and mayo. It is way spicier than you expect, so be warned, but it is a great dish.
They also jump on the hot chicken bandwagon here in the form of both a hot chicken popper appetizer and a sandwich. The appetizer is essentially chicken nuggets given the hot chicken treatment, then finished the traditional Nashville way with a slice of white bread and pickles. It may be because I ate the hot dog first, but this is not nearly as spicy as expected, so if you are scared of things too hot, this is a nice mild option while keeping a strong seasoning.
Their other big signature item is the Totchios. This is essentially nachos that uses tater tots as a base instead of chips. It would make Napoleon Dynamite proud and is a great fusion of a couple of bowling alley classics.
On the drink side they have a small, but a stable lineup of craft beers. Locally I spotted some Stones Throw and Lost Forty along with a few national crafts. Unique to the Little Rock location, however, are the cocktails. They have a lineup of 8 signature cocktails along with a full bar to make most of the basics. The signatures were good, most are on the lighter side. I tried the “Ice and Rug” which is a pomegranate and vodka-based drink as well as the “Ride the Lightning” which is cognac, Grand Marnier based. Both were well balanced and good for a bowling alley cocktail.
Rock Town Distillery is Arkansas’ first and largest post-prohibition distillery in Arkansas. Their whiskey has won countless awards and is widely regarded as one of the best young whiskies in the country.
Their new SoMa location is open for tours and tastings throughout the week as well as a full bar setup.
German inspired beer hall with a huge selection of draft beers, excellent German food, and one of the best patios in Little Rock.
Originally a Little Rock based food truck, Katmandu expanded the menu greatly with their Conway brick and mortar location. The menu features 30 items and four more variations on their signature Nepalese dumplings—Jhol Momo (soup), Khotay Momo (pan-seared), Deep-Fried Momo, and Chili Momo (stir-fried in a sweet-and-spicy sauce)—this restaurant represents the hopes and dreams of husband-and-wife owners Kyler Nordeck and Saroza Shrestha.
As you walk in the door you will find the space evenly split down the middle with an open kitchen and pizza oven on one side and a large bar on the other. All of the seating is extremely comfortable, they took a lot of care in picking out spots that people want to stick around in. TVs line the bar and are dotted around the restaurant space, making it easy to watch a game or quickly check the digital tap menu.
In the bar there is a strong emphasis on local beers, 16 of the 27 taps are local craft coming mostly from Rebel Kettle, Stone’s Throw, Flyway, Lost Forty, and Bubba Brews. Of the remaining, only 6 are mass market domestics. There are even some gems in here like the very last kegs in the state of Victory Golden Monkey, which pulled out distribution a couple of months ago. They plan to continue to keep some hard to find beers on tap and a heavy craft, and local craft at that, focus with the menu.
Food wise, everything is shaping up very solid. We would expect nothing less out of the rock star crew that they have assembled manage the kitchen. You will find a strong mix of Italian classics, freshly cured meats, and craft pizzas on the menu.
That is a lot of coffee for one little city. The only way to stay ahead in that type of environment is to stand out with something unique, which is exactly what the newest opening, Nexus Coffee, is doing.
For starters, Nexus has partnered with longtime Little Rock roaster Leiva’s Coffee. It makes it essentially the de facto flagship outlet for Leiva’s, something the roaster really needed to showcase their product.
Secondly they are getting very creative with their coffee, the level of creativity is about the closest thing to an Onyx Coffee Lab we are going to get in Little Rock any time soon.
They are the only coffee shop in town using nitro on their cold brew, which creates a rich velvety texture to the coffee. They take it one step further by running other creative coffee based drinks through the nitro system. Currently they are running a chocolate stout coffee that taste very similar to a typical nitro cold brew, but with a good dark chocolate nose. They also are running a blueberry basil that has just a hint of coffee, but is much sweeter and approachable for a non-coffee drinker. It drinks almost like a fruit based tea more than coffee.
“We wanted to bring something a little different than what is found across Little Rock coffee shops,” co-owner Amy Moorehead says. “It is a trend catching on at other coffee shops across the country, but we think we are ahead of the game in Little Rock.”
Along with the nitro cold brew they are also doing creative pairings on the espresso side. They have a double espresso and chocolate that comes with a double espresso shot, seltzer water (palate cleanser), and a couple of pieces of Cocoa Belle dark chocolate to pair with the espresso. The result is a fun and interesting way to enjoy your espresso.
They still offer up the typical coffee shop favorites, all created from their very strong barista staff who have come from some of Little Rock’s best coffee shops. They also feature a good selection of teas, including matcha which I hope catches on well. If you are in the mood for something a little more festive, they have a lineup of local craft beers and wine as well.
On the food side they are offering up a number of options from different partners around town. They also have a small kitchen where they cook a number of fresh items, something that is a welcome addition from all the reheated or microwaved food items of neighboring coffee shops.
The space itself sets itself apart too. Being located in the heart of the tourist area of Clinton Ave it catches an entirely different crowd than neighboring Blue Sail or Zeteo does. The space plays to the crowd well with room for live music in the front of the area that is used at night later in the week. They also have a rentable private conference area, which is a huge addition and I am surprised more coffee shops do not invest in this type of space.
Overall Nexus combines unique coffee with a perfect for the location space. Despite the uptick in coffee, it should thrive in the location and manages to become more than just another coffee option.
The restaurant portion of Heights Corner Market is just to the left of the market as you are facing it. It is a clean, open setting dominated mostly by white tablecloth tables, and a couple of large reclaimed wood pub style tables. Around are photos of family and friends of the owners Eric and Lou Anne Herget. Overall it is a welcoming environment that is great for Heights regulars and people just looking for a night out.
On the menu you will find a Southern themed menu executed by chef Amanda Denys that fills a much needed space for a sophisticated casual to high end dining in the area. Here you will find a strong mix of creative salads, moderately priced southern classics like shrimp and grits and rotisserie chicken, as well as more special occasion geared options like a nice 14oz rib eye and an ahi tuna. On dessert you will find a line of options from chef Amanda Ivy.
The menu items are all executed well, something that makes you appreciate a small menu with around 6 entree options that can all be perfected. They also run frequent specials and rotate some of the entree items around to give extra variety. The most notable part of it all is their use of fresh, local ingredients.
“We pull a lot of our ingredients from the Heights Corner Market, so all the of the produce is fresh and local,” owner Eric Herget says. “It also gives our chef the flexibility to come up with specials using a wide range of ingredients and produce that a normal restaurant this size wouldn’t have access to.”
It shows a lot in the flexibility of the menu. If you wanted to upgrade your rib eye to a cut of their high end Wagyu beef that is in the meat counter, it is something they absolutely can do. It also means if you have a really great cut of salmon for dinner and you want to grab some to take home with you, they can accommodate that as well. It gives the space a very unique feel that you can’t find anywhere else in town.
Herget says it is something they want to continue to leverage more by adding special menu items and unique experiences as the restaurant evolves. One thing he mentioned was adding the option for private dining inside the market itself, something that would give a very unique atmosphere. The space can also be rented out for rehearsal dinners, business meetings, and any other need for a private space. It adds private dining group space that is extremely limited and in high demand in the Heights.
Fans have been clamoring to get inside Hillcrest’s, the deli known as District Fare. Owner Tomas Bohm is excited to open the doors and let the neighborhood in.
