Dishes sometimes surprise you with their greatness at places where you least expect to see them. Below are my 10 Unexpected Food Delights in Little Rock.

Pizza at Layla’s

I like Layla’s just as much as the next guy, but the next guy seems to always order the gyro or Yogurt Plate. Hey, don’t rest on the pizza. Whether it’s a plain cheese or the stuffed Yazoo, I think you’ll find that Layla’s pizza is an unexpected excellent option.

Coffee at Trio’s

You’d expect to find a great cup of coffee at places like Mylo, Boulevard, and Guillermo’s. Hell, coffeehouses are exploding in this town, but did you know that one of the best cups in Little Rock is at Trio’s? It’s true. A special Westrock Coffee French roast is delivered to the restaurant on a weekly basis and is ground daily. Trio’s brews it with less water than recommended, making it 1.5 times the normal ratio of water-to-coffee. Try it with a piece of Key lime pie.

Ginger Cookies at kBird

If you see a jar next to the register filled with cookies, just take a chance and get one or two. You’ll be glad you did. I’ve known some people who buy the entire damn jar, leaving none for the rest of us fine folks. Anyways, they are the most delicious ginger cookies, and this is coming from a guy who really doesn’t care for ginger cookies. Yes, you’ll be focused on pad Thai and shrimp curry, but save a little room for the cookies … if they have them!

40-oz at Lassis Inn

40-oz Beer at Lassis Inn

Not to sound like a d-bag, but I rarely drink big brand beer. Except at Lassis Inn. While the main draw is fried catfish and Buffalo ribs, you’d be foolish not to partake in one of the best beers in town, an ice cold (and I mean cold) 40-oz Bud. Temperature is everything, and this chilly beer pairs wonderfully with the fried fish.

Ribs at South on Main

Go figure, the best restaurant ribs in town should reside in a BBQ shop. They don’t. They’re at South on Main, specifically, on the dinner menu, and if you can pry yourself away from classics like smothered pork chops, seared catfish, and chicken spaghetti, the baby back ribs will surely delight. Smokey, savory, and with a slight sweetness on the crust, these ribs are an excellent dinnertime option.

Beef Tenderloin at Kemuri

Beef Tenderloin at Kemuri

I don’t know about you, but when I think of Kemuri, extravagant sushi rolls are the first things that pop into my head. And while what I’m about to write shouldn’t be all that surprising (given their same ownership as Arthur’s), one of the best steaks in Little Rock is found at Kemuri. The beef tenderloin in a ponzu BBQ sauce and tempura onion rings is a must-order.

Salad at Maddie’s Place

Listen, I get it. When there are gut-busting dishes like shrimp and grits, grilled oysters, steaks, and fried chicken on the menu, going to Maddie’s Place for a salad seems foolish. BUT … the salad with house-smoked salmon with romaine, tomatoes, red onion, candied walnuts and lemon-herb vinaigrette will make you forget about the red beans and rice, if only for a minute. Those candied walnuts, alone, are worth it.

Pasta at Milford Track

Pasta at Milford Track

Should one of the only places in Little Rock that makes its own pasta be a small deli located in the basement of a WLR office building? No. But this is exactly what Milford has been doing for a long time. Choose from six, made-to-order pasta flavors and eight sauces and be sure to add the grilled veggies. For $8.50, you’re talking about one of the better values in town.

Chicken Sandwich at David’s Burgers

David’s continues to be one of, if not the, #1 burger joint in the Little Rock area. And as much as I like the classic single beef burger, the chicken sandwich is my go-to order. This thin-pattied, course ground chicken is a nice, slightly healthier option … giving you more room for the bottomless French fries.

Fried Pickles at Professor Bowl

Fried Pickles at Professor Bowl

Is it all that unexpected that a bowling alley serves up decent fried food? Of course not. What is surprising is how well Professor Bowl does fried pickle chips. Served with a side of ranch (of course), these thinly sliced, scantily battered pickles will make you show up to the alley just for the food.

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