Posts Tagged One Eleven

Breakfast Options in Little Rock Are Limited, But Do Exist

Biscuits & Gravy at The Root

Biscuits & Gravy at The Root

 

I hear it all the time … “We really lack in breakfast options here in Little Rock .”  It’s a fair assessment, and while the food scene would be much improved with more quality breakfast spots, for this post, I wanted to focus on what we do have … and break things down into various groups.

Group 1 – Places I’d Highly Recommend (3)

The Root Cafe, At the Corner, Boulevard Bistro

Details: These three places are the three elite breakfast options in town. At the Corner and The Root both have great pancakes, but the go-to items are the breakfast burrito at At the Corner and the biscuits and gravy at The Root. The smoked salmon bialy and The Breakfast Sandwich are the stars at Boulevard.

Group 2 – Places I’ve Never Had Breakfast At, But Would be Shocked if it Wasn’t Great (2)

One Eleven at the Capital, Leo’s Greek Castle

Details: Granted, One Eleven is a pretty upscale place for breakfast, something many of us just aren’t looking for. But if you’re in the area and want to treat yourself to something special,  I imagine the breakfast at One Eleven is pretty fantastic. In terms of atmosphere, Leo’s is the complete opposite of One Eleven, but if the breakfast is half as good as their cheeseburger, then we’ve got ourselves a winner.

Group 3 – Places I’ve Never Been To, But REALLY Want to Try (2)

Taqueria Guadalajara, Gadwall’s Grill

Details: I give folks shit all the time for not getting in their cars and literally driving the extra mile to eat at different restaurants across the city. But I can be a hypocrite at times, because the reason I’ve never been to either Guadalajara or Gadwall’s is directly related to distance. From the looks of it, Guadalajara has a limited, 4-item breakfast. Gadwall’s does biscuits with chocolate gravy, from what I’m told.

Group 4 – Places I Know Nothing About, But Were Mentioned on the Blog (4)

BJ’s Market Cafe, Red Door, Littlefields, B Side

Details: As stated, I know nothing about the breakfast at these places. Maybe you do … and maybe they are great.

Group 5 – Place That is Just Plain Solid, But Not Spectacular (1)

Mugs Cafe

Details: Mugs Cafe has changed ownership and I haven’t been there in several months, but the place always served a very solid breakfast, including dishes like an egg-white omelet and breakfast tacos. The service has always been consistent, and although the menu won’t wow you, I’ve never left Mugs disappointed.

Group 6 – Places I Know Exist, But Ain’t Knocking Down the Door to Try (6)

Ozark Country Restaurant, Homer’s East and West, DownHome Restaurant & Catering, Frontier Diner, Delicious Temptations

Details: I haven’t heard many good things about Ozark, and while I’ve had good lunches at Homer’s East, the dinner at Homer’s West didn’t inspire a return visit. Truthfully, I’ve eaten breakfast at DownHome once, right when it first opened, but didn’t care for the food. That said, it was early in its existence, and it wouldn’t surprise me if things got a lot better. Frontier Diner makes a mean patty melt for lunch but is a difficult location for me to get to in the morning.

Group 7 – Places to Grab a Quick Donut, Pastry, Smoothie, Etc. (3)

Mark’s Do-Nut Shop, Mylo Coffee Co., I Love Juice Bar, El Torito

Details: Of course there are more than three of these types of places in town, but these are the three I recommend for a quick bite. The chocolate banana muffin at Mylo is elite and donuts at Mark’s are the best you’ll find in this area. Get the Acai Bowl at I Love Juice Bar … you’ll be good ’til lunch.

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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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20 Suggestions for Valentine’s Day in Little Rock

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We’re less than 14 days from Valentine’s Day, which is the perfect time to start looking at menus and making reservations. I’ve scoured the internet to find local menus, specials, and places that are taking reservations. I’m sure there are many more specials, but these are the ones I could find thus far. Also, this is not to say these are the only restaurants you should consider going to on V-Day. If prix fixe menus aren’t your thing, many restaurants are open for business and offering their standard menu. In short, if going out on Valentine’s Day is your thing, check out the info below and click on the links for more details. Finally, if you’re a restaurant who is offering a special that I failed to include below, please message me and I’ll be glad to update the post.

Menus…

The Southern Gourmasian
South on Main: available 2/10, 2/11, 2/14
One Eleven: V-Day hotel package also available
Table 28: V-Day hotel package also available
Cache: available 2/10, 2/11, 2/13, 2/14)
Capeo: 3-course wine dinner, available 2/13 (click the link and scroll down for info)
Vesuvio Bistro
Heritage Grille, Steak and Fin
Del Frisco’s Grille
Canvas at the Arkansas Arts Center

Taking Reservations…

The Pantry and The Pantry Crest
Arthur’s Steakhouse
Kemuri

Other Specials…

Flyway Brewing: The Flyway Bouquet
Rocktown Distillery: Whiskey and Chocolate Pairing, available 2/12
Izard Chocolate: So Hoppy Together, available 2/12
Cocoa Belle Chocolates: Pop Up Shop on 2/10
Cocoa Rouge: Per 1/30 FB update, has delivered fresh chocolate to Eggshells and Colonial Wine and Sprits
2017 Chocolate Fantasy Ball
Blue Cake Company

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My 50 Favorite Dishes of 2015

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It was another great year of covering food, and per usual, my eating experiences were filled with many highs and lows. This post is dedicated to my favorite dishes in Little Rock for 2015. This isn’t a “Best Of” post. These aren’t necessarily the best dishes in the city, just my favorite plates of food I ate over the course of the past 12 months. And this isn’t a rambling, kiss ass-fest. Just a nice list of dishes with some brief descriptions. If you get a chance, please try them all out in 2016.