Get ready for an all from-scratch menu, including a meat curing program and daily bread provided by Arkansas Fresh. There will also be a District Fare branded Leiva coffee flavor available, as well as wine and beer, permit pending. Bohm also has a vision of offering a board club of sorts, where people can bring their own boards into the shop and get it dressed in charcuterie.
Dizzy’s brings new American style and a gypsy spirit to the River Market district of downtown Little Rock. It is a place that locals and visitors need to visit frequently for a unique experience.
Dizzy’s dishes range from pastas, steaks, burgers, salads,sandwiches, and soups. Most are traditional comfort food dishes with an upscale touch. Each dish is created from scratch using recipes that have won customers over for more than 15 years.
Cheese dip has become the official food of Little Rock, having originated in the city many years ago. Dizzy’s does it best with their multiple World Cheese Dip Championship winning dip. For bonus points you can also get a burger covered in the dip.
Other dishes to not miss are the chicken spaghetti, truffle mac and cheese, and ruben sandwich.
Dizzy’s has a strong lineup of local and regional craft beer selections that rotate frequently to include new brewers and seasonal specials. They also have an excellent wine list and a full bar available all day.
Streetside Creperie features authentic Persian style crepes using heavily locally sourced ingredients.
Legendary BBQ restaurant in Little Rock
The basic BBQ plates reflect the classic nature of the southern staple, they do all the traditional dishes and do them well. The ribs are perfectly cooked, something I came to appreciate after a couple of years of rib competition judging, using their own house made rub. The pulled pork is flavorful and good quality. Everything is fresh daily and they do not reserve meat from previous days, unlike products found in certain other local bbq spots with multiple locations that will remain nameless. If you are just after good bbq it is something that is easy to appreciate, especially as they have moved beyond one location.
The real place Fat Daddy’s sines is when you step away from the traditional bbq offerings, into some of the non-traditional items that Fat Daddy’s has added since buying the original recipes. On the simple side, they have moved to loin-backed ribs, giving their ribs a much more meaty and flavorful offering over traditional cut ribs.
On the other end of the spectrum is their TexMex – bbq fusion style dishes. Their quesadillas and barbeque burritos are some of the best, and most unexpected items on the menu. Each can be filled with any of the available meats.
The burrito in particular is interested, it is filled with the normal bbq plate items such as slaw, beans, and their cheesy potatoes, then wrapped into a burrito. It is not something you would think of in a burrito form, but it works really well, and is one of the more interesting bbq joint dishes I have come across.
Aside from the main dining room, Fat Daddy’s also has a large private dining area available. They also are available for catering around Conway.
Blue Sail’s Technology park location provides them a built in base of customers coming and going from the technology park, plus easy access for others in the general area to walk in from the street. It sits just inside the entrance of the Technology Park, and while the space is shared with the center, it does give them a considerable upgrade in seating compared to their previous expansion in Midtown Conway.
The seating is a good mix of casual and work driven seating. I appreciated the popup power connectors on the pub style tables, often when you sit in the middle of the room you are stranded without any power. This solves that problem. There is additional seating upstairs that coffee goers can use as well.
Blue Sail will cover a typical line of coffee and espresso drinks. For food they will have a few offerings from Honey Pies, Dempsey Bakery, and house made pastries from their Conway location. From Honey Pies they will offer breakfast calzones, which sound amazing, along with their cinnamon rolls and oat bars that are served in the WLR pie shop.
There are two things that I have found make a good coffee shop. Quality of beans and barista training. Blue Sail hits both well.
In your standard black coffee the beans really shine and the quality comes out strong. Blue Sail’s are probably #2 in the state right now, which is saying a lot considering #1 (Onyx) frequently wins national awards. The beans are high quality and I fully expect those to only get better as their roasting program grows.
On the other side for espresso drinks, barista training is critical. There are so many that do not appreciate the science and art behind a good espresso pull. What separates a decent coffee shop from a great coffee shop is taking the time to produce a consistent training program. In reality it needs to be treated like a bar program, with training, guidance, and continuing education. If you have ever had a waitress make you a cocktail at a restaurant you know the quality difference between that and a seasoned bartender. It is the same with coffee.
At the Corner’s family owned and operated spot in Downtown Little Rock brings fresh, house made ingredients to give a modern take on a traditional diner setting.
Open for breakfast and lunch Tuesday-Friday along with Brunch service on Saturday and Sunday, At the Corner fills a unique void in the downtown food market. It is consistently one of the very best breakfast places in the city, and locals rave about their lunch options. On the weekend they take Brunch to another level. In addition to the menu they come up with up to five innovative brunch specials every week.
Everything served is made in house using local ingredients and special collaborations with local providers.
Be sure to keep an eye out for traditional Canadian food dishes. Their executive chef Kamiya Merrick grew up in Ontario and was raised cooking traditional Canadian dishes. Their poutine and Canadian bacon is as close to authentic as you can get without crossing the northern border.
O’Looney’s is not your average liquor store. The team is full of the best wine and spirit experts in the industry. They believe in helping you find the perfect bottle of what you are looking for from their highly curated store.
The staff includes five sommeliers (certified wine experts), more than any other liquor store in the state. Each bottle in O’Looney’s is carefully sourced and selected by the team to meet their quality standards.
Dugans Pub, located at the southern edge of the River Market, combines the best pub food in the city along with an impressive bar.
Unlike most pubs you enter, food is front and center at Dugan’s. The menu mixes American classics along with some of the most authentic Irish dishes you can find in the city. Crowd favorites are the corned beef hash, fish and chips, Guinness chicken, and shepherd’s pie.
No good pub would be complete without a great bar. Dugan’s features a strong lineup of quality craft beers, Irish favorites, and typical domestics. They also include a list Irish inspired cocktails that are a bit on the light and playful side. Finally Dugan’s has one of the best selections of premium Irish whiskey in the city, there are many pours here you cannot get anywhere else.
Most importantly, and rare for Little Rock, Dugan’s is open late. The kitchen is open most nights until midnight while the bar keeps pouring until 2am. Be sure to keep an eye out for live music nights and special watch parties at Dugan’s.
Honey Pies started as a mobile vendor, supplying several markets, food truck meets, and catering gigs. Their recent move to brick and mortar allows them to think beyond the pies they have become known for over the past year. With Honey Pies you will see long list of rotating items like muffins, cookies, brownies, cupcakes, meringue cookies, cream puffs, pastries and more.
In addition Honey Pies has an 8 flavor ice cream dipping cabinet serving Loblolly ice cream, giving a great western location for people who are fans of the Green Corner Store Loblolly spot. The shop also features pour over coffee available and they are working on their own private label using Levia’s coffee.
Stratton’s Market is the perfect stop for a foodie in downtown Little Rock.
The market area features one of the largest selections of locally grown and made food products in the city. You will find always fresh and seasonal veggies, local artisan food products, and more.
Even better, Stratton’s is one of the only locations in the state that has a full liquor selection along with grocery products. They feature a wide variety of craft beer, a very strong wine program, and top quality spirits.
Stratton’s also features Skye’s Little Bistro which offers a good selection of charcuterie boards, sandwiches, and pre-made grab and go products. Everything is made fresh using local ingredients when possible. The menu frequently rotates through seasonal specials depending on the current produce growing season.
Rebel Kettle quickly created a name for themselves in the growing craft beer scene.
