Archive for category Food Find

8 Hidden Gems in the Little Rock Area

Beef Milanesa Torta at Super 7

Beef Milanesa Torta at Super 7

 

It’s all pretty much semantics … so whether you want to call each of these restaurants below a hidden gem or underrated or a hole-in-the-wall, one thing is for certain, they don’t receive a lot of attention and they should.

Brewsters 2 Soul Food Café & Lounge
We love our fried catfish in Little Rock, and I’m here to tell you Brewsters serves up the very best I’ve eaten in town. The sweet potatoes, greens, and peas are also fantastic, but don’t rest on the cheeseburger. It’s so simple but so freaking delicious. Location: 2725 S. Arch Street

El Torito
Remember when El Palenque was this obscure restaurant that not many folks knew about? Those days are long gone. I bring up El P because I firmly believe El Torito is very similar. Most people think it’s just a grocery store, but there’s a little café adjacent to the store that serves up some dynamite Mexican food. The shrimp and beef fajitas come out sizzling and are some of the best I’ve had in Little Rock. The tacos are simple but well-executed. Get the carnitas, barbacoa, or al pastor tacos with flour tortillas along with a pile of rice and refried beans. El Torito is also a great take-out option. Location: 303 Bowman Road

Super 7 Grocery Store
You talk about a place that gets absolutely no attention. That’s a shame because the chicken and beef milanesa tortas are divine. As the name suggests, this small eatery is actually inside a grocery store. And I can’t personally vouch for it, but they have a lunch time buffet for around $10 that seems quite well-received. Location: 1415 John Barrow Road

La Terraza Rum & Lounge
If you follow this blog, you know I’ve been singing the praises of La Terraza this past week. And while it’s certainly not a hole-in-the-wall (smack dab in the middle of Hillcrest), it doesn’t get much attention. I think the restaurant must have gotten off to a shaky start (according to some reader feedback). All that said, I really believe you may want to give La Terraza another try…or a try. Hell, just go for the mojitos. They have 8 or 9 different flavors, all fresh and quite flavorful. The meat and cheese board is a winner, as is the arepas and the beef carpaccio. Location: 3000 Kavanaugh Blvd

Sandy’s Homeplace Café
This lunchtime spot is tiny but oh so good! If you’ve been, then you know what I’m talking about. Sandy’s rotates two items each day (like chicken fried steak and chicken livers) paired with a small selections of sides. It’s simple, stick-to-your ribs Southern cooking. And did I mention it’s a buffet? And did I mention it costs like $8 or $9 bucks? You even get a dollar off if you pay in cash. Location: 1710 E. 15th Street

Pho and More
Do you love pho? I mean … do you REALLY love pho? Then make the 35-minute drive up to Jacksonville to Pho and More. It’s the best pho in Central Arkansas. Yes, even better than Mike’s Café (and I love Mike’s). Should I bore you with all of the details about what makes this pho so special? No? Good, I won’t. The vermicelli bowls are also outstanding, and I hear the sushi isn’t too shabby either. Location: 123 S. Jeff Davis Street (Jacksonville)

Milford Track
By now, many of you have heard about Milford Track, the tiny deli located in an office building in the Westlake business park, so why have you still not gone? MT serves up the usual quick-lunch items, but the real reason to go is the hand-made pasta. Few places in town even make their own pasta, much less from scratch right after you place an order. If you do get the pasta, be patient … greatness takes a few extra minutes to arrive at the table. Location: 10809 Executive Center Dr # P2

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. Location: 20608 AR-365 (Maumelle)

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10 Can’t Miss Food & Drink Gifts … All Local

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Are you looking for a perfect holiday gift for that special foodie in your life? Here are 10 suggestions that are sure to please…

Izard Chocolate
Local chocolatier, Nathaniel Izard, has a shop located in the heart of Hillcrest (right across the street from Kroger). If you’re not a fan of handcrafted, artisan dark chocolate, this probably isn’t the place for you. But if you are … and also enjoy caramels and even fresh roasted coffee, Izard Chocolate is a must-stop. Bars, truffles, and chocolate-dipped caramels are the main draws. Purchase online, at the shop, or at various locations throughout Little Rock. Prices vary.

Pozza’s Pasta
Made in NWA’s Tontitown, this is a dried pasta made with unbleached flour as opposed to a semolina flour. It’s available in 12-ounce packages, including: 100% Whole Wheat, Spinach Spaghetti, Tomato Basil Linguini, Angel Hair, Parsley Linguini, and Traditional Spaghetti and Linguini. Purchase online or from Terry’s Finer Foods. Prices start at $5 per package.

WaterVeg Lettuce
Hey, not every holiday food gift has to be a caloric nightmare. I’m a huge fan of WaterVeg, a Little Rock-based aquaponics company specializing in lettuce delivered right to your doorstep on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. Go online to check out membership subscriptions or purchase a gift card. Baskets cost around $12 and that includes delivery.

Bonta Toscana Garlic Sauce
Amy Bradley-Hole sells a divine, slightly spicy garlic sauce that’s perfect on pizza, pasta, or  just about anything that is even remotely edible. You can find it all over Little Rock, including: Stratton’s Market, The Corner Store and More, Kent Walker Artisan Cheese, Hillcrest Artisan Meats, Eggshells, Terry’s Finer Foods, Honeycomb Kitchen Shop (in Rogers). Amy also sets up shop at the Hillcrest Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. Prices start at $7 per jar.

