Posts Tagged Doe’s

Top 10 Restaurants to Take Out-of-Towners

South on Main

South on Main

 

Living in Little Rock for almost five years has allowed me to build up a strong list of restaurants to bring my out-of-town guests. These places aren’t necessarily serving the absolute best food in town, but they are restaurants with an excellent combination of food and atmosphere, while also truly reflecting the essence of Little Rock.

South on Main

I’ve said it for a few years now, but South on Main’s unique offering of dynamite, elevated Southern food and cocktails in a setting that also hosts amazing concerts makes it one of our top restaurants to take out-of-towners. Simply put, it’s the entire package … all in a casually cool setting with consistently excellent service. It’s a good idea to keep up with the concert schedule on their website and be sure to make reservations/purchase tickets in advance. South on Main is also open for Sunday Brunch, serving popular items like biscuits, breakfast tacos, and fried oysters eggs Benedict.

What to Order: Old Fashioned with The Double: Two All-Beef Patties, Comeback Sauce, Pimento Cheese, Bacon Jam, Fries and a Soaked Salad

Doe’s Eat Place

The place where Bill Clinton hung out will always be a cool draw to non-locals, making Doe’s inclusion on this list a complete no-brainer. Oh, and Doe’s also happens to serve one of the best steaks in town at a fairly reasonable cost. While I’m not a huge fan of the Delta-style tamales, they should be the start of any meal, along with the deliciously addictive fried shrimp. Save room for soaked salad and buttered Texas toast, perfect for dipping in the meat juice from your medium-rare, 3-lb Porterhouse. Doe’s is no-frills but absolutely charming and one of the most historically relevant restaurants in town.

What to Order: 3-lb Porterhouse (make sure to call ahead and reserve on busy nights)

The Root Cafe

The Root Cafe

 

The Root Cafe

Little Rock’s only true farm-to-table restaurant is now open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. While it has long served the best breakfast in town, this charming SoMa District cafe recently started serving dinner as well, which is great news, especially if you enjoy dishes like pork belly, arancini, and beef tenderloin. While a grant allowed ownership to double the size of the restaurant and create a kitchen area that is better suited to handle bigger crowds, The Root maintains a quaint, down-home feel that has made it wildly popular with locals.

What to Order: Biscuits and Gravy for breakfast; hamburger for lunch

Flyway Brewing

Flyway Brewing, located in North Little Rock’s Argenta District, played a large role with Little Rock’s craft beer scene catching up with the rest of the country. There are usually about 9-10 beers on tap, so even your pickiest beer connoisseur should be able to find something that suits their palette. Stouts, IPAs, brown ales, and wheat beers … Flyway has it all and the food isn’t too shabby either. The limited menu is filled with several hits, like smoked trout nachos, soft pretzels, and marinated tofu sliders. Flyway’s atmosphere is casual and unpretentious, a true reflection of Little Rock mentality.

What to Order: Bluewing beer (blueberry wheat) with Duck Confit Nachos

Capital Bar and Grill

CBG has been through some ups and downs over the past few years, but there’s still no denying its importance to Little Rock’s dining scene. More importantly, located inside The Capital Hotel, CBG is a restaurant many out-of-towners will actually check out. And that’s a good thing, because Capital Bar and Grill has gotten its groove back, serving the classics in a sophisticated setting with just the right amount of Southern charm and elegance.

What to Order: Pimento Cheese (appetizer) and Duck Pot Pie

Lassis Inn

Lassis Inn

 

Lassis Inn

It isn’t fancy and may not be in the nicest area of town, but the old-school setting and insanely small booths at Lassis Inn will leave your guests with lasting memories. And so will the fried catfish and buffalo ribs. If you’re really feeling crazy, order one of the ice cold 40-oz beers. Does Lassis serve the best fried catfish in town? In my opinion, no. But it’s still damn good and the history and charm behind this restaurant make it a must-stop for folks looking to get a true taste of Little Rock.

What to Order: Fried Catfish, Buffalo Ribs, Fries, and Tomato Relish

The Pantry Crest

Restaurants and food can be so damn subjective, but The Pantry Crest is one of the very few restaurants that’s beloved by all. And let’s face it, when you have out-of-towners, sometimes you need a sure thing with a restaurant. The Pantry Crest is a sure thing. European comfort classics never tasted so good, at least not in this town. With a beautiful decor, elite service, and a menu that includes such dishes as lasagna, truffle deviled eggs, and charred Romaine Caesar Salad, The Pantry Crest is a perfect spot to take non-locals. And I have … many times. FYI, the original location in WLR is just as nice.