Tofu Pad Thai at kBird – It’s a staple in Thai cuisine and kBird does it righter than rain. You’ll be tempted to get the chicken, but the tofu is where it’s at.

Burrata at Raduno – Who in their right mind wouldn’t eat the hell out of a ball of mozzarella? The burrata is the perfect way to start a meal at Raduno.

Breakfast Taco at South on Main – These are best breakfast tacos I’ve found in LR. Bell and his crew serve them during brunch service, and they come with a fried egg, chorizo, and diced red onions.

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Vermicelli Bowl at Mike’s Café – It’s your typical Vietnamese vermicelli bowl, but there’s something about the texture of the noodles that separate this one from the competition.

Fries at Boulevard Bistro – These wildly addictive fries (or frites) are a must-order on any visit to Boulevard.

Beet Salad at The Fold – They’ve changed this dish up a bit, but it’s still fantastic and if you love pickled beets, you should definitely get an order or two for the table.

Bread Pudding at Maddie’s – As with most dishes at Maddie’s, you will literally get fatter just reading it off the menu. This is classic, stick-to-your-bones bread pudding.

Yazoo at Layla’s – This double crusted, cheese stuffed pizza is one of the most underrated dishes in all of Little Rock. It never gets mentioned with some of the best pies in town, but it should.

Leeks at One Eleven – Ten dishes from One Eleven could have ended up on this list, but I particularly enjoyed the side plate of warm, tender leeks with pecans. And as always, plating, right behind taste, is a top priority to the kitchen.

Green Papaya Salad at kBird – If you’ve never had green papaya salad, or for that matter, Thai food, then broaden your horizons a bit in 2016 and head down to kBird. Start with this sweet and tangy salad.

Brick-Pressed Prosciutto at H.A.M. – This is the best sandwich in Little Rock, and honestly, it’s the brick pressing everything together that makes it so damn good.

Fried Shrimp at Doe’s Eat Place – Little Rock, keep your Delta-style tamales and give me an extra order of these jumbo fried shrimp. I almost like them more than the 3-lb., medium rare Porterhouse. Almost.

Farmers Market Splendor at Trio’s – This seasonal dish is a collection of local veggies all on one plate. The fried okra is not to be missed and neither is the corn salad or sliced tomatoes.

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Shrimp and Grits at Ciao Baci – Damn, I really had a lot of good shrimp and grits in 2015, and Ciao Baci’s version on it’s tasting menu was also spot on. Using top-notch shrimp makes all the difference for this very picky Gulf coast guy.

Ramen at The Southern Gourmasian – Early in 2015, I was in Charleston (a titan in the southern food scene), and had a bowl of ramen at one of the city’s top spots. A week later, I tried the ramen at The Southern Gourmasian, which ended up being a lot better.

Watermelon Sorbet at Ciao Baci – Oh, hello again, Ciao Baci. We fortunately stumbled upon this dessert, as the staff at CB happily substituted the watermelon sorbet for the usual dessert course on the tasting menu.

Pork Shoulder at Table 28 – Without question, this was the best barbeque I ate in 2015 inside the Little Rock city limits. I think it’s a seasonal menu, so check things out before you head to Table 28 in search of this smoky, super tender and surprisingly lean pork shoulder.

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Italian Sausage & Peppadew Pizza at Deluca’s – I’m including Deluca’s (even though it’s in Hot Springs) on this list. Why? Because it’s my damn list and this is the best pizza anywhere. The sweet and spicy combination of the Italian sausage and pappadews is irresistible.

Scallops at One Eleven – I rarely order scallops in Little Rock, but One Eleven has an excellent supplier, so if your hankering for some sweetness of the sea, this is it.

Mashed Potatoes at South on Main – One bite, yes, one bite of my buddy’s mashed potatoes (on the chicken fried steak plate) lands this on my list. With so many restaurants doing piss poor mashed potatoes these days, I no longer take great ones for granted.

Buffet at Al Seraj – No, technically a buffet isn’t a dish, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to recognize this hidden gem of a spot in WLR. Go try out the $10 lunch buffet and tell me that isn’t some of the freshest, best tasting Mediterranean food around.

Fried Chicken at CBG – The supper crunchy crust and moist meat is what separates this fried chicken from the rest in this town.

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Pancakes at The Root – Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of ordering pancakes, but The Root’s pancakes are just too hard to resist.

Green Gumbo at CBG – Finicky gumbo eaters may frown upon this greens-based version, but you’ll find nothing but love for it from me.

