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20 Gems Around Little Rock

20 Gems Around Little Rock
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It’s might be time to break out the stretchy pants. Trust me … these 20 restaurants are worth checking out, if you haven’t already done so. FYI, I numbered these, but they aren’t in ranking order.

1. La Poblanita

La Poblanita is in the old Super 7 Grocery spot on Barrow (near Kanis). The small lunchtime buffet is a huge hit, but I tend to opt for a delicious pastor torta, a huge sandwich packed with tender pork, a slather of refried beans, sour cream, lettuce, and tomato.

Torta at El Poblanita

2. Del Campo a la Ciudad

Del Campo is actually a smallish grocery store off University, so when you walk through the door, just head towards the back and you’ll find a few tables and an ordering counter. It’s also where you’ll find some of the very best tortillas in town. Made to order, these fluffy corn tortillas are best filled with barbacoa.

Tacos at Ciudad

3. Mama’s House of Burgers

Mama’s is a new spot to me, but my one visit was a good one. I can’t vouch for 95% of the menu at this point, but I will give a thumbs up to the cheeseburger, a simple yet tasty concoction that will run you about $5. The hand-formed patty is a nice touch.  Please note, Mama’s has only a few chairs and no tables, so you’ll need to plan on eating in your car or head back to the office/home with the food.

Burger Time!

4. Walker’s Home Cooking

Walker’s Home Cooking represents everything this blog is about. A reader (Jessica) checked it out, loved it, and then told me about the place. I went, loved it, and then passed the word to you guys. This no-frills spot at 1700 Main Street in NLR is an absolute gem, and you can’t go wrong with the hamburger steak, cabbage, and mashed potatoes.

Walker’s

5. Chinese Kitchen

You know that place next to The Pantry West that’s been there for about 175 years? Yeah, that’s Chinese Kitchen, and while it won’t win any James Beard awards, I can tell you they’ve mastered the art of fast and delicious Chinese take-out. The fried rice is some of the very best in town and it’s crazy cheap.

6. Lazy Pete’s

LP’s is just a fun, simple, no nonsense spot that does several things very well. Specifically, their chicken wings are dynamite, especially the lemon pepper. I know that people in the area realize how good this place is, but the rest of Little Rock might still be in the dark. Go check out this Lazy Pete’s for lunch.

7. Mama’s Gyros Grill

I’ve only been to Mama’s once, but I really enjoyed what I ate. Truth be told, I’d probably go to this little spot up in Sherwood if I didn’t live so damn far away. The grilled salmon salad is divine, as is the chicken gyro. I’ve seen pics of the burgers and those too look great.

Chicken Gyro

8. Sandy’s Homeplace Café
A restaurant that opens for lunch at 10am?!!? It does exist and it’s pretty fantastic. Sandy’s keeps things simple, offering a small buffet of two entrees and all the sides you can eat. It’s comfort food at its finest in this eatery on the edge of downtown. Make sure to save room for the pecan pie.

Pecan Pie at Sandy’s

9. El Torito

To know El Torito is to love El Torito. The small taqueria is attached to a wonderful, mid-sized grocery store with a nice variety of Mexican specialty foods. All of the tacos at El T are fantastic, but I especially enjoy the al pastor. Also, the shrimp and beef fajitas are not to be missed.

Fajitas

10. Milford Track

I’ve written about Milford Track–the tiny deli found at the bottom of a West Lake office building–for years now. I almost feel obligated to include the place in posts like this one because the food is fantastic, but mainly due to the fact that it’s one of the very few spots that actually makes fresh pasta.

11. Four Quarter Bar

Up front, Four Quarter Bar is a smoking establishment in Argenta. If you’re still reading, just know the bar seems to be churning out some fantastic food. I’ll be doing more research in the coming months, but for now, I can certainly vouch for the smoked pork chimichanga, an enormous tortilla filled with pulled pork and then fried. Listen, I get the smoking environment isn’t for everyone, but please still keep this place on the radar. Heck, call in a to-go order and just run in and pay. Or maybe have an employee meet you at the front. Just do what needs to be done to get this food into your pie hole.

12. Taqueria Karina

I personally think Karina serves the best tacos in town. I know, I know … that’s a highly debatable topic, but I truly am a fan of what they do with folded tortillas.

13. Taqueria Guadalajara
Guadalajara makes me think back to my Houston days, when eating a dynamite Mexican food breakfast happened frequently. That’s not the case in the Little Rock area. It took me over five years to try Guadalajara, which was a huge mistake on my part. The menu is small in the morning but ask for the Huevos a la Mexicana.

Huevos a la Mexicana

14. Brewsters 2 Soul Food Café & Lounge
We love our fried catfish in Little Rock, and I’m here to tell you Brewsters serves up some great fried catfish. The sweet potatoes, greens, and peas are also fantastic, but don’t rest on the cheeseburger. Nearby K Hall & Sons gets a lot of attention, as it should, but don’t sleep on Brewsters.

15. Las Delicias

Welcome to Las Delicias. Just walk through the grocery store to an area in the back with 4-5 tables. The menu includes a variety of tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tortas, and soups. I can vouch for the al pastor burrito and barbacoa and asada tacos. I’ve also been told the menudo gets a big thumbs up.

16. Chicken King

The garlic hot wings are where it’s at for this take-out only wing stop in North Little Rock. We all have strong opinions about wings, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option in the area than what Chicken King is making. The garlic hot wings, specifically, are a perfect combination of sweet and spicy.

Wing Time!

17. Cupcake Factory

This spot in WLR is not just a cupcake shop. While their sweet treats are good, so too are the savory items, like the ham, egg, and cheese biscuit sandwich and a variety of sandwiches. Keep an eye out on their social media … Cupcake Factory does rotating lunch specials featuring ribs, fried catfish, and hand-batter chicken tenders, just to name a few. FYI, they are also opening a second location in the Heights (old Cupcakes on Kavanaugh spot).

Chicken Salad Sandwich w/ Onion Rings at Cupcake Factory

18. Watercolor in the Park

Watercolor is another spot I’ve only been once, but I left quite impressed and really wanting to go back soon. The Honey Sriracha Chicken Sandwich (pictured at the top) was the star of my one meal, as was the beautiful Arkansas Arts Center setting.

19. Smoke Shack Bar-B-Q
If you live in Maumelle or are just a bbq-seeking maniac who’s always on the prowl for good ‘cue, I really think you’ll enjoy Smoke Shack. While it won’t blow you away as some award-winning bbq, it will deliver good food at a great price. I recommend the chopped beef sandwich with a pile of fries, as well as the smoked chicken and the addictive tomato relish. The prize of the establishment, however, is the sweet & spicy bbq sauce.

20. El Valle Mexican Store

Not a restaurant. I repeat … not a restaurant. But I wanted to include El Valle Mexican Store on this list because that’s where you’ll find my favorite tamales in the Little Rock area. These extremely large tamales are $2.50 each (available only on Thursday-Saturday) and come in cheese, chicken (green sauce), chicken (red sauce), and pork (red sauce).  El Valle Mexican Store is located in Sherwood (on Brockington, next to Daylight Donuts).

Tamale at El Valle