What to Order: The Pantry Board and Cheesecake 

kBird

kBird

 

kBird

Much like Lassis Inn, kBird isn’t much to look at, but hole-in-the-walls are my thing and I’m a firm believer they are the backbone to any city’s dining scene. kBird is the best Thai food you will find in this area, or, for that matter, any area. It’s that good, and if your guests are more concerned about where the locals are eating, as opposed to trendy spots with overrated food, kBird is an excellent option. The menu is quite small, which means everything is great. Side note, if you see a jar of ginger cookies sitting by the register, order at least one, if not all of them. It’s probably the best cookie you’ll eat in Little Rock.

What to Order: Green Papaya Salad

One Eleven

One Eleven

 

One Eleven

Truthfully, I feel a little foolish putting two restaurants (CBG being the other) that are located under one roof. One Eleven, located inside The Capital Hotel, is as fine-dining as you’ll get in Little Rock, and sometimes out-of-towners are in search of elegance. Make no mistake, One Eleven is more than just a beautiful setting. The food and service are absolutely elite, and while the restaurant may not view itself as a “special occasion only” type of place, for most of us, it is.

What to Order: Seared Diver Scallops with Potato Gnocchi

The Faded Rose

Little Rockers love New Orleans and folks around here just can’t get enough of the food associated with this city. The Faded Rose has been serving up Cajun & Creole-influenced dishes for almost 35 years … all in a casual setting that seems to always be full. The menu rarely changes and includes staples like shrimp and grits, thin fish, and a blackened rib-eye. The food is consistently good, as is the service, making it a perfect place to take out-of-towners.

What to Order: Crawfish Etouffee 

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Hitting Up David’s Burgers, The Wunderbus, Doe’s, and Baja Grill

Tacos at Baja Grill

Tacos at Baja Grill

 

Random thoughts and ramblings on local food and drink…

I love David’s Burgers just as much as the next guy. Heck, it’s definitely in the discussion for top 3 burgers in town, but can they ease up on the salt shaker at the WLR location? My chicken burger, which also now seems like a thinner patty (meaning: less meat), was way over-seasoned. Don’t get me wrong, I ate every bite, but I spent the rest of the night sucking down water like I was wandering around a desert. That said, the fries, which I’ve never been blown away with, were the best I’ve ever had at David’s. The crispy, not-so-greasy exterior will get you excited about them being all-you-can-eat. Per usual, the service at David’s was stellar.

How can you not like Doe’s Eat Place? Just walking into the place feels like a warm Little Rock hug. Last Friday, my two tablemates and I split a 3-pound Porterhouse cooked medium rare, which includes all of the fixings (dipping toast, fries, and soaked salad). We also polished off some Delta-style tamales with chili. The steak was excellent, especially the filet side, and although it wasn’t the best version I’ve had at Doe’s, it did have that signature crust and perfectly cooked medium-rare interior. And the sides? I could eat a large tub of the soaked soaked if it was socially acceptable, and the fries and bread are the ideal vehicles for meat-juice dipping. Once again, Doe’s proves that solid food, reasonable prices, and excellent service are the keys to longevity in the Little Rock market.

Enough about the old go-to’s like Doe’s and David’s. Have you checked out the still new-ish food truck called The Wunderbus (Wayfaring Germanic Cuisine)? I caught them while wandering around the Cornbread Festival and was blown away by The Floki, a pork/beef meatball sandwich with a rich, mushroom/onion/tomato sauce on a Sidney & Sons French bun. Simply put, the sandwich ($12) was absolutely fantastic, so good, in fact, that I returned 10 minutes later to order another one because my kids wolfed down the first sandwich. I’ve been on record as saying our food truck scene in this area is currently way down. Several trucks have folded and the ones that are left often lack creativity. Not The Wunderbus. Much like The Southern Gourmasian, this is a food truck to get genuinely excited about. The food comes out in a timely manner, is fun, creative, different, and above all … delicious. Follow them on Facebook to see where they’ll be next.

It’s been too damn long since my last visit to Baja Grill in the Heights. Remember when everyone was saying that location was jinxed? Seems like Baja has put that ridiculous notion to rest. And they do it with a simple menu, comprised predominately of tacos and burritos. Per usual, I ordered one each of the Cuban and Pig Sooie tacos, the latter being a non-traditional offering of pork, barbeque sauce, and pickled red onions … all resting on two, white corn tortillas. Each taco is $4.50 and you can add a side of rice and beans for $2.25. Part of me just wishes it would come as a complete plate and just charge me $11.25 for the entire shebang … but I get why they structure the menu this way. Anyways, we sat on the patio and enjoyed some of this wonderful summer/fall weather.