On tap you will quickly find a much different set of beers on rotation than other places. They focus on newer style beers like saisons and sours as well as more edgy versions of classics, often blending in fruits and other flavors.
Rebel Kettle keeps a small list of standard beers that includes a cream stout, double brown, IPA, and blonde. Added to that they have a few longer seasonal rotations featuring ales, saisons, stouts, sours, and IPAs. The rest of their 16 tap rotation is small batch, short run beers, the most popular of which sometimes only last a day.
Thursday afternoon often brings a unique beer to tap that is available at 4:30 in the afternoon, these are typically special small batch brews that are a limited release.
From the food side Rebel Kettle has a full service kitchen focusing on delta and cajun inspired dishes. You will find burgers, po boys, wings, and a variety of similar food.
Eggshells is the ultimate shop for foodies. They carry top of the line cookware and kitchen utilities, along with a number of unique gadgets and accessories.
They also feature a growing number of made in Arkansas products including chocolates, sauces, seasonings and more as well as a number of locally made craft goods such as cookie cutters and cutting boards.
Finally do not miss Eggshells’ cooking classes. They feature several each month featuring top chefs and food personalities from around the area. In each class the instructor teaches some of their favorite recipes and cooking techniques and includes take home instructions to continue what you learn.
Bella Vita Jewelry and Gifts is located in the Lafayette Building in downtown Little Rock.
The jewelry and gift store focuses on their handmade jewelry line, Bella Vita Jewelry. The jewelry is made on site in their workshop within the store, and you can often catch new designs being crafted while you browse the store.
In addition to the house brand jewelry, the shop features gift items curated from local and regional featuring hand made, vintage, local, or fair trade items.
Samantha’s offers a huge tap room with over 30 beers and 20 wines on tap. With it you will find a wide variety of local and regional craft beers along with a small selection of mass produced favorites.
While the bar is popular, the food is equally on par with the great bar selection. The kitchen features an open air mesquite wood burning grill that produces some fantastic dishes. For dinner you will find a good selection of grilled items along with sandwiches and tacos.
The lunch menu is a smaller and more price appropriate version of their dinner menu, but also brings in daily specials featuring fresh ingredients. Finally their popular Saturday brunch service offers their full lunch menu along with country style breakfast options, waffles, breakfast sandwiches and more.
Samantha’s also boost one of the best private dining spaces in the city seating up to 40 people.
AW Lin’s brings a modern Chinese, sushi, and Thai restaurant all together for a very unique Asian dining experience.
Each of the Asian cuisine focuses features traditional favorites all prepared with fresh ingredients. Even better are the more modern dishes inspired by the regions such as the honey walnut shrimp. For more of a traditional focus, ask for the traditional Chinese menu, it includes many options not found around town.
Kent Walker Artisan Cheese is a staple of the local food movement. From the cheese shop in downtown Little Rock they produce unique, high quality cheeses you will not find anywhere else.
Annual cheeses include the highly popular habanero cheddar, garlic montasio, goat feta, goat gouda, leicester, and roccina. Keep an eye out for seasonal specials and reserve cheeses. Reserve cheeses are allowed to age for multiple years, and just like a good wine or whiskey, it takes on additional flavor and characteristics.
Inside the shop is a tasting room and bar where you can sample various cheeses or pair them with meat trays using high quality meats. They feature a strong selection of wine and local craft beer on tap, each can be expertly paired with their cheeses. Do not miss the growing selection of local products and gifts in the tasting room, it makes for a one-stop shop on local products.
Finally, do not miss their great events. They often have live music, cheesemaking classes, and special pairings.
The spacious tap room harbors a mixture of wood and industrial elements that ultimately make Flyway feel like an incredibly comfortable, yet funky, modern hangout.
The theme is an ode to the brewery’s name. McMullen says, “Our name comes from the bird migration route … that starts in the corner of Canada and comes down right through the Mississippi.”
Scanning the room you’ll notice round, green tables amidst picnic style wooden options as well as metal high tops. The various metal elements were meant to bring the brewery into the tap room, and the colors were chosen with a specific purpose in mind.
McMullen says, “If you were cruising down the Mississippi in a boat … we wanted to incorporate those colors, with the Earth tones in the floor, we’ve got a winter blue sky in the ceiling,” he explains, “and these tables are actually green because these are our trees … and the chairs are the roots. We want the people to sit down and get rooted.”
Already, the team has three of their four core beers on draft, including – Migrate Pale Ale, Free Range Brown Ale, Shadow Hands Stout – and hope to add the Early Bird IPA soon.
The Migrate is a fruity, hoppy brew which manages to be extremely drinkable. The Free Range Brown is an approachable dark beer with notes of roasted caramel malts, coffee, and a hint of chocolate. Shadow Hands has a dry finish with more hops than your average stout. Foster says, “We were trying for the flavor, and trying to avoid bitterness – that’s what we’re doing with a lot of our beers.”
Don’t miss the Early Bird IPA, which features Centennial Hops. Foster says, “We want it to be one of our best.”
The brewery will offer feathers, their take on beer flights. McMullen’s dad created forty handmade wooden feathers. “No two are the same,” says Foster, as he describes the incredible amount of work his and McMullen’s family put in to help make the brewery a reality.
For food, check out their handmade pretzels, creative nachos, sliders, and their wild game sausages. Also stop by in the morning on the weekends for a rotating brunch menu.
kBird is hands down the most authentic Thai in the city. The restaurant focuses on a variety known as street Thai using fresh ingredients and made from scratch paste.
Owner Richard Glasgow’s rotating menu of regional curries and stir-fries, as well as traditional soups and green papaya salad, keeps customers old and new coming back for more. Every dish is made from scratch, and there is not an afterthought on the menu. Glasgow is a conscientious student of Thai cuisine, honing his skills with annual visits to Thailand.
Capital Bar & Grill (CBG) is the more casual counterpart to One Eleven at the Capital Hotel. CBG focuses on refined southern classics and is a favorite spot for locals. The food here has a loyal following unlike any other place in the city, something rare for a hotel restaurant.
The bar program itself is a pillar of Little Rock. Many of the top mixologists across the state can trace their craft back to CBG’s bar program. It became one of the first in the city to focus heavily on classic cocktails as well as new rifts on favorites.
Zangna Thai Cuisine, located in the Shackleford Crossing Shopping Center, fills a much needed desire for Thai food in Little Rock.
Owner Tammy Kanjanakaset says her family is new to the Little Rock area, having recently left California, but they have been in the restaurant business for over 25 years. Naturally, she’s proud of Zangna’s menu, stating, “We offer authentic, made-to-order Thai food all from fresh ingredients.” She says, “This is a family-owned business,” as Kanjanakaset runs the restaurant alongside her sister, manager Al Leach.
The Thai here is easily some of the best in the city with most traditional Thai dishes that you would expect. Items like their drunken noodles are all made fresh from scratch.
A staple of the historic Hillcrest district since 2001, Ciao Baci brings southern inspired dishes with an upscale twist. Nestled in a turn-of the-century bungalow with a front porch that has become the a favorite patio for many, it is a local favorite and a can’t-miss spot in Little Rock.
The restaurant features seasonal dishes using fresh, often local, ingredients that change out several times a year. The menu is varied enough to satisfy the fine diner with dishes like duck leg confit, and casual enough for others with one of the best hamburgers in town.
