A fast rundown on some of my recent eating experiences…

Mike’s Café Does Pho Right
It’s getting chilly outside, which means I’ll probably be eating some type of pho around Little Rock at least once a week. Mike’s Café is definitely the best in town, but I was also pleasantly surprised by my recent take-out order of chicken chow fun, pork fried rice, and mixed vegetables with tofu. The rice and noodles were both a tad greasy, but each dish was still quite tasty. My only complaint was the very slow service. I called in my order 15 minutes in advance and had to wait another 30 minutes at the restaurant.

Local Lime, FTW
The green chile stew at Local Lime has come up a lot recently on the blog, and for good reason, it’s pretty fantastic. I’m not sure how long it will be on the current menu, but do yourself a favor and go grab a quick bowl. The stew has a little heat to it, but a nice dollop of sour cream and a slice of avocado cool things down.

Top Shelf at Big Orange Midtown
Big Orange Midtown just released “A Top Shelf Holiday” cocktail menu by mixologist Luiggi Uzcategui, which features seven high-dollar creations, including a $50 Silver Tears Margarita. I recently split a $23 Choice Old Fashioned with a buddy, and while it was pretty amazing, it will be interesting to see if this menu is embraced by the Little Rock market. I’m not sure it will be, but I commend BO for thinking outside the box and offering up some really creative cocktails.

BBQ Done Right at Smoke Shack Bar-B-Q
I’ve been hard on our local barbeque scene, but I gotta say, my first visit to Smoke Shack Bar-B-Q in Maumelle was pretty dang good. It’s not award-winning barbeque, but I was extremely satisfied with my half-pound orders of chopped brisket, sausage, turkey, and ribs. And that sweet and spicy sauce was excellent! The pork sausage, in particular, really grew on me, as I had a sandwich the next day for lunch with the remaining meat that I took home. The smoke flavor is there, as is the value, which makes Smoke Shack a great option in the area.

The Root Café is Looking Great
Did The Root Café officially double in size? If not, it sure looks like it. It now, quite frankly, looks like a restaurant, so kudos to everyone involved for transforming this SoMa eatery into a place that can now accommodate a greater amount of diners. Oh, and get the doughnut muffin for breakfast.

Snapper at South on Main
The snapper with smoked tomato jam and zucchini latke is a must-order at South on Main. I think some people look at a market like Little Rock and think we can’t get good fish. Not true. If you don’t believe me, order the snapper (dinner service only) and report back.

Gluttony at The Pantry Crest
A post-Nutcracker celebration at The Pantry Crest found us ordering The Board, Brussels sprouts, bacon-wrapped dates, cabbage, salmon, cheesecake, flatbread pizza, and a variety of other dishes. It was all perfection, which as many of you know, is typical outcome at both Pantry locations. Service was also spot-on.

Crawfish Étouffée at The Faded Rose
About twice a year, I get a craving for the crawfish etoufee at The Faded Rose. It’s an incredibly hearty dish, but perfect for eating half at the restaurant and the other half for lunch the next day, which is exactly what I did last week.