Quick Hits: The sausage and cheese kolaches at the Shipley’s on Shackleford are my favorite in town. I wish we have more options, but for now, these will do. I had an hour to kill the other night, so I headed over to Heights Taco & Tamale Co. for a $5 happy hour frozen margarita. It hit the spot. Why do I continue to eat Kroger sushi? It’s overpriced and woefully below average, but it still has a once-a-month hold on me. Boulevard still serves the best cup of coffee in town, but Honey Pies, The Root, and Trio’s (they use dark roast Westrock) are also excellent options, just to name a few.

 

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Your Favorite Burger in the Little Rock Area

Arkansas Burger Co.

Arkansas Burger Co.

 

We’re back at it again, trying to gauge exactly what we truly love to eat here in Little Rock.  This time around, we’re taking a look at one of the most subjective food items out there … the burger. Here’s the question I posed on Facebook…

“What is your favorite restaurant to get a burger in the Little Rock area?”

We had 74 comments, with 38 different burgers being mentioned and 116 total votes. As always, these are very informal polls, so please treat this post as just a nice resource for quality burger options in our area. Here’s the crazy thing that struck me right off the bat … of the 38 places mentioned, I had not even had the burger at 24 of them. Granted, I’m not a big burger guy, but it still speaks to the quality options we have in the area.

So who reigned supreme? To no surprise, Big Orange and David’s came out on top. Both places are wildly popular, produce a consistently great burger, and have multiple locations to hit a wider audience. Big Orange took in 16 votes and David’s came in second with 14. There was a considerable drop-off after those two. The next tier of spots included: The Box, The Root Cafe, Gadwall’s Grill, South on Main, Arkansas Burger Co., and Capital Bar and Grill … all receiving between 5-7 votes. Of these, the South on Main burger, which I’ve written about quite a bit of late, is my personal favorite. I know several folks who claim that The Root’s cheeseburger is the absolute best burger in town, but I can’t speak to that one, as I haven’t had it in a few years.

Tier three consisted of these spots: Cotham’s (original location), Buffalo Grill, Hillcrest Artisan Meats, The Pantry, Grumpy’s, Alley Oops, Midtown Billiards, Sports Page, Burge’s, Purple Cow, Bobby’s Cafe, Burgers Pies and Fries, Four Quarter Bar, and Monkey Burger … all receiving between 2-4 votes. The H.A.M. is served only on Fridays, and when they run out, they run out, so get there early. It’s a decadent burger that’s sure to please even the pickiest of palates.

We had several places that each received one mention. These included: Skinny J’s, The Spot, Ciao Baci, The Southern Gourmasian, Leo’s Greek Castle, Mick’s BBQ, Brewster’s II Cafe, K Hall and Sons, VFW on Kanis, The Butcher Shop (Friday), Canon Grill, Markham Street Grill & Pub, JoJo’s Bar-B-Que, The Terrace, Jacks Bar and Grill, and Doe’s Eat Place. If you haven’t had the chicken burger at The Southern Gourmasian, please put it on your to-do list. Also, the Ciao Baci burger is super underrated.

Finally, a few reactions from readers…

Karin Schoultz: “We looooove old school, straight up, plain Jane good old Buffalo Grill burger!!!!!”

Laurie Ringler: “David’s or Gadwall’s, but that’s only because I live north of the river. Special occasions call for Big Orange.”

Emilie F. Partis: “Top choice is always and will always be the herbed butter burger at Purple Cow (with a triple treat chocolate malt just to insure the heart attack factor!). Second runners up would be the cheeseburger at Big Orange or at Cothams in Scott.”

Alicia Tuggle: “When The Butcher Shop does their Friday lunch burger, other than that I mostly go for terrace restaurant for convenience for the taste and the price is good too. Plus it’s usually enough for me to have 2 meals out of due to the fries too (I always order the night time fries if it’s lunch).”

Vicki Funkkjunkie Weber: “Big Orange Midtown always. Hickory smoke burger. And dying to try the Razorback! And we now have one of the Burgers, Pies and Fries places that started in Jacksonville here in Conway. It’s a great burger but I’m not a fan of the “cheese” or the bun.”

