There’s a good chance that any visitor or newcomer to Little Rock looking for a good meal will very soon find themselves on Kavanaugh Boulevard. The sheer number of high quality restaurants lining this most popular of streets makes Kavanaugh a force to be reckoned with. It’s the culinary life-blood of both The Heights and Hillcrest neighborhoods, providing more good eats than almost any other roadway in this city. Any hungry diner driving this street will be hard-pressed to decide just where to use their precious stomach space. Here’s the 20 reasons that when it comes to good eating, Kavanaugh is King:
First off…if you’re looking to add some spice into your life, consider some of the fine Mexican options found on Kavanaugh:
1. Baja Grill has been rounding up burrito and taco lovers at their Heights location since they converted their once food truck operation to a brick and mortar success. Their patio dining makes for an excellent eating experience any time it’s available. No meal here should be had without an order of their wonderful Triple Dipper appetizer, with white cheese dip, guacamole, and salsa. And you won’t find a better set of burritos in town. Be sure to sample the Cuban (with shredded pork, chipotle aioli, sour orange red cabbage-jicama slaw,cheese, and avocado) or the Pig Sooie (with shredded pork, sweet barbecue sauce, cheddar, slaw, and pickled red onions).
2. And one of the hottest seats in town can currently be found at Heights Taco & Tamale Co. This latest in the Yellow Rocket Concepts line-up has quickly made a favorable impression on hundreds of Little Rock diners, and the masses are flocking here daily to see what all the talk is about. Creative taco options, an interesting assortment of salsas and dips, and some of the best Delta tamales in town are setting the place apart. And don’t skip the sour cream chocolate cake for dessert…it’s all the rage.
How about pizza? Kavanaugh definitely has you covered there. It claims a short list of some of the finest pizza pie makers in town:
3. The Pizzeria at Terry’s has nearly perfected the art of Neapolitan pie. With a lovely wood-fired oven from Naples, Italy and a passion for high quality food, owners Jeremy and Jacquelyn Pittman have quickly set the standard for pizza in this town. There’s numerous great options on their menu, but don’t pass up their “Kale Onion Potato” pie. It may not immediately grab your attention, but it may be the best thing they serve.
4. The undeniably great ZAZA Fine Salad & Wood-Oven Pizza needs to be in every conversation on great pizza. Their reputation for fresh ingredients and exciting flavor profiles keeps their restaurant packed almost every night of the week. There’s no wrong way to order here…but their “Zapreme” with pepperoni, house-made Italian sausage, caramelized onion, mushroom, and kalamata olives will always hold a special place in my heart.
5. With several locations across the city, getting your hands on a slice from Damgoode Pies is easier than ever. But Kavanaugh residents have made this Hillcrest location one of the most successful branches in town. No matter what you like on your pie…add their creamy, slightly spicy signature pink sauce is never a bad idea.
6. Their Hillcrest location offers a great porch, a large indoor space for company parties, and some solid pizza, salad, and sandwich options…and it’s no wonder US Pizza Co. has remained successful. So successful, in fact, they’re able to boast two locations along Kavanaugh…something no other business in this part of town is able to claim. Both Hillcrest and Heights pizza-lovers have made US Pizza a regular part of their dining rotation.
If you’ve got a hankering for sushi, look no further than Kavanaugh…it’s got some of the best.
7. Sushi Cafe remains one of the most successful sushi joints in town. Their quirky and fun menu offers all the standards like sashimi, nigiri, and specialty rolls, but also an assortment of steaks, pastas, and under-rated burgers. Never a bad option when in the area.
8. Kemuri offers much more than sushi, but their sushi may just be the best in town. Not to mention, they serve some spectacular Thai dishes, too. Give the Pad Thai or Panang Curry a shot next time you’re in there, you won’t likely be disappointed. And if you’re coming for sushi specifically, just order up the “chef’s specialty roll” and let their excellent sushi chefs serve you whatever’s freshest that evening.
Sweet lovers need look no further than Kavanaugh as well. There’s several options here, too:
9. Le Pops offers a wide assortment of hand-crafted ice pops, created with natural, locally sourced fruits and other fine ingredients. They’ve brought out their spectacular shaved ice again for the summer, too…so there’s no better time to visit these guys than right now.
