This is the South … and we certainly know a thing or two about damn good fried food. And while I am constantly trying to decrease my grease intake, there’s just no denying all the wonderful options we have right here in Little Rock.
So I decided to come up with a list of my 15 Noteworthy Fried Foods in our town. Are they the best? Maybe … maybe not. But because this is such a broad category and there are so many dishes I’ve yet to try, I’m hesitant to make this a “Best Of” list.
Enough with the semantics … let’s get to it!
K Hall & Son’s Fried Pork Chop
Never been to K Hall? It’s the grocery/eatery off Wright Avenue serving up one of the better fried pork chops you’ll find. Side note: K Hall marks the first time I ever ate my food while sitting on a curb right outside an establishment.
Torito’s, much like K Hall, is a both a restaurant and a small grocery store. They serve up fresh Mexican pastries, none better than the fried donut sticks covered in cinnamon and sugar, also known as churros.
Banana Leaf’s Samosa
Gosh, I’m just happy that Banana Leaf, the food truck located just a stone’s throw from UAMS, is back in business. I do love me some of their Chicken 65, but when I’m not looking to burn the heck out of my mouth, I generally opt for the potato-filled, piping hot samosas.
Doe’s Fried Shrimp
Well smack my ass and call me Charlie … Doe’s does some pretty mean fried shrimp. The soft, lightly fried crust is what I enjoy most about these jumbo-sized bad boys.
Gus’s Fried Chicken
Did you really think I’d make a “fried food list” and not include Gus’s fried chicken?
Lassis Inn’s Buffalo Ribs
These are massive, fantastically fried fish ribs. Take a moment to process that information. The mild white fish comes off the bone with ease and is best washed down with a nearly freezing 40-oz beer. Lassis Inn is a must-visit for any Little Rockian.
The Faded Rose’s Wedge Fries
Regulars to this blog know the love affair I have with these oversized hunks of potato goodness. Soft in the middle and crispy on the outside, the fries are best eaten after a good dipping in the accompanying ranch sauce.
Ciao Baci’s Fried Chicken
I LOVE the thick, crispy crust chef Owens is able to achieve on his fried chicken. It ain’t cheap, but he uses a quality bird and you can count on it being fried just right.
Bossa Nova’s Mandioca Frita
Say that three times in a row. These boiled, then deep fried chunks of yucca root are just so awesomely addictive. Deep each piece into the spicy ketchup, and you’ve got an excellent appetizer for two.
Table 28’s Fried Brussels Sprouts
Chi’s Sweet and Sour Fish
Maybe it was a dream, but I’m pretty sure my wife once ordered this off-menu dish from the Shackleford location, prompting me to then re-new our wedding vows. Thin cuts of white fish are deep fried and served up with some typical sweet and sour sauce. Oh so good!
Franke’s Chicken Tenders
I could literally eat these five times a week. Thick, juicy (when they haven’t been sitting in the bin for a long time) pieces of monster chicken tenders, with that flakey salt and pepper coating, are paired best with the honey mustard.
Hillcrest Artisan Meats’ Pan Fried Pork Loin Sandwich
I haven’t seen this on their menu in a while, but if they put it back on, go get it. A thin piece of pork loin is pan fried in extra virgin olive oil, then topped with Dijon mustard, aioli, and all the fixings. Like all of HAM’s sandwiches, it isn’t over the top, rather, just well-constructed from the finest ingredients.
South on Main’s Duck Wings
First, imagine a fried chicken wing…only bigger, meatier, richer in flavor, and just plain better. Then, roll it around in some house-made Buffalo sauce. Finally, thank little 8-pound, 6-ounce new born baby Jesus that chef Bell comes up with fun food items. You’ll only find the fried duck wings on SoM’s bar menu, and even then, you won’t see them very often.
The Southern Gourmasian’s Fried Egg
No one, I mean no one, does a better fried egg in Little Rock than chef Patterson. His poached version is pretty damn spectacular as well, but that’s a post for another day.
OK Little Rock, when fried foods did I miss? Would love to know in the comment box below.
BUZZ WORD … where each month a word is posted over on The Mighty Rib Facebook page, followed with a request for reader suggestions centered-around the term. One of the suggestions is randomly picked, dish is eaten, and a review is written.
This month’s BUZZ WORD was “burger.”