RED Boards
Who in their right mind doesn’t love a handmade cutting board? Local woodworker, Randy Davidson, makes them in a variety of shapes and sizes, including: Arkansas-shaped, Razorback-shaped, checkerboard, squares, rectangles, and he even does custom boards. I purchased one of Randy’s boards last year for my parents and they absolutely love it. Available at Eggshell’s Kitchen Co. Prices range from $49-$165.

Egg Nog at South on Main
You really haven’t lived until you’ve tried David Burnette’s award-winning egg nog at South on Main. Lucky for you, it’s available to purchase this holiday season. Take a quart or two home with you or to a holiday party. Available beginning on December 4th at the restaurant. Price based on current dairy cost and is yet to be determined.

O’Looney’s Shamrock Selections
I’ve really tried to up my wine game over the past few months and a big part of it has to do with O’Looney’s Shamrock Selections, a monthly, curated selection of the best wines from around the world. Each month’s selection (usually two bottles) is carefully chosen by sommelier Keegan Sparks and his team. He keeps a keen eye out for wines that are unique, rare, and new to our market. Available for gifting in single-month, six-month, and twelve-month increments. Visit the store or go online. Cost is around $60, I think (need to check my credit card statement)

Gift Baskets at Rock Town Distillery
From single barrel whiskey to basil vodka, Rock Town’s products just keep getting better and better. Hard liquor is a great gift for the holidays, and the folks over at Rock Town Distillery are putting together some nice holiday gift baskets. Available to purchase at the distillery on 6th Street. Cost varies, but each basket maxes out at around $80.

Cookie Packages from Ann Potter Baking
Sarah Declerk of Ann Potter Baking is putting together holiday cookie packages, including: 6 decorated shortbread, 6 German chocolate roll-ups, 6 cinnamon roll-ups, and 6 monster cookies. Contact Sarah at annpotterbaking@gmail.com. I recently sampled the German chocolate roll-ups and can tell you they are fantastic. Cost is $45.

Grass Roots Farmers Cooperative
Show that special someone in your life how much you love them by purchasing a membership to Grass Roots Farmers Cooperative. They’ll get a monthly shipmetn of grass-fed, pasture-raised meat. I’ve been a member for over a year, and I not only love the taste and quality of the meats,but also the service. Members get discounted prices and free shipping. Heck, you can even order meat a la carte. Prices vary.

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Food Find: Pozza’s Pasta Now Available Online, At Terry’s Finer Foods

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If you’ve been inside Terry’s Finer Foods recently, you may have noticed a new product on the shelves. Pozza’s Pasta, out of Tontitown in Northwest Arkansas, is now available in several flavors and cuts.

“Pozza’s Pasta is a superior dried pasta, the taste and texture is different than other pasta’s on the shelf. We believe that is because we use regular unbleached flour as opposed to a semolina flour. Most pastas on the market use semolina, which makes the noodle tougher. The semolina is used so that the pasta can be extruded, which is also a big difference. Our pastas are hand cut as opposed to being passed through an extruder,” says co-owner Alison Mhoon.

Pozza’s Pasta is available in 12-ounce packages, including: 100% Whole Wheat, Spinach Spaghetti, Tomato Basil Linguini, Angel Hair, Parsley Linguini, and Traditional Spaghetti and Linguini. If you’re not up for a trip to Terry’s, the pasta can be purchased online (cost $5-6 per box).

Says Mhoon, “Pozza’s Pasta has been around over 40 years. Each new generation has continued to produce pasta the same way our Italian ancestors did when they settled in Tontitown, AR over 100 years ago. We hope that you enjoy eating it as much as we enjoy making it!”

I sampled boxes of the angel hair and parsley linguini and thought each one was absolutely delicious. As you can see from the picture above, I thought the parsley linguini was ideal with a little sautéed spinach, butter, extra virgin olive oil, and Parmesan.

Keep an eye out for Pozza’s Pasta to possibly pop up in other stores throughout the Little Rock area in the very near future. Until then, go check out Terry’s or order a few boxes online.

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Food Find: The Waring Digital Rotisserie Turkey Fryer

Fried turkey is a wonderful thing.

Fried turkey is a wonderful thing.

We are constantly on the prowl for cool products!

When big-time Little Rock foodie Steve Shuler invites you over for a dinner party, you just say yes and worry about babysitter logistics at a later time. He can flat out cook and I’m not about to miss out on his latest culinary creations, especially when they’re paired with Joel DiPippa’s libations.

So…what did Steve have in store for us last Friday night? Deep. fried. turkey.

Steve is the proud owner of the Waring Digital Rotisserie Turkey Fryer, and before he instructs others at Williams-Sonoma on how to use the apparatus, he decided to test it out on some friends.

Gone are the days of setting up the turkey fryer in the driveway. No longer must you lower the bird in a vat of bubbling grease and sprint away, all the time praying your buddy doesn’t have to bust out the fire extinguisher.

This fairly compact turkey fryer sits right on your kitchen counter, doesn’t seem to splash oil (if used properly), and isn’t as noisy as one might expect. The best part … unlike traditional fryers, the Waring rotates the bird in a bath of 375-degree oil, allowing the turkey to come up for air during half the cooking process. Watching it is absolutely mesmerizing.

The end result … a beautiful and deliciously juicy turkey that will certainly impress your guests. Heck, even the breast meat was as moist as I’ve ever had it. And because the temperature was digitally-set, the consistent fry-job locked out the grease.

The Waring isn’t cheap, but if you take pride in making that perfect turkey, it’s well worth the investment.

Special thanks to Steve and Jen for having us over!

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