10. Rosalia’s Bakery provides one-of-a-kind South American baked goods to Little Rock diners. Their display cases are filled with cakes, cookies, pies, tarts, and sweet rolls. But it’s their wonderful sonhos that get me back in the door. These Brazilian-style doughnuts are deep fried and filled with either dulce de leche or sweet cream.
11. Of course, Cupcakes on Kavanaugh has been a sweet-treat standby for years. They were among the first to up the ante on cupcakes when the trend began sweeping the nation years ago…and they’re still going strong today. They’ve cranked out a whole host of interesting and intriguing flavors over the years…but it’s their classic red velvet that continues to win me over every time I visit.
Need more reasons to love Kavanaugh? Here you go…
12. Where would Little Rock be without the masters of meat at Hillcrest Artisan Meats? There’s no finer purveyor of pork in town. Need some sensational sausages? A prime cut of beef? Look no further. And of course, their sandwiches and soups have made them one of the city’s most popular lunch counters. Take my advice. If the beef cheeks sandwich is ever on the menu…just be sure to order it. You will not regret.
13. Maybe you consider the full-service restaurant, Boulevard Bistro & Bar, a new arrival to Kavanaugh. That’s technically true, but Boulevard Bakery, of course, has been hammering out some of the cities finest breads, sandwiches, salads, and soups for years now. But with their new bistro and bar, they’ve taken their game to a whole other level. The restaurant’s menu is studded with fantastic food…but that “Baked Pimento Cheese” appetizer…it’s definitely not to be overlooked.
14. What’s not to love about Mylo Coffee Co.? A beautiful, relaxing interior, perfect for wasting away the morning with a cup of coffee and a pastry or two. Owner Stephanos Mylonas is without a doubt among the best bakers in town, and nearly everything he puts on the menu is exceptional. It may be an underdog here…but I’m hopelessly addicted to the “craquelin,” a soft, sweetened yeast roll usually filled with a crunchy, orange-flavored sugar center. It’s lovely and you should eat it.
15. The recently established second home of Tomas Bohm, the newish Pantry Crest, has become every bit as successful at the original location. The menu hasn’t changed much, but the remodeled space makes the restaurant more approachable and comfortable than ever. It’s hard to order wrong here…but I’ve never been disappointed by anything on their charcuterie plate.
16. Always a popular lunchtime destination, Cafe Bossa Nova offers a unique option for Little Rock diners. Their take on classic Brazilian dishes offers something you won’t find anywhere else in town. You need to sample their “Salpicao” at some point…shredded chicken, apples, carrots, sweet peas, and herbs all blended with mayo and served over rice. It’s a remarkable dish, trust me.
17. There’s a lot to love about Cheers in the Heights, but there’s not many places that serve finer sandwiches than these folks. Check out their “Albuquerque Turkey” with sliced turkey breast, cheese, and guacamole, or their sensational BLT with mounds of hot, crispy bacon, lettuce, and tomato on a soft brioche bun.
18. Certainly one of the more under-rated options in Little Rock, Scallions has built a loyal following over the years by dishing out consistently good food in a warm, welcoming atmosphere. And now that they’re serving up breakfast, you might want to work them into your morning routine…especially if this routine involves the “French Connection”, a croissant sandwich with bacon, egg, and Swiss.
19. It’s a small place, but Leo’s Greek Castle is big on flavor. In a small city that seems to have a proportionally large number of Greek and Mediterranean options, Leo’s manages to keep people satisfied and coming back for more. Their gyros are good, but their burger may just be the most under-rated item on the menu.
20. And when you’re looking for an evening of fine dining, Acadia has got you covered. Big, hearty dishes such as their roasted, bone-in, “double thick” Frenched pork chop should be enough to satisfy even the biggest of appetites, but a selection of excellent entree salads are available if you’re looking for something a bit lighter. But don’t miss out on their smoked gouda mac and cheese with white truffle oil. You won’t find a finer mac in town.