The cheeseburger at Terry’s Finer Foods was suggested by Jacquelyn, which was cool, because I had no idea Terry’s even had one on its menu.
Turns out, it’s a pretty damn good representative in the wildly debated burger field. A sizable patty (I’m guessing at least a 1/3-pound) sits atop a soft bun and comes with all the essentials, including: red onion, Romaine lettuce, pickles and tomato. This is a French restaurant, so the cheese options are plentiful, as is the amount of it they layer on your burger. I opted for the Swiss, which proved to be an excellent choice. As you can see, the abundance of cheese really made for a visually appealing burger. I’m guessing this is what originally captivated Jacquelyn.
I asked the burger to be cooked to “medium.” And although it was juicy, I’d say the burger was just a tad overcooked and under-seasoned. Also, I’m not a fan of the bulkier Romaine lettuce as it creates a somewhat messier eating experience.
But these are very slight criticisms, and as a whole, I’d say Terry’s fresh ground beef cheeseburger ($11.50) probably falls in the top 20 range in Little Rock.
The bottom line is that Terry’s cheeseburger certainly won’t blow you away, but it deserves a try. You’ll find that it’s definitely respectable enough to inspire a return visit and a repeat order.
As many of you know, I REALLY like salmon.
So, when Steve Shuler donated a pound of Wild Copper River King Salmon (from Peninsula Processing and Smokehouse) to my cause, who was I to say no? This particular salmon is some of the best of the best–soft and flavorful with just a gorgeous shade of orange. And rather than grill or even broil the salmon, I decided to keep things ultra-simple and eat the fish raw.
Looking to add just a few simple ingredients to subtly enhance the fish, I found this tartare recipe from bon appétit.
Feel free to ballpark all of the measurements, erring on the side of a cautious heavy hand. You’ll find the finely diced jalapenos and cucumbers add both a crunchy texture and layer of freshness to the fish, as does the shallots. And like every great recipe, this one calls for a decent amount of fresh cilantro, which is never a bad thing. If your salmon has been in the refrigerator, it is very important to place it inside the freezer for 20 minutes. This will firm-up the fish, allowing you to cut it in chucks with a very sharp knife.
Make no mistake, this salmon is not cheap and is only available at certain times of the year, but if you’re looking to make a big splash with dinner guests or just want to treat yourself to a magnificent dining experience, I highly recommend ordering some of this fish and utilizing a tried and true tartare recipe.
BUZZ WORD is back! Each month, a word is posted over on The Mighty Rib Facebook page, followed with a request for reader suggestions centered-around the term. One of the suggestions is randomly picked, dish is eaten, and a review is written.
This month’s BUZZ WORD was “steak.”
As expected, many folks weighed-in on this one. Some suggestions would have downright bankrupted me…see Arthur’s.
Thankfully, Doe’s won out.
You know Doe’s, the Little Rock landmark/institution that’s still just as famous as any restaurant in town. But guess what? I’ve only eaten there once, and only ordered the fried shrimp and tamales. Yes, don’t laugh, this was my first time to eat steak at Doe’s. For the past year or so, a buddy of mine has been pestering me to order the steak. “Shalin, just go to Doe’s, order the 3-lb Porterhouse and get it medium rare. Just do it.”
And that’s exactly what I did.
A Porterhouse is a thick-cut, monster-sized piece of meat comprised of a t-shaped bone that separates two sections of the meat—the larger short loin and the smaller tenderloin.
So we ordered the 3-lb. Porterhouse ($19.95 per pound), which came with fries, buttered toast and soaked salad. The steak was served family-style, and, along with the accompanying side dishes, comfortably fed our lunchtime table of four. What stood out was the no-frills simplicity of this steak. It’s as primal of a meat-eating experience as you’re going to get in a restaurant. The slab of meat is broiled and then brought to the table soaking in its own deliciously fatty juices.
One bite and it’s obvious why this steak is so damn popular. That combination of the crispy charred crust and tender, medium-rare meat is what separates this steak-eating experience from so many others. There was just the right amount of fat laced throughout the meat, providing for a rich buttery flavor, and a soft texture throughout.
Truthfully, I’m not a lover of steak. The biggest compliment I can give Doe’s is that I not only loved my Porterhouse, but I honestly can’t wait to go back and do it again.
This Little Rock landmark lived up to the hype.