Ciao Baci also has a fantastic bar program that changes up the hand crafted cocktails as well with the season. The restaurant also has an amazing wine collection that is carefully curated to pair with the current menus.
Traditional southern comfort foods meet a modern twist at Red Door.
The menu offers a strong mix of grilled meats and steaks steaks, seafood, soups and salads.
Loca Luna has established itself over their long history as one of the most uniquely Little Rock restaurants in the business.
Little Rock always has been a melting pot of flavors from Cajun, BBQ, and traditional southern flavors. Loca Luna takes the best of all and merges them together for something that truly represents the city.
The restaurant has won countless awards over their 30+ year history. Each meal brings a unique element making this one of the few restaurants you can eat all day and have a completely new experience. Brunch is particularly popular, so be sure not to miss it on Saturday and Sunday.
Simple fact: There is no place more loved by the city than The Root Cafe.
The Root Cafe focuses extremely hard on only using the best locally sourced ingredients in all of their southern/soul food dishes. They are one of only very select locations in Little Rock that uses 100% local products and the experience is unlike any other.
On any given breakfast/lunch you will find a small line forming from the door of the small restaurant in the South Main district of Little Rock. It is both a testament to the huge popularity and as well as the very small intimate seating. Whatever you do, do not let the line scare you. Inside you will find some of the best food in the city.
The History of Burge’s Hickory Smoked Turkeys and Hams Alden Burge began smoking turkeys in his backyard smokehouse in Lewisville, Arkansas for friends and family after moving there from Shreveport in 1953. He worked in the local oil fields and soon his co-workers wanted him to smoke turkeys for them too. On Friday nights at his home in Lewisville, he began making barbeque chickens, baked beans and coleslaw and selling it before ball games.
Burge’s is famous for their Smoked Turkey Salad. Simple in appearance but brilliant in taste. Regardless of what you are eating pick up a tub of this before you walk out the door. The rest of the menu consist of a variety of in house smoked meats and other southern favorites.
Bruno’s is an Italian staple for Little Rock, and one of the oldest restaurants in operation in the area.
The restaurant opened in 1949 from an Italian born family that helped introduce pizza to America by opening up one of the first pizzerias in New York and later opened up the first pizzeria on the Loop in Chicago. Jimmy Bruno then brought his Italian cooking influence to Little Rock, setting up the original “Little Italy” location on Levy in North Little Rock.
Over the years Bruno’s Little Italy has seen a number of location changes along with a few closings due to tough economic times, however the Bruno family continues to operate even today. The current location opened in 2013 and helped spearhead the Main Street revival in downtown Little Rock.
Along with their world famous pizzas you will find a number of authentic Italian dishes passed down through generations of the Bruno family. The restaurant features long term employees such as a pasta chef who has been making pasta for the restaurant since 1968. It is hard to find a more dedicated and authentic Italian experience in Little Rock.
Le Pops is known for their hand made popsicles that are often created with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Le Pops is more than just popsicles, in fact if you stop there you are missing some of the best parts to this sweet shop. Get the hand shaved ice when it is in season. They utilize some of the same fresh syrups to flavor the shaved ice that go into the popsicles and it is the very best sno-cone/shaved ice around.
In winter time they bring out even more amazing treats for the colder months. The hot chocolate is the best around, they also use “hot pops” which are essentially popsicles made for the purpose of melting in the chocolate that are completely unique to the area. Don’t pass on the s’mores either, they are a huge winner in winter.
The Southern Gourmasian started life as a highly popular food truck serving the central Arkansas area. Since then they have grown into a Little Rock favorite, launching a full restaurant in 2015.
Southern Gourmasian focuses on Asian dishes “with a southern twist”. Think spicy chicken and dumplings using asian flavors and inspired rice dumplings, or their korean fried chicken which brings traditional fried chicken with a Korean inspired preparation.
- Don’t miss their monthly beer dinner with Stone’s Throw Brewing. The multi course dinner brings some of their most creative dishes and all for a very low price.
- Keep an eye on specials. Their best dishes like Korean Fried Chicken are only run once a week.
- Give dinner a try. They switch from counter ordering to full service at night making it perfect for a date night.
Boulevard Bread Company has been a symbol of quality and excellence for the Little Rock food community since opening its doors some 15 years ago. It represented one of the pioneers of the “Slow Food Movement” in Arkansas, and helped usher in an exciting era within the local food scene…one which supported organic and seasonal eating, with locally-sourced, artisanal products. And despite the numerous restaurants and shops that have follow in its footsteps since, Boulevard continues to distinguish itself by providing consistently great products—some of which can be found nowhere else in Arkansas.
In 2015 Boulevard Bread transformed their Heights location into Boulevard Bistro and Bar. The new space features a full service restaurant alongside their traditional sandwich shop model.
The Bistro menu is focused on classic French-European dishes such as Coq a Vin and pasta alla Bolognese, as well as house-made charcuterie like duck rillette and country pork terrine. On the starters side you’ll see things like arancini di riso (fried risotto with harissa), cinnamon-clove cured Falling Sky pork belly confit, and brown sugar-glazed smoked salmon with orange creme fraiche. Entrees will bring steak frites, Parisian-style gnocchi with mushrooms and truffles cream, and a bone-in pan-roasted pork chop.
In the sandwich shop side you will find a strong selection of salads, soups, and fresh sandwiches using their famous house made bread. Sandwiches include hot and deli style selections using locally sourced meats and vegetables.
Table 28 brings one of the most creative dining experiences Little Rock has to offer, all in a newly renovated setting.
Chef Scott Rains creates cutting edge dishes, often from southern classics. Table 28 has quickly become one of the best date night or special occasion spots in Little Rock, however with the heavy focus on sharable dishes, it is great for any night out.
Café Bossa Nova was founded in March 2002 by Rosalia and Dan Monroe. Rosalia, using the recipes she carried in her heart from her native Brazil, and with the support of her beloved family the restaurant was born. Rosalia started serving lunch to a curious crowd who immediately acquired a taste for her now famous cheese bread and black beans and rice. In response to growing demand, she began serving dinner as well. Café Bossa Nova guarantees good food with a Brazilian accent at reasonable prices.
A fashion restaurant bringing a Japanese cuisine together with traditional American flavors should be no surprise from the group that also owns the best steakhouse and one of the best seafood restaurants in town.
The result however is a surprise. Kemuri is often proclaimed as one of the best restaurants in Little Rock. The dishes are always full of flavor and exciting. Their new takes on Asian traditions like pad thai and drunken noodles are not to be missed. The robata section of the menu is especially good. Think Japanese inspired small plates slow cooked to perfection.
You are missing out if you only going in here trying the Asian dishes however. Try the more traditional dishes like the rack of lamb, roasted chicken, or beef tenderloin for brilliant Asian-fusion takes.
It is hard to talk Kemuri and not talk about the sushi. The menu is designed by Chef Alex, easily identified as the best sushi Chef in Little Rock. The menu contains traditional rolls along with rolls specifically designed for the restaurant and setting. If you really want the best sushi from Kemuri however, opt for the Alex’s special roll. These rolls are designed to order with your taste and preferences in mind. No two rolls are ever alike and always fantastic.
Stepping into the Pantry is like stepping into a different world. You’re greeted with a warm ambiance, as well as delicious aromas from the Czech and German Classics that headline the menu.
