I’m just gonna come out and say it- Little Rock has some of the best restaurants. Food is my love language. There’s nothing I enjoy more than going to a restaurant with a great atmosphere and having a drink and a meal with my husband or friends. I’ve been lucky enough to do some traveling and all of my best experiences have had to do with food. Pasta in Italy, croissants in France, seafood in Anna Maria Island, street tacos in Mexico, pork chop on a stick at the Iowa State Fair …the list goes on and on. When we moved here, we went out once a week and tried a new restaurant. Then we found some of our favorites and didn’t try anywhere new for awhile. Lately, we’ve been venturing out and finding some new places to eat. I started following @littlerockfoodie on Instagram and started a list of places I need to go.
To me, a restaurant has to not only have great food, but they have to have an enjoyable atmosphere. Sometimes I want a quiet place, sometimes I want a loud place with a ton of music, or a sports bar if I’m wanting to watch a game. I’ve been told I have high standards when it comes to the food- that’s probably from watching too much Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food Network. I’ll try just about any type of food- I just won’t eat mushrooms or watermelon. Eww…I’m also picky when it comes to cocktails. I don’t like anything made with a pre-made, sugary mix. Gross. If I’m gonna waste calories on booze, it has to be a GOOD cocktail. Luckily, I’ve found all of that here in Arkansas. It blows my mind that we’ve lived here a year already and there’s so many places I’m just now discovering. There are so many Arkansas owned restaurants that only use local produce and meat. That means the taste is fresher and the flavor is amazing. I’m picky about that too. I don’t want a boring old chicken sandwich and fries. I want good ingredients and don’t want to feel like my stomach is going to explode later. With that said, here’s a list of some of my favorites.
Local Lime. I know tacos are a big trend right now, but to me, a boring old Ortega taco isn’t that great. A real taco is still the best. Some people call them street tacos. Whatever. My hairstylist had posted a pic of Local Lime on her Insta stories and after I drooled over the food, I looked it up. Since I love Taco Hangover in Des Moines, I figured I’d like this as well. Actually, I liked it better! The atmosphere is really laid back and it’s advertised as “fresh-Mex”. I had the Texas Two Step cocktail with Mezcal.(Mezcal is like tequila’s dirty uncle- it’s a smoky version of tequila and it’s incredible!) The guacamole was to die for and the carnitas tacos were the best I’ve ever had. We’re definitely going back again- and hopefully soon!
The Big Orange. I first saw The Big Orange on littlerockfoodie’s Instagram. After hiking all the way up Pinnacle Mountain last weekend, James announced he wanted a burger. We discovered we were less than 10 minutes away from The Big Orange Midtown so we drove there rather than try to cook. The burger was perfect, but the truffle fries were my favorite part of the meal. I want to eat truffle fries every day now. If you like burgers and beer, you need to check this out.
Skinny J’s. Several people recommended this place, so I figured we had to try it out. We stopped in one night to have a drink and we couldn’t quit staring at the plates of food being brought out. We’ve been there twice for brunch now. Both times I had the Gringo Breakfast boat- without jalapenos or beans. When my mom and sister visited, we ate there and they both loved it too. My sister got chicken strips and fries because it’s about the only thing she orders when we go out but she said there were really good. I’ve heard the steak is their specialty but James makes such great steak I hardly order it when we’re out! The Bloody Mary’s were really nice and spicy and the mimosas are mostly champagne. You can’t beat that!
Ristorante Capeo. My physical thereapist’s friend owns this and he recommended it to me. Now, I’m picky about Italian food. After eating in Italy, The Olive Garden doesn’t cut it. This was a treat! It’s a great date night restaurant and the food is ….amazing. James got the fish special with lemon risotto and I got the Campanelle Pasta with Pancetta. So good! I don’t even like pasta much, but I wanted to lick this plate clean. I didn’t because we were in public, but I wanted to. Some of our friends are coming to visit for their anniversary and I told them they need to have dinner here one night. I’ve heard you need to make reservations on a Saturday night but we went at 5:00 and were seated immediately- we’re old and we like to eat early. I want to go back to try the pizza.
