Posts Tagged ZAZA

Boulevard Bistro, Rodney’s, and El Palenque All Shine on Recent Visits

pimento

Baked Pimento at Boulevard Bistro

 

Random thoughts and ramblings on local food and drink…

I went to my first “biker bar” last week, that being Rodney’s Handlebar & Grill on the side of I-30, and I gotta tell you … it was nothing like I expected. But in a good way. Well, honestly, I was not sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised with the clean, comfortable, and inviting setting. The menu was simple, but well-executed, due in large part to the skills of Matt Clark (formerly of Waffle Wagon fame). My chicken BLT with onion rings was spot-on, as was my buddy’s fried bologna sandwich. Go check the place out … I feel quite confident you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Plus, you can tell people that you ate at a biker bar, which is good for street cred.

I took my in-laws to South on Main for the first time. Stellar service and excellent food and drinks seem to have kept me in good standing, for the time being. My Old-Fashioned still rates as the best version in town, and the same can be said for the restaurant’s double patty cheeseburger with bacon jam, which came with a side of fries and soaked salad. We love our burgers in Little Rock–as evident by the almost-rioting that breaks out when I bring it up on the blog–and South on Main’s version has quickly become a personal favorite. The melted pimento cheese and crusty exterior of the patties are what put it over the top. I rarely order a cheeseburger for dinner in such upscale settings, but this one is the exception.

It looks like Honey Pies is beginning to crank up its coffee service, which is good news because the pies and ice cream are on point. I ordered the fudge brownie and apple pies for a party and both were well received. Honey Pies is now offering $5 mini pies, which is a nice alternative, especially if you want to try out a pie without making a major commitment.

Maybe giving food tours in Little Rock is my new thing…because I really enjoy it. I was honored to give a tour to a wonderful group of folks who were the high bidders for the “Saturday Night in the Heights” silent auction item at this year’s Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance fundraiser. We visited three popular restaurants—Boulevard Bistro, ZAZA, and Heights Taco & Tamale Co.—all on foot, and had a fun time tasting some of Little Rock’s most popular dishes. The frites and baked pimento cheese at Boulevard made the cut, as did the Forager pizza at ZAZA, and the frozen mojitos and chocolate cake at HTT, just to name a few. Special thanks to all of the restaurants for donating to such a wonderful cause and to Brad and Tammy for their winning bid. Here’s to next year!

I can’t get over the amazing veggies coming out of my Fall Farmshare Basket from Rattle’s Garden. The zucchini, purple-hull peas, green beans, and peppers are all wonderful. If you are interested in participating if future programs with RG, please contact their Facebook page. I can’t recommend Tara and her produce highly enough.

Another shout out goes to Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative, a meat share program I’ve been participating in for the past year. I tag the company a lot on my FB posts, so many of you know how much I cook with their meats on a weekly basis. Go check out their website, as they’ve really streamlined the ordering process, while offering good deals on top-notch meat.

It’s easy to forget about the unassuming El Palenque tucked back off Rodney Parham, but that would be a mistake. I love the simple shrimp burrito, even for take-out, which is what we did on Sunday. A side of refried beans with the burrito is also a pro move.

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Little Rock Restaurant Month Hits Midtown

Baja Grill

Baja Grill

 

As many of you already know, Little Rock Restaurant Month is in full swing AND has taken a new approach with things this year. Instead of participating restaurants from all over the city offering specials throughout the entire month, different areas of the city each get a week of specials. August 8-14 marks Midtown’s turn. Below, you’ll find a complete listing, as well as a few of my takes…

American Pie
Free appetizer up to $6 with purchase of a large pizza

Arkansas Burger Co.
$5 hamburger
My take: Solid deal on a good-to-great burger.

Baja Grill
20% off food purchases
Mention restaurant month to get your discount (Alcohol not included)
My take: Another great deal here and Baja does some very good food, especially the Pig Sooie and Cuban tacos. The Triple Dipper appetizer is also a winner, as are the burritos.

Big Orange Midtown
Free cheese dip or hummus with a purchase of a burger or salad

Boulevard Bread Company
$12 Harissa and honey wings served with lemon, cilantro & buttermilk
My take: I’ve never had these wings, but I love Boulevard and can’t imagine this being anything but awesome.

Cafe Bossa Nova
$3 off menu price – deep fried mahi­ mahi strips encrusted with Panko bread crumbs, served on corn tortillas. Topped with napa cabbage, pink chipotle sauce, a mango radish salsa and fresh cilantro with a side of rice and beans.
My take: Bossa Nova doesn’t get a ton of press, so I guess it could be considered underrated. The food is fantastic.

