Archive for category Around Town

25 Dishes in Little Rock You Know You’d Miss

Cheeseburger at Cotham's

Cheeseburger at Cotham’s

 

A couple weeks back, I posted this question on Facebook:

“Tomorrow…you’re moving away from Little Rock but can take one specific restaurant dish with you to your new city. Which one dish are you taking?”

We had plenty of great responses, so I wanted to take a few … 25 to be exact, all from different restaurants … and highlight them in a post. Some of these dishes below are quite popular, like the shrimp & grits at Maddie’s and fish & chips at The Pantry. Some are a little under the radar, like the hummus at The Terrace and tomato basil soup at Raduno. Heck, there are some that I didn’t even know existed and now want to try out, like the bento box at Hanaroo and the dumplings at Fantastic China. So, I hope you enjoy this list, collected from readers’ responses…

1. Spicy Chicken & Dumplings at The Southern Gourmasian
2. Eggplant Casserole at Franke’s Cafeteria
3. Blackened Ribeye at The Faded Rose
4. Shrimp and Grits at Maddie’s Place
5. Chicken Liver Salad at South on Main
6. Fried Catfish and “fixins” at Bobby’s Country Cookin’
7. Tomato Basil Soup at Raduno
8. Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza at ZAZA
9. Fish & Chips at The Pantry
10. Saag Paneer at Star of India
11. Seasonal Frito Chili Burger at Big Orange
12. Salpicão at Café Bossa Nova
13. Smoked Turkey Salad at Burge’s
14. Biscuits and Gravy at The Root
15. Pad Thai at kBird
16. Calzone at Vino’s
17. Filet at Riverfront Steakhouse
18. Turkey Pastrami at Boulevard
19. Tamale Pie Dip at Heights Taco & Tamale Co.
20. Cheeseburger at Cotham’s
21. Szechuan Dumplings at Fantastic China
22. Jumbo BBQ Pork Sandwich at H.B.’s BBQ
23. Tuna Tataki Bento Box at Hanaroo
24. Mardi Gras Roll from Sky Modern Japanese
25. Hummus at The Terrace

My Take: Out of the dishes mentioned above, there are many that I would definitely miss if I moved away tomorrow. The Salpicão at Bossa Nova is right at the top of that list, simply because I’ve never had a dish like it. The same can be said about the Spicy Chicken & Dumplings at The Southern Gourmasian. It’s a very unique dish, and I doubt you’d ever find anything like it, no matter what city you lived in. I definitely wouldn’t miss the Chicken Liver Salad at South on Main because I despise all liver, but I’d definitely be sad about leaving behind the Eggplant Casserole from Franke’s. That dish, although quite gross looking, is delicious … and it screams Little Rock.

Eggplant Casserole at Franke's

Eggplant Casserole at Franke’s

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The Market Street/Rodney Parham Area is on the Rise

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This week’s announcement that Petit & Keet Bar and Grill, a new “polished-casual” restaurant and bar located at 1620 Market Street, will be opening on May 18th got me to thinking.

Is this area around Market Street/Rodney Parham suddenly one of Little Rock’s culinary hot spots? Before you start giggling, think about it for a second.

With city limits now extending way into the Chenal, this area is pretty much Midtown. And sure, it’s still not considered a trendy area of town (like a Hillcrest or Heights), but look at all of the eateries within a few blocks of each other. Some are old and some are new … but one thing is for certain, there’s a ton of variety.

Just a stone’s throw from Petit & Keet is Table 28, one of our more upscale restaurants in town, serving up anything from bone marrow to seared scallops to quail lollipops.  Sure, Flavor or India just went belly-up, but the renovated Market Street Shopping Center just down the street from Table 28 is home to the iconic Franke’s Cafeteria, as well as take-home meal specialist Diane’s Gourmet, and Mickey’s Cakes & Sweets.

There’s even a Starbuck’s, but, hell, there’s a Starbucks on every corner.

In the mood for breakfast? B Side is on Market Street … and just across the road on Rodney Parham is Delicious Temptations.

For those digging buffets, Asia Buffet recently opened and the ever popular Al Seraj is only a 1/4-mile away.  While The Pantry West isn’t on Market Street, it too is extremely close by, and, as we all know, rivals any restaurant in town. Heck, don’t forget about Taj Mahal, a place many consider to be the best Indian food in Little Rock. There’s even Indian Grocers right by the aforementioned Franke’s.

