Archive for category She Said, He Said
Monthly Feature, By Becca Bona and Kevin Shalin
Becca and Kevin will check out a local restaurant, each at different times, and then write separate reviews. This month, it’s Lulu’s Latin Rotisserie & Grill.
I can’t exactly pinpoint the boom in our food scene, but I’ve been excited to see different influences and styles surface – like Lulu’s.
Lulu’s Latin Rotisserie opened in 2015, and almost immediately found a niche. Think Bolivian and Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken, empanadas, plantains, and more. Surprisingly, this is my first trek to Lulu’s – probably because it’s west of Mississippi. I went on a sleepy Friday for lunch with a friend, prepped and ready to see what they had to offer.
The space is nice enough, with a no-frills atmosphere, and comfortably decorated with Latin American-inspired art and music to match. The menu isn’t complicated, offering various sizes of Pollo A La Brasa (South American Rotisserie Style Chicken) with sides and apps dotting the front page as well as various platters and sandwiches represented on the back.
We started with an order of four empanadas – Beef, Chicken, Spinach, and Cheese. I was probably most excited by the crust. Our friendly waitress informed us that they prepare them by hand and make them fresh-to-order, which you can tell from that first, hot and flaky bite. The beef filling was by far my favorite – I literally could have eaten four of those as my entire meal. We tried all of the sauces –Aji Amarillo, Chimichurri, and Lulu’s Green Sauce – and while they were good, I ended up eating the Beef Empanada without much addition.
We then ordered a half Rotisserie Chicken – which comes with dark and white meat. Now, as a foodie who is not the biggest fan of chicken, I enjoyed my meal, as the bird was juicy as all get out. I am usually a fan of dark meat but the white meat shined here. I could see myself ordering a whole Rotisserie Chicken (white meat) and taking it home with me to meal prep for the week. Our chicken came with two sides – we chose the beans and rice and decided to sub in plantains. The beans and rice weren’t out of this world, but the plantains were delicious – in fact, we argued over the last one.
Finally, we checked out the dessert empanadas – which came with powdered sugar on top and a fruit filling. While the crust was amazing (like our appetizers) the filling – apple and caramel – didn’t do it for me.
When it comes down to it, I’m glad Lulu’s calls Little Rock home. This is the type of place I’d take a friend to if we wanted to catch up over a decent meal while hanging out in West Little Rock.
While I typically go to Lulu’s for dinner, I decided this time around to meet a friend for lunch. This was my buddy’s first visit to the restaurant and I was excited for him to try the food. My last experience a few months back was an absolute hit and I was hoping this meal would be the same.
Unfortunately, it was not.
Let’s start out with the good … my daughter’s bowl of black beans and rice and our table’s shared fried yucca appetizers were both spot-on. I love the tender and flavorful beans and rice combo, and at $6 for a large bowl, it’s really a filling dish at a great price. The yucca is always fried just right and a perfect way to start any meal at Lulu’s.
The rest of the meal was a mixed bag. I’m not quite sure why my friend opted for the Grilled Chicken Platter, which comes with two well-seasoned, fairly tasty, boneless chicken breasts, over Lulu’s signature rotisserie chicken. He’s young and foolish at times. Folks, I can’t stress this enough … pass on this dish in favor of the rotisserie chicken. You can make chicken breast like this at home on a Tuesday night. Again, was it bad? No, but it was boring and certainly didn’t stand out in an overly positive way. He was complimentary of the side salad and I’ve already mentioned the rice and beans which also came with his platter.
My Grilled Steak Sandwich was the low point of the meal. A thinly cut piece of fatty beef resided on the bun with some accompanying grilled mushrooms, onions, Provolone cheese, and mayo. I enjoyed the other elements of the sandwich, but the chewiness of the beef was just too unappealing to make me want to eat more than half of it. The meat was a true disappointment because Lulu’s knows it’s way around steak. Keep in mind, I love Lulu’s Parillada for 2, which comes with medium rare strip steak that’s as beautiful as it is delicious.
Our service was fast, attentive, and quite friendly, but here’s my main issue with Lulu’s … consistency in food. I’ve had both average and stellar meals at this restaurant. Heck, I could say that about almost every restaurant in Little Rock, but there’s so much potential here with Lulu’s, that I really want every meal to be great and for them to build a following as that top-notch neighborhood hole-in-the-wall. The talent and creativity is definitely there to do it.