Cajuns
$33 3-course prix fixe: starter, entrée, and dessert.

Cantina Laredo
$17.99 all-day 3-course set menu per person. Includes starter, entrée, and dessert.
My take: True story…I’ve never eaten at Cantina Laredo, but have heard solid reports.

Casa Mañana
$9.99 Fish ceviche with michelada

Cheers
$13 fried green tomatoes with grilled shrimp and remoulade.
My take: I love fried green tomatoes. I love grilled shrimp. And I love remoulade. This seems like a no-brainer.

Ciao Baci
$25 3-course dinner 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
My take: Jump on this one because it’s a great deal on great food. If you’ve never been to Ciao Baci for dinner, this is a perfect opportunity at a lower cost.

Damgoode Pies (2701 Kavanaugh Blvd. & 6706 Cantrell Rd.)
$5 off any 18” pie and half off any appetizer

Graffiti’s
$18 jumbo crab cakes with remoulade sauce over field greens with a side of avocado slices and roasted chicken salad.

Heights Taco & Tamale
Free cheese dip or salsa trio with purchase of an entree or salad

Hillcrest Artisan Meats
$1 off any sandwich order
My take: I’m pretty sure every human living in Little Rock loves H.A.M. and getting a $1 off any sandwich this week might inspire another visit.

Homer’s West
15% off total ticket – mention Restaurant Month to get discount (excluding alcohol)

Juice Bar
1/2 off happy hour 7 AM -9:30 AM Monday-Friday: buy one item, get second item of equal or lesser value half-off (includes smoothie, juice, or food. Excludes smoothie bowls.)

Kemuri
Bogo – buy any sushi roll, get one free (of equal or lesser value)
My take: Best sushi in town, and honestly, this is one of the best deals on the page. The Crazy Monkey Roll is tops. *Update* this deal applies to traditional rolls only.  So no Crazy Monkey Roll. :(

La Terraza
20% off off lunch or dinner. Also: chef’s choice — free appetizer for lunch with purchase of one entrée
My take: Have only eaten at La Terraza once, but I came away impressed. Nice folks and good food.

Layla’s Gyros and Pizzeria (9501 N. Rodney Parham)
$7.25 Gyro sandwich with fries and drink

Leo’s Greek Castle
$9.99 Gyro platter

The Oyster Bar
$3 off 1 lb. shrimp

Potbelly Sandwich Shop
Free milkshake with purchase of a “big” size pastrami sandwich

Riverdale 10 VIP Cinema
$15 chicken tenders, fries and beer of the day.
My take: You can get chicken tenders at a movie theater? Go figure.

Taziki’s (8200 Cantrell Rd.)
Free child’s feast with purchase of adult entree. Dine-in only. Monday- Wednesday 5 PM – 9 PM
My take: Taziki’s is a regional chain serving solid, consistent food. And my kids love it, so I love it.

The Fold Botanas Bar
Free queso with the purchase of any taco plate. Limit one per table.

The Purple Cow (8026 Cantrell Rd.)
Free soft drink or tea with any of our new menu items. New items include fried green beans, supreme cheeseburger, and turkey pesto burger, just to name a few.

Town Pump
$1 off our topsy turvy nachos
My take: The ultimate dive bar serves better-than-expected food.

Trio’s
30% off in celebration of our 30th anniversary. Lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch! Dine-in only. Mention Restaurant Month for discount.
My take: 30% off your entire meal puts this deal right at the top. Get the Farmers Market Splendor.

Zaza
$1 off gelato

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Survey Says: Vino’s, Damgoode, and ZAZA Reign Supreme

vinos

Some of you may disagree with me, but for its size, I think Little Rock really does have a nice selection of quality pizza. I’m not saying we’re going to compete with New York and Chicago anytime in the next 1000 years, but pizza in Little Rock, like most towns, is a big deal.

So I posed this question on Facebook: “What are your 3 favorite pizza places INSIDE Little Rock?”

Right off the bat, I screwed up this informal food poll. By “INSIDE,” I meant to include NLR and anything within 20 minutes of downtown LR. Truthfully, I just didn’t want Deluca’s dominating the conversation, and with all due respect, Hot Springs is far enough away from the LR-area. OK, enough with the semantics, just want did we learn from this very informal survey?

Here are the results:

-195 total mentions

-Top vote getters: Vino’s (30 votes), Damgoode (24 votes), ZAZA (23 votes), Pizza Café (21 votes), Iriana’s (20 votes)

-The Top 5 places grabbed over 60% of the total mentions.