The flagship location opened its doors in 2009 with owner Tomas Bohm at the helm. The eatery is the perfect place for a date night, food with friends and family, and has even become a drink destination in the past couple of years.
One of the best things about the spot is the consistency. Ever since opening their doors to foodies, the food coming out of the kitchen has been top-notch. The bar program has grown as well, including an original cocktail menu and a fair mix of European beers alongside local and regional craft options.
When perusing the menu, be sure to try out dishes that include Hungarian Sausage and Bratwurst – as they’re housemade. Start with the locally well-sought-after Truffle Deviled Eggs or Bacon Wrapped Dates. You also can’t go wrong with the charcuterie, which includes pates made in-house and a fine selection of cheese and pickled offerings.
The eatery keeps their kitchen open a little later – so you can catch good food after seeing that concert or going to an event. Catch lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and dinner on Monday through Saturday from 4 p.m. until midnight. The bar is a great place to hang even a little after midnight if you’re just wanting a night cap.
You’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in Rock City like The Pantry. Head to 11401 N. Rodney Parham Rd. to get a taste of what you’re missing.Additional Location
The Pantry Crest, The Pantry’s newest Hillcrest location, opened its doors in 2014. While you still get those delicious aromas from Czech and German food greeting you upon entry, you’re also met with a more hip, laid-back atmosphere.
Tomas Bohm opened the second location to not only meet demand, but also provide a suave place for drinks and eats. The eatery is the best place to meet friends or go on date as well as celebrate a milestone. If you’ve just seen a show at The Rep or taken in a concert, chances are you’ll still be able to grab a bite.
One of the best things about the spot is the consistency. Ever since opening their doors to foodies, the food coming out of the kitchen has been top-notch. The bar program has always been topnotch, including an original cocktail menu along with a fair mix of European beers alongside local and regional craft options.
When perusing the menu, be sure to try out dishes that include Hungarian Sausage and Bratwurst – as they’re housemade. Start with the locally well-sought-after Truffle Deviled Eggs or Bacon Wrapped Dates. You also can’t go wrong with the charcuterie, which includes pates made in-house and a fine selection of cheese and pickled offerings.
You’d be hard to find anywhere else in Rock City that offers such genuinely delicious cuisine items. The Crest doesn’t offer lunch, but is open Monday through Saturday from 4 p.m. until Midnight with the bar often open even later.
Head to 722 N. Palm Street to check it out.Additional Location
In 2012 a trip to the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market would have guaranteed a stop at the Mylo Coffee Co. tent. Husband and wife team Stephanos and Monica Mylonas would prepare pastries, quiches and tarts reminiscent of a European fresh bread market and artfully lay them out to sale. They were also one of the first coffee operations in Rock City to offer pour over coffee, and needless to say, on market days their coffee and pastries sold out fast.
Mylo now has a Hillcrest brick-and-mortar location, which is a hip, stylish mecca for all things pastry and caffeine. The space is full of natural line and clean lines, and if you move through the shop you’ll notice a pen-and-ink mural of Hillcrest on a white backdrop. The space has mixed seating throughout, which makes the shop feel more European and cozy.
The offerings are piled behind a glass divider where the line to order begins. You can watch the barista create latte art while you wait in line.
Grab a delicious cold-brew or opt for a French press coffee, or chose the classic method that got Mylo its started – the pour over.
Much like their market days, Mylo has a tendency to sell out of breakfast items fast, such as the fan-favorite Kougin Amann, a flakey puff pastry with various fillings such as fresh fruit and chocolate. The shop also offers lunch items – usually a sandwich on house made bread or a fresh, local salad.
Nestled in Argenta, Ristorante Capeo tops the list as one of the best Italian eateries in Central Arkansas. Chefs Brian and Eric Isaac trace cooking back to their childhood, when they began to cook for their family. However, this passion would turn into a professional venture when Eric trained at the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners in Costigliole d’ Asti, Italy.
Capeo has been a staple in the food scene for many years, and it’s well worth your time. Think classy night out paired with pasta and wine, and you’ve hit the mark.
Upon entering you’ll be welcomed into a dimmed interior, both cozy and comfortable, with a hint of magical romanticism. The space is perfect for a quiet date or a night with close friends and family.
Watch the careful food preparation from the open kitchen whilst grabbing a drink at the bar. As you find your table you can expect superb service, with a staff that knows excellent how to guide you through a choice bottle of wine or an entrée.
If Neapolitan style pizza is more your speed than pasta, check out Capeo’s lunch offerings, as they now have a wood burning oven. The pizza menu is comprised of 13 options, including margarita, prosciutto d’parma, sausage, and bianco, just to name a few.
A little hidden joint that happens to be one of the best “authentic” Mexican restaurants in town…El Palenque. Those who know, go..and go often.
Go for their big, fat, deep fried chimichanga with cheese sauce or their fabulous tacos arrieros, shrimp burrito, chile rellenos, or tortilla soup. El Palenque is cranking out some seriously stellar food.
You can go to Layla’s for years and never leave their traditional Greek menu (I did). Their gyro meat is the best in town. Always fresh with just the right amount of crisp and moisture. The gyro plate comes with one pita, a pile of gyro meat, salad, taziki sauce, and onions. It is easily enough gyro meat to make another meal or two. The chicken shawarma meat is also notable and perfectly seasoned. The yogurt plate with either the gyro meat or shawarma chicken is a great way to mix the original plates up.
The unexpected portion of the menu comes from the pizzeria section. The two main options are calzones and pizza. The gyro meat calzone takes the same meat served on the plate, but cut into thick cubes along with mozzarella cheese and stuffed inside the calzone. The result has become one of our favorite dishes at Layla’s. It is also hard to go wrong with the cheese pizza, which has the best flavor for a cheese pizza that we have tasted in the city.
The small and sparse location is what keeps this place under the radar. The food however is the best Mediterranean we have ate in the city with unexpected surprises coming on the pizzeria section. Dining in for the first time a visitor is often pleasantly surprised with the food quality coming from such an unassuming place. The menu items are very well priced, often being cheaper to go eat for two than eating alone at many other lunch spots. They do accept call in orders, and because of the fast service and high quality this is a place I pick up orders from 2-3 times a month.
If you’d rather have your pizza and beer next to picturesque views of the river, check out local pizza empire Damgoode Pie’s in-house line of Damgoode Brews in the River Market. It combines the quality pizza you know and love from Damgoode with quality inhouse beer.
Check out the following brews:
The Red Ribbon comes in at 4.5 percent ABV with a cheeky, “almost won the blue ribbon” description. The Ribbon is a fairly gentle drink, which would pair perfectly with any pizza topping choice, anchovies included.
The Pale Ale is one smooth drink. At 5.5 percent ABV, it’s perfect for cooling off from the Arkansas heat.
The Slam Dunkel, a darker wheat beer, is the way to go if you are craving a brew that harbors a hint of sweetness. The beer has a velvet-like consistency, and at 5.2 percent ABV it’s the perfect solution to a long day.
Don’t forget to try the quick service slice bar. The eatery is open Monday – Thursday 10:30 am to 10 pm, Friday – Saturday 10:30 am to 11 pm, and Sunday 10:30 am to 10 pm.
