Living in Little Rock for two years has finally allowed me to build up a strong list of restaurants to bring my out-of-town guests. These places must obviously have excellent food, but also offer great service and an atmosphere that truly reflects the essence of Little Rock. So, I figured…why not create a list of my Top 10 Restaurants to Take Out-of-Towners? Here goes…and these are in ranking order:
10. Big Orange Midtown
One of the restaurants from Little Rock’s greatest success stories had to make this list, so I opted for BO Midtown. The atmosphere is hip, the cocktails are in the top 3 in the city, and the food is usually on-point.
Tip: Sit at the beautiful bar and gab with the knowledgeable bartenders while crushing a cocktail and a turkey burger with sweet potato fries.
9. One Eleven
One Eleven, the new version of the old Ashley’s, is located inside the Capital Hotel and definitely belongs on this list. For one, it’s fine dining at its finest, and a “special occasion” type restaurant needs to be included.
Tip: Go for lunch and order the $16 express lunch … a great value and you get to try out several small dishes.
8. Lassis Inn
It ain’t fancy and may not be in the nicest area of town, but I personally could care less. The old school setting and insanely small booths will leave your guests with lasting memories. And so will the fried catfish and buffalo ribs.
Tip: Order an ice-cold 40 oz. beer, but remember, no dancing.
7. The Southern Gourmasian Food Truck
The brick-and-mortar is in the works, but for now, The Southern Gourmasian is a food truck, and a damn great one. The best, in fact, Little Rock has to offer. Take an out-of-towner and watch their face light up after a bite of the spicy chicken and dumplings.
Tip: Go for breakfast at the Hillcrest Farmers Market and order the Moco Loko.
6. Doe’s Eat Place
Does it have the character of the original in Greenville, MS? Maybe, maybe not. But hell, this is where Clinton did his thing back in the day, and the food, especially the 3-lb Porterhouse, is simply fantastic.
Tip: Save room for some fried shrimp and soaked salad…and yes, even the Delta-style tamales.
5. Hillcrest Artisan Meats
This new-school butcher shop with old-school values sits in the heart of Hillcrest and consistently churns out one of the best sandwiches in Little Rock. Seating is limited, but that’s part of what gives H.A.M its charm.
Tip: Pass on the bag of chips and get the lentil salad as your side.
4. The Root Café
The kitchen is small, and thus, the service can at times be slow, but The Root Café IS Little Rock. It’s one of the few places in town serving a quality breakfast, and that alone earns it a spot on this list.
Tip: Vegetarians rejoice…the tofu scrambler is legit. Carnivores should definitely order the sausage gravy and biscuits.
3. Vino’s Brewpub
Sure, Vino’s is a little musty, but that just spells c-h-a-r-a-c-t-e-r. The pizza is some of the best in town and so is the beer. Take a guest, sit inside by the beer tanks, watch a game and tell me that’s not all Little Rock.
Tip: Don’t sleep on the chef’s salad … it’s good.
2. Capital Bar and Grill
CBG is right across the way from One Eleven inside the Capital Hotel, but is a bit more casual and has a menu more reflective of what Little Rock does best, highlighted by their famous pimento sandwich.
Tip: Get the smoked catfish burger and thank me later.
1. South on Main
No place puts the entire package together like South on Main–great food, casually cool atmosphere, top-notch cocktails and consistently good service. If you have only one spot to take guests, this is your place.
Tip: Check out their website for scheduled musical performances. It doesn’t get any better than listening to some jazz while downing an Old Fashioned and some fried duck wings at South on Main.
Grab a beer: Stone’s Throw Brewing
Pop in for a pastry/coffee: Mylo Coffee Co.
Cool dessert: Loblolly Ice Cream (inside The Green Corner Store)