Lost 40 Brewery. Sometimes, breweries have the best food! Lost 40 is my favorite brewery I’ve ever been to. You can actually watch them brew beer from the restaurant. The first time I was there I had brisket and the second time, I had a breakfast hash with a Brewmosa. That’s their blonde beer mixed with orange juice. I thought it would be gross but it was really good! I’ve heard their pancakes are the best but haven’t tried them yet. The bartenders are always really friendly and they have some great merchandise if you’re into that. My husband bought me a Lost 40 baseball hat that I wear quite a bit. I’m not a huge beer fan, but I’ve enjoyed every type of beer I’ve tried there too. If you are into craft beer, this is a place you need to go. I can’t seem to find their website, but check them out on Facebook and Instagram. They update quite often!
Burrito Day. This restaurant isn’t in Little Rock- it’s in Searcy. But since I work in Searcy and eat here at least once a week, it’s worth the mention. They have the same concept as Chipotle but the food is sooooooo much better. Everything is really fresh because it’s sourced locally. I get nearly the same thing every time I”m in there – chicken burrito bowl with brown or white rice, greens, green onion, pico de gallo, tomatoes, salsa, and guac. I stopped in one day and got breakfast and that was pretty tasty as well. They make pastries every day but I didn’t get those- I’m not a big sweets fan! Best of all, you get exactly what you ask for and no weird ingredients. When my mother in law and stepkids visited, we went there for lunch and she said it was better than Chipotle! When my sister and mom visited, we went there and they loved it too.
Tacos4Life. I almost didn’t go to this place because it is fast food and has a drive through. I know, I’m such a pretentious snob. I’m glad I did though because this ain’t your shitty fast food Mexican place that makes you want to throw up later. These tacos are fresh and have a ton of veggies. I really love the Mahi Mahi and the Korean BBQ tacos. Tacos4Life was founded right here in Central Arkansas and is now franchised. For every taco sold, a MannaPak is purchased for the Feed My Starving Children foundation. The MannaPak holds enough food for up to 24 meals for a hungry child. Every once in awhile, Tacos4Life holds a Mobile Pak event where you can go and help pack the Manna Paks. So when you go and get your delicious tacos, you’re also helping to donate to a worthy cause. Win/Win right?
We’ve tried more places, but those are my new favorites. Little Rock is starting to be known as a culinary destination. Modern Mama’s talked about it on their podcast and recently, The Gentleman Racer posted about Little Rock on his blog, calling it “The South’s Best Kept Secret.” The city is starting to get known for it’s farm to table restaurants and I’ve noticed the number of gluten free options on every menu. If you’re concerned about your food ingredients, you can definitely find something at most restaurants here. Next weekend, my college roommate and her husband are coming to visit for their anniversary. They’re spending one night and part of a day with us and I’m excited to show them around where we live now. That’s another great thing about our new house- we have guest rooms! Next month,my good friend Tiffany and her husband, Luke, are coming to visit for a weekend. Luke and James are running the Summit to Summit Half Marathon. Tiff and I will be at the Ohio Club enjoying mimosas and NOT running. Arkansas is supposed to be in peak color in November and Hot Springs is beautiful!
Now that it’s not 90 degrees everyday, we’ve been exploring other parts of Little Rock as well. Last weekend, we hiked to the top of Pinnacle Mountain. I thought we were going up the moderate trail and James parked in front of the strenuous trail. We made it up, but I thought he was crazy as it was mostly rock climbing. This weekend we took Deuce and went to Two Rivers Park. It’s a bunch of paved walking trails with gorgeous scenery along the river. We walked about 3 miles with the dog and we’ll be going back soon. I’ve also noticed several dog friendly restaurants, but since my dog hates other dogs, we probably won’t be bringing him anytime soon. Later in the fall, I’d like to go to Petit Jean and hike the trail to the waterfall. Central Arkansas has so many walking and hiking trails, it seems crazy to stay inside – especially when you don’t sweat the minute you walk outside!
Hopefully soon, we’ll be heading up to Iowa to visit my stepdaughter and her boyfriend and see their new house. We haven’t seem their baby since June so I’m ready to see her as well! I have to stop myself every time I’m in TJ Maxx because buying baby clothes is so much fun!
Have a good week and go try a new restaurant or a new food- you might just find your new favorite!
** I am not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own- obviously. **