One of the first in Little Rock’s brewing scene, Vino’s knows what a beautiful combination pizza and beer is. If you want handcrafted ales with your pizza or calzone, head to this restaurant on 7th Street. While you’re there, you’re likely to catch a quirky art or music show in the backroom. Vino’s mainstays include, among others:
The Firehouse Pale Ale is a medium-bodied amber ale, more suited for the beer enthusiast who wants that slight fruit taste accompanying their hops.
Try the 6 Bridges Cream Ale if you want something that is golden and light-bodied with the tiniest hop aroma.
The Lazyboy Stout is a great dark beer without that bitter aftertaste. The chocolate flavor is not overwhelming, making this a velvety, medium-bodied brew.
Vino’s is open Sunday – Thursday from 11 am to 11 pm, and Friday and Saturday from 11 am to midnight. Growler sales are offered at the brewery, as well.
This nano brewery located in the River Market district is run by three friendly beer lovers – Patrick and Ida Cowan and Laura BerryHall. The space is small, but decked from ceiling to floor with rustic touches, including three TVs and a foosball table – making it feel cozy like a friend’s game room.
Blue Canoe does not plan on distributing, and wants to keep their operation small. They want to get to know you by name and it’s hard not to when you sidle up along the bar to order a drink. If you stay long enough you’ll definitely make a friend or two.
The Razorback Rye IPA is incredibly smooth for a drink of its stature, and at 7.5 percent ABV it comes with a full-rye punch.
The American Wheat is a little heavier than most wheats in that it packs a fuller flavor. At 6 percent ABV the drink is a blend of red and white wheat, making it a flexible, easy-to-drink beer.
Don’t forgo the Whittler, a Milk Stout. With 6.5 percent alcohol, the brew is sweet and great for someone who might not be a big beer drinker. It doesn’t finish with the bitterness most sweeter stouts have, and is a treat for afternoon-sipping.
Also, be sure to check out the Pinnacle Blossom Wit, if it’s on tap, as it’s brewed with fresh-picked honeysuckle blossoms from local Pinnacle Mountain. Plus, Blue Canoe is probably the only brewery that is dog friendly. Located on 425 East 3rd Street, the brewery is open Thursdays from 5 to 9 pm, Fridays from 5 to 10 pm, Saturdays from noon to 10 pm, and Sundays from noon to 8 p.m
The state’s long standing king of craft brew, Diamond Bear, opened their expanded tap room in North Little Rock in 2013. The new Arkansas Ale House moves all brewing operations to NLR with a drastically expanded tap room. Along with most all their in season beers on tap, there is a strong food menu offering. Check out some of the brews:
The Pale Ale pairs an earthy malt against bright hops, making it highly drinkable, even at 6.2 percent ABV.
The Dogtown Brown, a tribute to North Little Rock, is a sweetly smooth brown ale that many locals call their favorite.
The Presidential IPA comes with big hops and barley malt goodness. It’s rumored to have been a former president’s favorite brew.
Seasonal favorites include the Strawberry Blonde, a light colored crisp German lager infused with real strawberries, and Rocktoberfest, a delectable brew made in the classic Marzen/Oktoberfest style.
You can additionally find Diamond Bear beer on tap at a large number of restaurants and bars throughout the city, and if you want a growler, The Alehouse provides that service. Visit Diamond Bear on 600 North Broadway in North Little Rock, on Tuesday – Sunday 11 am to 9 pm, and until 10 pm on Friday and Saturday. The Alehouse is closed Mondays.
Calling the historic MacArthur Park District home, Stone’s Throw is a pioneer in Little Rock’s brewing scene. The brewery opened their doors in late 2012, and operates as a collaboration between four home brewers who have separate day-jobs. Their taps constantly rotate with fresh, funky brews you are not likely to see anywhere else.
The indoor space is small, and reminiscent of a minimalist European tavern, typically full of downtown dwellers. Head outside the tap room, however, and you’re likely to find a food truck and a cozy seat on the biergarten. Check out the following beer staples you’re likely to find on tap:
The Amadeus Vienna Lager is an excellent choice, and comes with an ‘elegant complexity’ finishing with just enough hops to balance the overall taste.
If you’d like a darker drink, try the Shamus Stout, a take on the classic oatmeal stout. Silky, smooth, and rounded out with just the right amount of malt and coffee notes shining through.
The Petit Jean Pear Cider is a great refreshing option without the overwhelming sweetness you find in most national brands.
Finally, the Common Sense is a great choice that is still on the lighter side. The California Common style brew is 5% ABV with just the right blend of hops to produce a beer for any occasion.
Stone’s Throw offers growler sales, and you can also catch their brews at local restaurants and liquor stores. Check here for an updated list. Head to 402 East Ninth Street to visit the tap room.Where to Find Stone’s Throw
In the heart of Little Rock’s River Market, Cache is the definition of elegant. Local father and son team Rush and Payne Harding have created an urbane dining experience centered on fine ingredients and a posh atmosphere. At Cache, details are key, and everything from plating to service matters.
Chef Harding trained at the Culinary Institute of America based in New York, where he learned the importance of engaging his audience. Thus, a huge, open-air kitchen takes center stage, inviting guests to watch as their dishes come to life. Whether you sit beneath the twinkling modern lights or alongside the sleek, minimalist bar, you’re guaranteed a good view. Also, if the weather’s nice, Cache has some of the best patio space in town. Sit back, grab a creative cocktail from the excellent drink menu, and watch the River Market’s activity from your vantage point.
The culinary offerings are creative and wide-spread, as Harding wanted to offer a unique menu. If you want pizza or pasta, or if you can’t chose between fish, duck, or something a little more red, you can expect it to be on the menu at Cache – served up with a flavorful twist. Try Harding’s take on the Southern favorite Shrimp and Grits, or get serious with the Maple Glazed Pork Chop.
Don’t count Cache out for lunch. Whether you’re feeling hungry after a day of River Market exploration, or need the perfect backdrop for a business meeting, Cache has open doors to those craving good food.
- Head upstairs: Cache has one of the best bars for slow sipping in the city. Bonus points if the weather is nice enough to sit on the patio.
- Use the valet service: No doubt about it, Rivermarket parking is awful. Cache offers free valet and it is worth every penny (especially since it is free, as opposed to nearby deck parking). Because of traffic in the Rivermarket it sometimes takes a minute for your car to return, so grab a drink after you hand over your valet ticket.
Baja Grill combines Cali-Mex with a little southern flair for a very unique experience unlike any other in town.
Baja items come in either taco, burrito, or quesadilla form giving each dish a slightly different tone depending on how you order it. The flavor combos here are the big winner. You can go traditional Cali-mex with dishes like the blacken shrimp, mahi-mahi, or cuban.
The real experience comes with fusion dishes like the Woo Pig Sooie, which features slow roasted pork, bbq sauce, and southern style slaw. Also try the Honey Chipotle, which is similar except for a sweet and spicy honey chipotle sauce covering the dish.
- Go Naked: You can get anything “naked”, which is essentially a burrito without the tortilla. These make for some very great dishes on a bed of rice.
- Triple Dip: If you are eating with 3-6 people, go for the triple dipper. It is bowls of salsa, guacamole, and cheese dip, all for just a tiny more than ordering any one of them individually.
Loblolly Creamery is known across the city for their locally produced ice cream that you can find it in a number of restaurants, grocery stores, and in their new home base at the scoop shop on South Main.
