Thoughts from my recent food adventures around Little Rock…
I know many folks love Mr. Chen’s, and while I’m not saying the place is bad by any stretch of the imagination, I am saying it gets a little too much credit for being the best Chinese food in Little Rock. I wasn’t overly impressed with the Salted Crispy Chicken dish, which, as expected, was salty, but its real shame was the lack of an accompanying sauce with the chicken. Again, it wasn’t bad, but could have been a lot better. I was also a bit underwhelmed by the Taiwanese Pan Fried Noodles, a plate highlighted by tender beef and shrimp, but there was also this lackluster pile of noodles which proved almost too difficult to cut.
So, just where is the best Chinese food in Little Rock? To me, it’s Fantastic China … and my lunchtime combo of oyster sauce with mushrooms, fried rice, and fried spring roll did nothing do dissuade me from that line of thinking.
Count me as a fan of Flyway’s new array of soft pretzels, which includes a lavender salt pretzel with honey mustard that I devoured with my pale ale at the bar, while my bar mate crushed the espresso salt pretzel with stout chocolate sauce. If you’re looking for a unique sweet treat, this is one is for you. Flyway has a variety of pretzels now on its regular menu which pair wonderfully with a their selection of beer.
A quick shout out to the folks over at Mugs Café. I popped in a few weeks back, and, as always, loved my cup of coffee. The place is so consistent, seems to always have a steady flow of customers, and is a true gem for the Argenta District in NLR.
Am I saying Al Seraj is a Top 10 restaurant in Little Rock? No. I won’t compare it with the likes of Table 28, South on Main, One Eleven, etc. But the $10 lunch buffet of Mediterranean delights makes the restaurant 100%, without a doubt, one of the best fast casual spots in town. BTW … if you’re interested, I think the dinner buffet costs a buck or two more.
I finally tried the frozen mojito at Heights Taco & Tamale and damn was it good. This drink, along with Local Lime’s frozen margarita, proves Yellow Rocket has truly mastered the frozen cocktail concept. Well done. And as for HTT, it really needs to be said … what a gorgeous bar. Also, props on that massive flat-screen television right in the dead center.
After the UALR men’s basketball game the other night, my buddy and I had dinner and beers at The Pantry Crest. The place was hopping but our food orders came out fast, no small feat when a restaurant is that full. My seared salmon with spinach, quinoa, and charred asparagus was absolutely perfect, as was my friend’s burger (so I was told…never got a bite). Seared salmon is not a sexy dish, especially at a place like The Pantry Crest, but if you’re looking for something a little lighter, order it.
I made the quarterly pilgrimage down to Hot Springs for my fix of Deluca’s pizza last Friday afternoon with a few friends who happened to be first timers. It was the same old story … still the best pizza around.
Then in dawned on me, I’ve been coming to Deluca’s for a year now and I’ve never had anything that wasn’t spectacular. And I mean everything, from the salads, to the meat plate, to all of the pizzas, and even the cannoli. It’s all been truly fantastic.
But you already know that.
At this point, you’re sick of reading all of the foodgasms from writers and fans. The addictive pizza and owner Anthony Valinoti’s larger than life personality make dining at Deluca’s an experience like no other in this state.
So, let’s be real … all you really care about is, “When can I get my ass down there to eat this pizza?”
If you can manage to match your schedule up with the restaurant’s fairly limited hours, I can almost guarantee it will be worth the drive down to Hot Springs.
I’ve been 6 or 7 times and it’s always great–every single time. A lot of credit not only goes to Anthony and his pursuit of perfection, but also to his loyal staff, including, but not limited to his right-hand man, Willy Whitelaw.
There is only two minor hitches. Deluca’s is super popular now and Anthony only makes 75 pies per day, so when he runs out of dough, that’s the end of the show. Also, he only has so much space in that oven, so if you go during peak times, you may possibly be in for a wait.
No worries, however, perfect pizza tends to put you back in a great mood.
My random thoughts and ramblings about food…
Good Food in NLR plans to close on January 30th as Chef Donnie Ferneau will be taking over the kitchen at The Club 1836. This new club has been a source of conversation throughout Little Rock over the past few weeks, and it will be interesting to see how everything plays out once the new spot opens in the old Packet House. As for soon-to-be-former Good Food space … any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions on what you think would work? Seems to have a load of potential.
My second visit to Flyway Brewing was just as good, if not better, than the first. I’ve pretty much tried all of their beers (maybe 10) and can tell you that they are churning out some of the best brew in town. In fact, with brewers like Flyway, Moody Brews, Lost Forty, Blue Canoe, and Stone’s Throw, our local beer scene has definitely made me a fan of craft beer in a short period of time. It’s really quite remarkable how far we come as a beer town in just a few years.
Let’s get the slightly bad news out of the way first. The Faded Rose will be closed on Sunday, February 7th for “deep cleaning and routine maintenance,” but the good news is that February 9th (Fat Tuesday) marks the start of crawfish season at TFR.
For the quality and price, is there a better meat counter than Edwards Food Giant on Cantrell? I say no. My most recent purchase was several links of the chicken sausage. I’ve got my eye on you, bone-in ribeyes. It will happen, soon.
I’ve literally driven past Diane’s Gourmet Luxuries hundreds of times without ever stopping to check the place out … until last week. It was a nice spot filled with various artisan food items, wares, and prepared meals. I end up grabbing a chicken salad wrap for lunch, which was fairly forgettable, but my package of oatmeal raisin cookies for dessert was delightful.
Just in case the super efficient Chick-fil-a drive-thru didn’t do it for you, Chef Shuttle recently partnered with the insanely popular fast food chain to have the tasty treats delivered right to your face. Talk about a big account for Chef Shuttle. On the other end of the spectrum, CS recently teamed up with Grass Roots Farmers Cooperative.
It’s Wednesday, go eat some fried chicken at Capital Bar and Grill … the Wednesday Special.