I’ll come back soon to Lulu’s, probably for dinner and definitely for the Parillada and a cocktail.
Lulu’s Latin Rotisserie & Grill
315 N Bowman Rd #2
Wednesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Closed Monday & Tuesday
Monthly Feature, By Becca Bona and Kevin Shalin
Becca and Kevin will check out a local restaurant, each at different times, and then write separate reviews. This month, it’s Leo’s Greek Castle.
Leo’s is that place you take your out-of-town-friend to when you’re trying to enjoy Hillcrest and all the neighborhood has to offer. Maybe you stop in for lunch, planning to enjoy the coveted patio, or you make dinner plans, knowing you will take full advantage of the $0.75 PBR. Either way, you know you’re getting a bit of a hole-in-the-wall vibe that comes with the food your cravings are made of.
Food-wise, Leo’s isn’t exactly a front, as in, it’s not an authentic Grecian restaurant. Think more street-food, diner-esque – delectably greasy but completely satisfying.
I stopped in on a slow Monday night for dinner, and I had my mind made up on at least two of the three items I would order: The Leo Burger and the Gyros Sandwich.
The Leo’s Burger is an unexpected gem, as in, it’s a serious underrated dish in the Rock. You get a chargrilled 10 oz. burger with American cheese and all the fixings – (which is a lot – so bring your appetite), all for less than $10. This dish embodies all the nostalgic goodness of a grilled burger from a family gathering while repping that diner vibe. Likely, it’s exactly what the doctor ordered for your hair-of-the-dog.
On to the Gyros. There are plenty of places in Rock City where you can get a decent Gyros Sandwich with lamb, but Leo’s stands out. It’s hard not to drool a bit when you’re biting into the meat, as it’s so juicy. Everything else is decent, but the lamb is the true star of the dish.
To round everything out, I decided I would try the Sampler Platter from the appetizers list. The hummus is alright and the dolmas are even better, but the place actually packs a punch with their baba ghannouj – which I was pleasantly surprised by.
Ultimately, I’ll visit Leo’s again and again. They take all the American goodness of a homey diner and throw in Grecian influences. Leo’s might be Hillcrest’s most underrated neighborhood hang – especially when you consider the quality of their breakfast offerings (which deserves its own post), coveted patio, and $0.75 PBR.
It’s probably been a few years since my last Leo’s visit, and quite frankly, that’s a shame because I remember the food being pretty good. But before I delve into the culinary aspect of my most recent visit, let me touch on the actual restaurant itself. It’s one notch above being a complete shit hole, but, that said, it’s an important notch. I love places with a ton of character and Leo’s has just that. Parking is at a minimum, as is outdoor and indoor seating, but one step inside and I can’t help but feel the place has that certain something. Anyways … it’s super casual, cozy, and a little quirky, but I like the atmosphere.
Let’s get to the food.
My table of three ordered the onion rings, baba ghannouj appetizer, Leo Burger, Chicken Gyro Sandwich, and Falafel Sandwich. First things first, the onion rings were some of the best I’ve had in town. Thick, beer battered, slightly sweet, and not greasy, these rings were classic and delicious. I literally had to stop myself from eating the entire basket. The baba ghannouj appetizer was solid, but, honestly, I’ve had better in town. It was super creamy, but definitely needed more lemon juice. And while my falafel sandwich with fried chickpea patties, hummus, and veggies wrapped inside some warm pita were all delicious, the star of the table was my daughter’s Leo Burger.
This damn thing is a burger’s burger. It’s greasy, it’s cheesy, and it’s sloppy, but damn if this double thin-patty monstrosity wasn’t absolutely fantastic. No offense to the chicken gyro or the falafel or the baba ghannouj, but the burger and rings stole the show.
We got out of there for about $37 (with tip) which was an excellent value, especially given the amount of food that hit the table. Service was great. I’m kicking myself for letting so much time pass between visits. With a top 5 burger and onion rings in Little Rock, I’ll be returning sooner rather than later.
Leo’s Greek Castle
2925 Kavanaugh Blvd
Hours: Monday-Saturday 7AM-9PM, Sunday 8AM-3PM
Phone: (501) 666-7414