Loblolly often uses locally sourced ingredients in their all natural ice cream that is produced in Little Rock. Their loyal following comes for incredibly smooth textures, natural ingredients, and special flavor combinations.
Fan favorites are the double vanilla and salted caramel, but some of their best comes from collaborations with local brewers for beer infused ice cream. Loblolly also makes their own baked goods that pair well with the ice creams in special sundaes that rotate seasonally. They are also known for their hot chocolate during winter months as well as house made sodas.
Raduno Brick Oven & Barroom is handcrafted at every turn. From neapolitan pizzas using local ingredients to the extensive selection of craft beer, Raduno is a must stop in the South Main area.
A large part of the philosophy behind Raduno’s involves local ingredients wherever possible, with rotating specials to match the changing seasons. They are sourcing both domestic and imported Italian meats and cheeses. Expect meats from Hillcrest Artisan Meats, vegetables, herbs, and fruits from Dunbar Gardens, and gelato from Loblolly Creamery.
Menu favorites include the “HAMcetta” with H.A.M’s pancetta, smoked chiles, soft farm eggs, and pecorino. There’s the “Funghi” with an assortment of wild mushrooms, caramelized onions, spinach, and olive oil. The “Salsiccia” features housemade fennel sausage, peppadew, mozzarella, and pomodoro. And there’s more to Piro than just pizza. A number of sandwiches will be available featuring breads from Boulevard Bread Co…be sure to look for the fried mortadella sandwich with black truffle and fried egg. The burrata, which is a ball of mozzarella and cream drizzled with balsamic and served with bread, is something to be sure you do not over look.
It is hard to ignore the nearly restaurant length bar. The bar program is going to be as focused as the food. It features a full service bar with a number of craft cocktails. The beer and wine selection is carefully curaited with one of the best craft beer lineups of any place in town.Restaurant News
If you love margaritas, mules, and motorcycles, you’ll want to stop by The Fold. The taqueria and cocktail bar is a Riverdale fixture in a renovated 1950s gas station – hence the motorcycles. The restaurant features botanas, small plates or snacks, as well as a killer drink menu.
The funky modern light fixtures and various succulents throughout the white and green space feel open, and chill, especially when the weather permits opening the windows. The space naturally spills onto a tight patio in which you’ll often spot the in-crowd sipping the night’s special.
There’s a bit of nostalgia throughout in the photographs, the coca cola bottles, as well as the overall vibe. Families and young people flock here, enjoying one of Little Rock’s most unique atmospheres.
Try the queso flameado, which of course, lights up your table. Fun offerings include a Bison Burrito as well as a few vegetarian/vegan options. There is a wide selection of tacos, salads, soups, sandwiches, and burritos, ensuring a little something for everyone. Perhaps one of the best dishes, the churros are top-notch, so don’t skimp on dessert.
Have fun with your margarita and try it in a variety of flavors, from cranberry to black cherry and even blood orange. The mule is also worth a try here, The Fold’s take on the classic featuring mezcal, lime juice, agave nectar and ginger beer.
Come for the atmosphere and stay for the drinks and tacos, and you’re bound to have a good time.Restaurant News
If you want a side of local history with your tacos, visiting Heights Taco & Tamale is your best bet. For nearly 60 years, Browning’s Mexican Restaurant occupied the Kavanaugh location in the Heights, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Little Rock, and while the food wasn’t necessarily the selling point, locals felt at home there.
Yellow Rocket Concepts has unleashed Heights Taco & Tamale in a way that subtly captures that local pride while serving up food in a trendy, versatile atmosphere. The space is hip and unique with touches of nostalgia in the large marquee on the far wall, as well as bits of modernity from the colorful light fixtures to the scripted ‘Hola’ along an accent wall.
Check out the patio fully equipped with bar stools and shared elbow room. It’s the place to be on nice evenings, sipping a drink and watching passers-by.
The menu is a combination of Arkansas roots – think the Delta, with a bit of Tex-Mex thrown in. Come hungry and start with dip, as you’ll have a wide variety of salsas to choose from. Have fun choosing from the seven different taco options or properly dressing up your tamales with cheese dip or chili.
The drink menu comes from a local legend, Lee Edwards, who also develop drink menus for past Yellow Rocket restaurants. The offerings are extremely light and drinkable, perfect for the patio. The Whiskey Fix is an excellent choice but the frozen Mojito is a bit of a local go-to drink.Restaurant News
One of Little Rock’s culinary institutions, Trio’s Restaurant dates back to 1986, when it was a ‘grab-and-go’ sandwich shop. Today the eatery is a dine-in mecca, elegantly comfortable, and ideal for catching up with old friends, hosting a celebration, or simply catching a good meal.
Chef/Co-Owner Capi Peck grew up immersed in the hospitality industry, and claims that keeping the customer feeling at home is the secret to her success. And, with 30 years behind its name, Trio’s does it right by offering excellent service paired with consistency that keeps customers coming back for more.
Located within Pavilion in the Park, the patio is the first thing you’ll notice about the restaurant, with various plants and greens that Chef Peck tends to herself. Upon entering you’ll feel at home in the open seating plan beneath classy lights.
Trio’s offers a wide variety of service from lunch and dinner to brunch on Sunday, as well as catering. The restaurant’s food philosophy relies on seasonal dishes and seasonal produce. Chefs Capi and Brent often head to the markets themselves to chose the best local offerings to build their dishes.
Locals flock to the shrimp enchiladas, a delicious combination of cheese with jalapeno-spiked cream and chipotle pepper sauces served alongside black beans and jalapeno rice. Don’t skip the salads, as you’re liable to catch a seasonal one, such as their current Grilled Chicken and Watermelon Salad, featuring local watermelon and cherry tomatoes alongside feta cheese.
For a solid dining experience, give Trio’s a try, you won’t leave hungry.Restaurant News
Lost Forty opened in late 2014 and rapidly has grown to become the largest craft beer producer in the state.
The brewery features an on-site brew tap room featuring all of Lost Forty’s beers, several options not found in their retail cans. Retail cans and growler fills are available from inside the tap room.
Don’t stop at the beer in Lost Forty however. The brewery is the brainchild of the city’s largest restaurant group, Yellow Rocket Concepts, so the food here is on equal footing with the bar. The food menu includes beer pairings with each item to help keep your drink and food in harmony.
- Head in on late Monday afternoons when they tap special limited runs called Fresh Cut Mondays. These small batch brews are always unique and gives the brewery a way to introduce beer that may not work for a large production run.
- Get here early. While the tap room has seating for 70 or so, it fills up fast. Popular nights are often standing room only.
Local Lime features flavor-packed dishes inspired by Mexican street fare, Latin American flavors with a hint of Tex-Mex flare and delicious handcrafted cocktails made with premium tequila, mezcal, and juices. Each menu item served at Local Lime is hand crafted from scratch using original recipes and prepared with premium ingredients (sourced locally whenever possible). Every cocktail at Local Lime is hand crafted with just-squeezed juices, house-made syrups, and premium tequilas and liquors.
Local Lime focuses on Cali-Mex and southern mexican flavors as opposed to the typical tex-mex that you find in Little Rock. The result is fresh, vibrant dishes that are a nice change of pace from others in the area.
- The patio is great all the time: They heat the patio area in the winter, cool it in the summer, and leave it open in fall and spring. Do not worry about the weather outside when deciding where to sit.