Bouillabaisse at Boulevard Bistro – Check to make sure it’s on the menu, as I think they rotate the bouillabaisse in and out. This dish is a paradise for seafood lovers, and really is the only time I’ll recommend ordering mussels in this city (pictured at the top).

Pork Loin at Maddie’s – Listen, we all know and love Maddie’s Place by now. It’s no secret they churn out some of the best food in town. And while it’s tough to pass on the BBQ shrimp and/or shrimp and grits … please, please, please give this pork loin with house-made Worcestershire sauce and butter-soaked Brussels a shot.

Chicken Milanesa Torta at Super 7 Grocery – My goodness, this is such an underrated sandwich. Super 7 is located on John Barrow Road and is a perfect quick lunch spot, especially if you have an affinity for tortas. A pounded- then fried- chicken breast is never a bad thing.

Fried Spring Rolls at Fantastic China – I am always on the prowl for a good egg/spring roll and about the only one worth a damn in LR is at Fantastic China.

Jagerschnitzel at The Pantry – I’d adopt this dish and make it part of my fam if I could. Earlier this year, I described it as a big food hug, and I’ll stand by that. Thin pork is breaded, fried, placed over a bed of spaetzle, and topped with the most delicious gravy and mushrooms.

Smoked Bologna Sandwich at Sim’s BBQ – This sandwich will not be on next year’s list because my wife won’t allow me to eat it more than once every three years. This widow-maker consists of a slab of smoked bologna topped with slaw and soupy bbq sauce.

Posole at Trio’s – Honestly, this was one of the true surprises of the year. Never did I think I’d find honest-to-goodness authentic posole at Trio’s. Folks, this stuff is the real deal … especially those insanely tender piles of shredded pork.

Green Shrimp Curry at kBird – Sweet, a little sour, and a tad spicy … the green shrimp curry really has it all to ignite your taste buds.

Blackened Ribeye at The Faded Rose – The ribeye at The Faded Rose is just a great cut of meat prepared to perfection and all at a very reasonable price.

Shrimp Soup at Rosalinda’s – This eatery in NLR gets very little attention from folks south of the river. If you go, get this mammoth bowl of shrimp soup. The creamy tomato broth and intense shrimp flavor make it a winner.

Pickle Fried Chicken Taco at Heights Taco & Tamale Co. – The unique combination of flavors in this compact taco lands it in my top 50.

Ceviche at Local Lime – The ceviche at Local Lime got a total redesign. Talk about going from a zero to a hero. Sit at the bar with an order of it and a frozen margarita and you’ve got yourself a damn good Friday night.

Deviled Eggs at The Pantry – As long as I eat the deviled eggs each year, expect them to end up on this list. They’re so creamy and delicious and cute and just awesome. The Parm crisp topper takes it to another level.

Duck Neck Poutine at South on Main – Man, they had this on Special one night and it was so freaking good. No cheese curds like traditional poutine, but the perfect fries, bits of duck neck meat, and thick gravy made up for that.

Shrimp Po’Boy at Table 28 – We have no shortage of great shrimp po’boys in this town and Table 28’s is the best, due in large part to the enormous shrimp Chef Rains throws on it.

Rosalinda Plato at Rosalinda’s – The thin beef steak, sliced avocado, and a mixture of rice and beans is just too good not include on this list.

Mama Chi’s Spicy Fish at Chi’s – I’ve written about this dish countless times, and unlike some other dishes at Chi’s, it never disappoints. Beware…it can be quite spicy, which I view as a good thing.

Chicken Tenders at Franke’s – Some things never change, like the awesomeness of Franke’s fried chicken tenders. Dipped in honey mustard, it doesn’t get much better than these babies.

Pork Dumplings at Three Fold – With limited options on a purposefully small menu, quality through consistency is the name of the game over at Three Fold. No item better represents this than the steamed pork dumplings.

Thin Fish at The Faded Rose – If I had the metabolism of a 15-year-old and the cholesterol level of a marathon runner, I’d eat this fried catfish once a week.

Baked Pimento Cheese at Boulevard – Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of pimento cheese, but have learned to love it over the past 4 years. That said, there’s no denying the greatness of the baked version at Boulevard.

Wedge Fries at The Faded Rose – Best fries in the city. I love them, much like a mama cheetah loves her young cats. That made no sense, but you get my drift.

Monkey Bread at Mylo Coffee Co. – Every now and then I break down and order a pastry at Mylo Coffee Co. In 2015, it didn’t get better than that mini monkey bread.

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Chicken Enchiladas w/ Verde Sauce at El Palenque – El Palenque is the best Mexican food in Little Rock and the chicken enchiladas sit at the very top of the menu’s awesomeness. My wife could eat this dish 5 times a week.

Chicken Burger at David’s – The beef burgers tend to fall on the greasier side of late, so I usually opt for this slightly healthier ground chicken burger.

Queens Deluxe Pizza at NYPD – This pizza gets almost no love, and that’s a shame, because with it’s plentiful toppings and thin, chewy crust, NYPD really is some of the best pizza in town.

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