-Other top vote getters included (in order): U.S. Pizza, Raduno. Bruno’s, Terry’s, NYPD, Shotgun Dan’s, Capeo

My thoughts:

1. My top three were Vino’s, NYPD, and Terry’s.

2. Vino’s getting the #1 spot surprised me. Sure, the place has been around forever, but often times, we fall in love with the new kid on the block. It was nice to see that Vino’s is still getting some deserved recognition for producing quality pies.

3. ZAZA and Damgoode being in the top 3 was not at all shocking. Both spots are wildly popular and have insane name recognition. I’m still not well-versed enough on Damgoode to put it anywhere near my top spots, and I feel ZAZA often struggles with consistency issues to warrant such acclaim. Admittedly, I go to ZAZA a lot, so I sample the pizza far more than other places in town, thus giving it many opportunities to shine or fall flat.

4. Terry’s, with only 6 votes, was a bit of a shocker. I expected more votes, however, the restaurant is small and is still fairly new (compared to other places). Several folks even commented on how they’ve yet to try Terry’s.

5. Capeo was in the same boat as Terry’s. I think the low votes were due to me not clarifying that NLR was part of the mix (until later in the thread) and its newness.

6. I have never been to Pizza Café. I know. Deplorable. That will change.

7. I may never understand this market’s love for U.S. Pizza. And that’s OK … food is highly subjective.

8. Raduno started slow with the votes, but finished strong and secured a Top 10 spot, no small feat for a new restaurant.

9. Shotgun Dan’s received 6 votes. Good God!!

10. Mellow Mushroom received 4 votes. And that’s all I got to say about that.

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Around Town: Dining at South on Main, ZAZA, and NYPD Pizza

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Green & White at ZAZA

My recent food adventures around Little Rock…

ZAZA’s Salad & Pizza
Is there a better casual lunch spot to take a group of out-of-towners than ZAZA? I say no. Our friends from Houston seemed to really enjoy the restaurant this past weekend. I guess the Margherita and Green & White pizzas, along with the Sante Fe South and Petit Jean Ranch salads, didn’t hurt ZAZA’s cause. Hey Green & White, where have you been all my life? I never would have thought to order this surprisingly tasty pizza. Glad my friends did … and shared. The heavy hand of garlic, subtle lemon flavor, and the caramelized onions give the Green & White a uniqueness that’s seldom scene in these parts as it pertains to pizza. The Petit Jean Ranch salad, loaded with bacon and ham, is always good, and while I really enjoyed my Sante Fe South with a mixture of red cabbage, avocado, black beans, and corn, it’s high time ZAZA ditched the chunks of chicken that taste and resemble those of the frozen Tyson variety. The bland, heavily breaded chicken is a distraction to an otherwise beautifully executed and tasty salad. Finally, it may seem like a small detail to some folks, but I absolutely love ZAZA’s soda fountain area, which along with David’s Burgers, cranks out the best Diet Dr. Pepper in town.

Wednesday Night at SoM
About once a month, you can generally find me eating good food, partaking in a cocktail, and listening to music on Wednesday nights during South on Main’s Local Live concert. Last week, I was fortunate enough to watch the Heather Smith Band as they damn near blew the roof off the place during a spirited musical performance. My old fashioned, as always, was spot-on and paired well with our appetizer of fried oysters with cucumber, fresh mint, and slivers of radish and jalapenos. I enjoyed this meal starter but felt it was a tad dry–a slight criticism I’ve had with a few South on Main dishes in the past–and could have benefited from a little moisture in the form of possibly a dipping sauce. Our entrees of pan seared catfish with field peas, green beans, and cornmeal pancakes, along with a smoky, perfectly cooked pork chop with fried pickled okra, were happily gobbled up. While I loved my catfish plate, especially those delightful pancakes, the highlight of the meal was that one bite of my buddy’s pork chop. Afterwards, I was tempted to grab the remaining bone off his plate and gnaw on it in the parking lot like a rabid dog. I finished the meal with a delicious cup of coffee and a moist, albeit slightly small, piece of coconut cake. Great food, drinks, and service, along a festive atmosphere, made for a wonderful evening at South on Main.

And More Pizza … at NYPD
NYPD Pizza, in far WLR, is a nice little spot for solid pizza. The restaurant also has a very underrated patio, a great feature, especially during this time of year. We ordered The Queens Deluxe Pie, a supreme pizza which has become our NYPD go-to order. The restaurant isn’t stingy with toppings and somehow the thin, crisp crust is able to hold up under all the mushrooms, Italian sausage, pepperoni, onions, green peppers and cheese. Pass on the calzone. It’s not bad, but a bit too cheesy, even for this mozzarella and ricotta cheese lover. Regarding service, we’ve eaten at NYPD probably ten times over the course of three years and it’s always fast, friendly and very attentive.

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