My point is this … there’s a wide range of culinary offerings in a 3-4 block radius in a very centralized area of town. To me, that’s something to get excited about.

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Quick Hits: Thoughts on Bossa Nova, Twiggy’s Treatery, & The Board

Mahi-Mahi Tacos at Café Bossa Nova

Mahi-Mahi Tacos at Café Bossa Nova

 

Thoughts on my recent eating experiences around Little Rock…

A cool, brisk Saturday morning inspired a visit to the Hillcrest Farmers Market where I ran into many familiar faces, and, of course, purchased several local products. Two that really stood out were the Strawberry Pop Tart at Twiggy’s Treatery and the Lemon Zest & Cilantro Hummus at Geek Eats. The former is this absolutely adorable food trailer that sets up at farmers markets and sells sweet treats, many of which incorporate a variety of local ingredients, including this amazing pop tart with Barnhill Orchards strawberries. The filling was tart and subtly sweet and the surrounding crust was baked just right. I highly recommend checking them out. As for Geek Eats, I’ve always enjoyed his hummus, but this Lemon Zest & Cilantro is my new favorite, primarily because I am addicted to anything with cilantro.

Not to go all gaga over a chain, but when something is good, dammit, who cares whether it’s local or not?  Case and point … Everything Bundt Cakes. Those little bundtlettes they sell for $4 are reasonably priced and taste great, especially the lemon cake.

Lunch at Café Bossa Nova was a big success. I ordered the Mahi-Mahi Tacos, which included deep fried mahi-mahi strips with Napa cabbage, pink chipotle sauce, mango radish salsa and fresh cilantro, resting on two lightly grilled corn tortillas. The tacos came with a side of black beans and rice. Simply put, the entire plate was perfection. The fresh, bright flavors of the toppings really paired well with the mild fish. And I could eat a vat, not a small cup, of that rice and beans. Bossa Nova is such an underrated spot, and while I know they have their loyal group of regulars, given its delicious food and prime location, the restaurant should be even more popular than what it is.

Quick … what’s one of the best dishes in all of Little Rock? Answer: The Board at The Pantry. For $21.95, you get a collection of house made meats, including: smoked turkey, Hungarian sausage, bratwurst, cured pork belly, country terrine, and liver pâté, along with an assortment of breads, cheeses, and pickled vegetables. I’ve written and fawned over this dish for years now, and I’ve yet to tire of it. It’s the ideal meal starter for a group of 4-6 people.

The Tuna Poke Bowl at Trio’s is the real deal. It’s a bowl of raw Hawaiian Ahi mixed with soy, ginger, sesame oil and spices, and comes with edamame, mango, warm sushi rice, avocado, watermelon radishes, toasted sesame seeds and English cucumber. It will be on the menu for the next few weeks and I highly recommend ordering it.

I walked into Flyway Brewing last Sunday at 2:30 p.m. to have a beer and watch some basketball at the bar. When I arrived, there must have been 10 people in the entire place. When the game was over about two hours later, Flyway was packed with a line 20 folks deep. It was Tom Petty’s fault.

Dear Arkansas Heart Hospital, I’m writing this short note to inform you I had a lapse in judgment last week. Unfortunately, I strayed and decided to eat the ramen at the Kroger in the Heights. They have a nice ramen station, much like you do, and I had heard some good things, but you’re still my ramen of choice. Plus, they charge almost $9 a bowl, far more than the $5 I’ve foolishly grown accustomed to with you. You’ve spoiled me so. Anyways, I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.

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100 of the Best Appetizers in Little Rock

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Skillet Bread at South on Main

 

Save this list, bookmark it, print it out … do whatever you have to do to file it away and use it as the ultimate reference guide for the best appetizers in Little Rock. Below is a combination of reader response and personal favorites. If there are any glaring omissions, please add them to the comment box. Also, make sure to check each restaurant’s current menu, as some of the appetizers are seasonal items.

Bruschetta, Hummus, or Baba Ganoush at YaYa’s
My Take: A friend once told me about the magnificence of YaYa’s baba ganoush and she was absolutely right.

Brussels Sprouts or Fried Hummus Bites at North Bar

Bacon Wrapped Dates, Truffled Deviled Eggs, House Made Ricotta, Cheese Spaetzle, Pomme Frites, Brussels Sprouts at The Pantry
My Take: In retrospect, I probably should have typed “See the entire Starters menu at The Pantry.”