Danny Huber: “I like all the burger comments. The hidden gems in this thread are Bobby’s Cafe and Monkey Burger. If you haven’t been…GO!”

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15 Noteworthy Fried Foods in Little Rock

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Duck Wings at South on Main

This is the South … and we certainly know a thing or two about damn good fried food. And while I am constantly trying to decrease my grease intake, there’s just no denying all the wonderful options we have right here in Little Rock.

So I decided to come up with a list of my 15 Noteworthy Fried Foods in our town. Are they the best? Maybe … maybe not. But because this is such a broad category and there are so many dishes I’ve yet to try, I’m hesitant to make this a “Best Of” list.

Enough with the semantics … let’s get to it!

K Hall & Son’s Fried Pork Chop
Never been to K Hall? It’s the grocery/eatery off Wright Avenue serving up one of the better fried pork chops you’ll find. Side note: K Hall marks the first time I ever ate my food while sitting on a curb right outside an establishment.

Torito’s Churros
Torito’s, much like K Hall, is a both a restaurant and a small grocery store. They serve up fresh Mexican pastries, none better than the fried donut sticks covered in cinnamon and sugar, also known as churros.

Banana Leaf’s Samosa
Gosh, I’m just happy that Banana Leaf, the food truck located just a stone’s throw from UAMS, is back in business. I do love me some of their Chicken 65, but when I’m not looking to burn the heck out of my mouth, I generally opt for the potato-filled, piping hot samosas.

Doe’s Fried Shrimp
Well smack my ass and call me Charlie … Doe’s does some pretty mean fried shrimp. The soft, lightly fried crust is what I enjoy most about these jumbo-sized bad boys.

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Gus’s Fried Chicken

Gus’s Fried Chicken
Did you really think I’d make a “fried food list” and not include Gus’s fried chicken?

Lassis Inn’s Buffalo Ribs
These are massive, fantastically fried fish ribs. Take a moment to process that information. The mild white fish comes off the bone with ease and is best washed down with a nearly freezing 40-oz beer. Lassis Inn is a must-visit for any Little Rockian.

The Faded Rose’s Wedge Fries
Regulars to this blog know the love affair I have with these oversized hunks of potato goodness. Soft in the middle and crispy on the outside, the fries are best eaten after a good dipping in the accompanying ranch sauce.

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Buffalo Ribs at Lassis Inn

Ciao Baci’s Fried Chicken
I LOVE the thick, crispy crust chef Owens is able to achieve on his fried chicken. It ain’t cheap, but he uses a quality bird and you can count on it being fried just right.

Bossa Nova’s Mandioca Frita
Say that three times in a row. These boiled, then deep fried chunks of yucca root are just so awesomely addictive. Deep each piece into the spicy ketchup, and you’ve got an excellent appetizer for two.

Table 28’s Fried Brussels Sprouts
Deep.fried.Brussels.sprouts.

Chi’s Sweet and Sour Fish
Maybe it was a dream, but I’m pretty sure my wife once ordered this off-menu dish from the Shackleford location, prompting me to then re-new our wedding vows. Thin cuts of white fish are deep fried and served up with some typical sweet and sour sauce. Oh so good!

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Table 28’s Brussels Sprouts

Franke’s Chicken Tenders
I could literally eat these five times a week. Thick, juicy (when they haven’t been sitting in the bin for a long time) pieces of monster chicken tenders, with that flakey salt and pepper coating, are paired best with the honey mustard.

Hillcrest Artisan Meats’ Pan Fried Pork Loin Sandwich
I haven’t seen this on their menu in a while, but if they put it back on, go get it. A thin piece of pork loin is pan fried in extra virgin olive oil, then topped with Dijon mustard, aioli, and all the fixings. Like all of HAM’s sandwiches, it isn’t over the top, rather, just well-constructed from the finest ingredients.

South on Main’s Duck Wings
First, imagine a fried chicken wing…only bigger, meatier, richer in flavor, and just plain better. Then, roll it around in some house-made Buffalo sauce. Finally, thank little 8-pound, 6-ounce new born baby Jesus that chef Bell comes up with fun food items. You’ll only find the fried duck wings on SoM’s bar menu, and even then, you won’t see them very often.

The Southern Gourmasian’s Fried Egg
No one, I mean no one, does a better fried egg in Little Rock than chef Patterson. His poached version is pretty damn spectacular as well, but that’s a post for another day.

OK Little Rock, when fried foods did I miss? Would love to know in the comment box below.

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