- Get the boozy desserts, just not for the kids: The Rum Tres Leches is one of the best desserts in town, but it is strong. Keep this one for the adults to enjoy.
The age old question, pizza or salad, can be hard to tackle on an empty stomach, but if you’re struggling with it, Zaza’s Fine Salad & Wood Oven might be the answer. Crispy crusts from a wood oven topped with locally fresh ingredients make pizza a must, but it’s hard to turn down fresh, made-to-order salads with house made dressing.
Do what the regulars do and get both, and you can’t go wrong.
A product of Little Rock’s Yellow Rocket Concepts, a restaurant principal partnership, Zaza’s has been a staple in the culinary scene for over five years. Nestled in the Heights, the interior sports a wall of wood which fires the ovens, as well as touches of bright green spanning two levels. Harboring a casual, lad-back vibe, the eatery sees a lot of family traffic, but also serves as one of the most popular lunch destinations for business meetings.
With over 60 ingredients to chose from, you can build your own pizza or salad that you’re sure to love. The menu plays with flavor combinations across the board. If you want pizza you’ll have choices spanning the Classic Cheese to the Zapreme, Zaza’s take on a supreme, with everything in between. Salads are just as complex featuring a range from an Asian ginger twist to Wood-Oven Roasted Steak.
Seasonal salads are also featured frequently, thanks to partnerships with local farms.
Don’t forget dessert – Zaza’s exhibits freshly made in-house gelato to top off any meal. Although flavors change, the consistency is there – it’s delicious.
Quality wood oven pizzas using fresh ingredients makes the Pizzeria arguably the best pizza in Little Rock.
The Pizzeria recently completed a move down the road a few spots into a newly renovated location. It features some of the best pizza and cocktails in town along with a rentable party room and game room for the kids.
The pizza is crisped to perfection in their high temperature Mario Acunto wood oven featuring a good mix of traditional and innovative toppings and sauces.
- Night Owls: The bar is open late (12 or later on Fri/Sat). Stop in for a night cap.
- Closer than you expect to downtown: Being on the edge of the heights, it is just about a 5-10 minute drive from downtown to the pizzeria.
When you’ve got a craving for a burger and fries, you can both eat like a local and satiate your palate at Big Orange. Plus, you can wash it all down with the perfect draft beer or an original house cocktail, both excellent choices to complement Big Orange’s creative menu.
The brainchild of local restaurant partnership Yellow Rocket Concepts, Big Orange is a place to be-and-be-seen. The space harbors an aesthetic reminiscent of the diner era, with a modern twist. The festive, bright orange decor makes either location a pleasant backdrop for a family dinner, date night, or friend outing.
The menu offers everything you could want with your burger, including a mushroom option, as well as a fried, local egg, and even spicy pimento cheese. The Truffle-Garlic-Herb Fries have made a stir in the local food scene, and the creative shakes – both boozy and non – are primo dessert options. If you crave a lighter option, the salads on the menu are top-choice.
Don’t forget the drinks. If your pulse quickens at the thought of delicious cocktails, Big Orange has you covered. Initially created by Lee Edwards, a local bartending legend, the drinks span the gamut, including the vodka-based, house-signature cocktail The Velvet Orange.
If beer is more your speed, there’s few other local eateries that have such a varied draft beer list showcasing the best of local craft brews, as well as bringing in offerings from all over the US.
Heritage Grille offers everything for the fine diner, casual eater, and business lunch visitor. The convenient location inside Little Rock’s flagship hotel makes it a perfect stop.
Heritage Grille is becoming a popular spot for both locals and visitors. The restaurant offers free valet parking (get your pass stamped at the hostess desk) that helps ease the burden of parking downtown during busy periods.
The new tapas bar is perfect for business lunches. Each item on the daily menu is carefully prepared and presented, and available to grab at your discretion making lunch work on your meeting schedule. At only $14 for unlimited trips to the tapas bar, it will keep you within your budget as well. A full menu is also available for those looking for a more traditional experience.
Dinner turns to fine dining with a strong menu of seafood and steak. The restaurant features a high quality bar with custom cocktails available at any time.Restaurant News
Mugs Cafe opened in 2013 and quickly became the central hub for downtown. On any given day you will find political leaders, entrepreneurs, and the local minor league baseball team taking up the locally crafted reclaimed wood tables. It typically only takes one visit to Mugs for it to become your favorite coffee shop.
Coffee at Mugs is the natural draw, but Mugs also holds one of the best coffee shop food menus in the area. You can pick a breakfast taco from the all day breakfast menu, or grab a 1/2 pound burger or smoked turkey club.
The real hot spot for Mugs is Saturday mornings with the all you can eat pancake breakfast, which features a special pancake or two every Saturday until supplies run out. Get there early though because there is quickly a line out the door.Restaurant News
When you’re craving a taste of New Orleans in Rock City, Faded Rose comes out on top. The restaurant has made a name for itself in the food scene, serving locals Creole comfort food sine 1982.
Since day one, not much has changed about the eatery except a few improvements to the patio. Every day the goal is to offer better service than the one before, and to consistently put out delicious Cajun food.
Which comes easily to New Orleans native Chef/Co-Owner Ed David. These days, David shares the stage with his son, Zac Co-Owner/General Manager. The family atmosphere pervades the front and back of the house, and upon entering the establishment you’re met with a loud, happy bout of chatter from the numerous families you’re likely to find seating at the various tables, enjoying their meal.
The patio is likely to be just as boisterous, as it’s now a haven for outdoor seekers when great weather strikes. Sip Abita on draft beneath an umbrella, and watch the traffic mosey by.
Don’t forget to bring your appetite. Known for serving up an excellent steak dinner, the Faded Rose has a mean gumbo in its arsenal, as well as an excellent soaked salad. Locals will tell you, if you catch the restaurant at the right time of year, you might even catch a delicious restaurant-wide crawfish boil. Around March, the eatery is likely to serve up a boil one day a week – typically Wednesday – serving the spicy mudbugs until they run out.Restaurant News
Three Fold features authentic Chinese Noodles and Dumplings in a fast casual atmosphere.
Three Fold opened in late 2014 and quickly became a city favorite. Owner and chef Lisa Zhang brings her history of cooking authentic Chinese that is full of flavor while offering a quick meal at a very reasonable price.
Three Fold offers three primary menu options (dumplings, noodles, and steamed buns) with three primary filling options (chicken, pork, and vegetarian). Other menu items include taro chips, sesame seed balls, and fresh made slaw.
Three Fold is also available for large catering and can plan a special off menu meal for groups.Restaurant News
South on Main brings contemporary takes on traditional southern dishes.
South on Main, which opened in 2013, has continued to impress as one of the city’s premier food destinations. Chef/Owner Matthew Bell and staff come from a number of award winning restaurants before starting South on Main and the experience shows. South on Main also boost our favorite restaurant bar in the city led by bar director David Burnette.
For lunch expect a variety of sandwiches, salads, soup, and light entrees. Dinner brings a full menu of seasonal entrees using local ingredients. New to the mix is Sunday brunch which has already become one of the top brunch locations across the city.
Insider tip: Keep an eye out for the music schedule at South on Main. A unique partnership with Oxford American brings local artists every Wednesday night as a part of their Local Live program. Other fantastic music acts frequently grace the stage other times of the week.Restaurant News