Crawfish Dip with Fried Wontons at Skinny J’s
Crab Au Gratin at Cajun’s Wharf

Skillet Bread, Fried Chicken Livers, Pork Rinds, Fried Oysters or Smoked Oysters at South On Main
My Take: South on Main got a ton of love on this post, as it should, the appetizers are all fantastic. But my personal favorite is the Fried Oyster Steamed Bun, which is listed below.

Spinach & Artichoke Dip at Saddle Creek Grill
Cheese Fries at Rebel Kettle

Pimento Cheese, Bread & Butter Plate, or Smoked Jalapeño Pimento Cheese, or Black Eyed Pea and Poblano Hummus at Lost Forty

Burgundy Mushrooms or Cheese Dip at Dizzy’s
Quail Lollipops, Poutine, or Foie Gras at Table 28

Fried Shrimp at Doe's

Fried Shrimp at Doe’s

 

Fried Shrimp or Tamales at Doe’s Eat Place
Grilled Oysters, Meat Pies, BBQ Nachos, or Truffle Fries at Maddie’s Place

Fried Black Eyed Peas or Spiced Pecans at Capital Bar and Grill
My Take: Those spiced pecans are crazy addictive and an absolute must-get on any visit to CBG.

Spicy Pimento Cheese with Soft Pita Chips at Taziki’s Mediterranean Café
The Caprese at Deluca’s

Shrimp Tchoupitoulas, Rose’s Hot Red Pepper Shrimp, Stuffed Mushrooms, Rose’s Fries, Fried Artichoke Hearts, Fried Green Tomatoes, or Cajun Popcorn at The Faded Rose
My Take: Good gracious was TFR mentioned a lot on this thread. All great choices, but give me those wedge fries with the buttermilk dressing any day.

Baba Ganoush at Layla's

Baba Ganoush at Layla’s

 

Onion Rings or Fried Green Tomatoes at Cotham’s in the City
Cheesesteak Egg Rolls at Del Frisco’s Grille
Crab Cakes at Sonny Williams’ Steak Room
Yellowtail or Hamachi Nigiri at Kemuri
Burrata at Raduno
Cheese Fries or Quesadilla at Buffalo Grill
Hummus or Baba Ganoush at Layla’s
Hummus with Pita Bread at Mama’s Gyros Grill
Fried Mozzarella Sticks at Dugan’s Pub

Baked Pimento Cheese at Boulevard Bistro
My Take: I’ve written about this appetizer several times in the past and it really is a unique and delicious spin on a Little Rock classic.

Fried Gulf Oysters or Crispy Chicken Livers at Red Door
Calamari Fries, Tuna Tataki, Spinach Dip, Queso Fundido, or Hot Crab Dip at Trio’s
Salsa Trio at Local Lime
Fried Green Tomatoes with Shrimp at Samantha’s Tap Room and Wood Grill
Tamale Pie at Heights Taco & Tamale Co.
State Fair Fries (with Side of Jalapeño Ranch) at Big Orange
Crab Stuffed Artichoke at Capers
Tortilla Soup at Casa Manana
Heirloom Tomato Plate, Goat Cheese Moouse or Baked Camembert at Brave New Restaurant
Cheese Dip at Reno’s Argenta Cafe
Ceviche Tostadas at El Porton
Crab Cake at One Eleven at the Capital
Grilled Meatballs and Stuffed Eggplant at Ristorante Capeo
Bread and Butter at Bruno’s Little Italy
Fried Portobello Slices or Shrimp & Brie Quesadillas with Mango Salsa at Loca Luna

Leeks at One Eleven

Leeks at One Eleven

 

Falafel, Tabouleh, Hummus, or Baba Ghanouj at Zam Zam Grill
My Take: I’ve heard good things about this place, probably time to check it out.

Cheese Dip at Riviera Maya
Calamari at Zaffino’s
Tuna Tataki at Hanaroo
Fried Green Tomatoes at The Main Cheese

My Personal Favs
Smoked Trout Nachos at Flyway Brewing
Chicken Nachos at El Palenque
Ceviche at Local Lime
Pupusas at Rosalindas
Fried Oyster Steamed Buns or Cauliflower Popcorn at South on Main
Fried Yuca at La Terraza Rum & Lounge
Pimento Cheese (Toast) or Radishes at The Root
Ceviche at Kemuri
Leeks at One Eleven at the Capital
Triple Dipper at Baja Grill

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