Everything You Need To Know About Little Rock’s Food Future In 2016

So yeah…2015 was a pretty decent year for Little Rock food. But that’s old news now…it’s time to look forward, friends, and embrace the new year. I know you’re probably all wondering what exactly 2016 has in store for our food scene. It’s probably keeping you up at night. Fear not…we’ve got everything you need to know about food in 2016 right here. Keep your eyes peeled, folks…2016 is going to require a lot of eating from you.

First off, our food truck scene looks like it will be putting on a pretty stellar performance. With a number of new trucks arriving and old trucks going the way of the brick-and-mortar, expect some surprises from this bunch…

We told you about the WonderBus a while back. It’s a food truck hoping to bring authentic German flavors to our scene. Think bratwurst, goulash, and schnitzel. They’re still in the process of finishing up their truck…so look for them sometime in the first quarter of 2016. Who else might be making a move this year? There’s rumors that Katmandu Momo, the best Nepalese dumpling truck in the whole city, is looking to snag a permanent brick and mortar location. Hot Rod Wieners is also looking to pick up a permanent shop at some point, too…which makes this wiener-loving man very happy.

BASH will be moving on up to Bowman Rd. soon
BASH will be moving on up to Bowman Rd. soon

Of course, BASH Burger Co. has already pinned down their new restaurant location over on Bowman in West Little Rock. It’ll replace that “other” Bruno’s place that shut down a while back. BASH does some intriguing things with burgers, unlike anything else in the area…so I’m pulling for these guys.

And what about Jeremy Rhodes and his very successful Geek Eats operation? Sure, he’s doing well at the markets and such, but he’s been mentioning opening a deli in North Little Rock for some time now. I welcome this idea…we’ll see if it happens this year. Then there’s the incredibly sweet Sharon Woodson over at Honey Pies. I’m totally heart-ing her stuff lately (especially that chocolate fudge brownie pie). She’s currently operating a delivery service, but she’s also mentioned a permanent location to sell her wares. This is a good thing…I hope it happens. And Rick’s Beignets is promising to take his truck on the road and spend some time in Little Rock. This will save me a drive to Sherwood and make his delicious fried dough even more accessible. That’s a good thing, too.

And there’s more…

Personally, I’m sorta stoked about the arrival of La Madeleine in West Little Rock near the corner of Markham and Chenal. It’s parked right next to that ever-so-popular Chick-fil-A in WLR. I’ve driven by the building several times and it’s honestly looking pretty gorgeous. It’s large, two stories…there’s lots of reasons to be excited for this one. Several of them involve dessert.

kBird is promising more dinner hours and a few special-event dining opportunities. This is a beautiful thing, and any of you who’ve complained that you just “can’t get there for lunch” will now have no excuse.

Rocky's Pub's cheesesteak...come back, please
Rocky’s Pub’s cheesesteak…come back, please

Speaking of dinner? Will this be the year we finally see dinner service settle permanently at The Root? Not going to lie…it’s been in my prayers for three years. I think it could happen. If the expansion and remodeling takes place within a reasonable time frame, we could be looking at a very different Root by the end of 2016. Keep a look out.

I’m not entirely sure what happened, but it seems the once-promised downtown location of The Shack has gone dark. Will it ever see the light of day? Will barbecue junkies ever get that sweet taste of this “local legend of Little Rock barbecue.” I mean…I hope so. I’m cautiously optimistic.

There’s also been rumors that the now defunct famed Philly-themed North Little Rock staple, Rocky’s Pub may be making a comeback. This means we may once again see a decent cheesesteak option in this town. In fact, they did a darn good cheesesteak. Last I spoke with them, they were looking for a new location…likely in NLR. Stay tuned there.

Could this bird help land Bell the Beard?
Could this dirty bird help land Bell the Beard?

Also in Dogtown news, be on the lookout for a new jazz and blues club, 4 Quarter, in the Argenta District. This one is brought to us by the folks over at Midtown Billiards (Conan Robinson and Maggie Hinson). It will serve as a bar, restaurant (serving barbecue and other southern staples), and music venue. They were hoping to have the place ready to go last fall…clearly that was not in the cards. I imagine we’ll see it sometime in the next few months.

Now, let’s journey even deeper into the land of conjecture…

Will this be the year that Matt Bell and his crew at South on Main pick up the James Beard Award nomination? My gut says ‘yes’. These guys made a favorable impression at the legendary Beard House last year in New York City…so clearly, Bell and crew are on their radar. Could he bring home the bacon? Only time will tell.

Big Orange's Thai Chopped Salad...a harbinger of things to come?
Big Orange’s Thai Chopped Salad…a harbinger of things to come?

Of course, no year in Little Rock food news would be complete without a healthy dose of excitement and teasing from Yellow Rocket Concepts. (In case you’ve been living under a rock, Yellow Rocket is the group behind Big Orange, ZAZA, Lost Forty, Local Lime, and Heights Taco & Tamale Co.) It’s been a while now since we’ve had some fresh Yellow Rock gossip…so I’m thinking it’s about time we did. With a guy like Scott McGehee, a man who always seems to have good ideas popping up in his head…I expect he’s already got plans for what his next restaurant concept will be. My gut says barbecue…an idea which we should all hope and pray for. But it’s equally likely they may go with an Asian-themed restaurant. We’ve seen how skilled McGehee is at creating Asian-inspired flavors with some of his specials at Big Orange, and I could see something incorporating the flavors of Thailand, Korea, Japan, China, and Vietnam all under one roof working very well for these guys. Or I could be totally off base.

It’s going to be a good year. I’m looking forward to it. And we here at Rock City Eats pledge to do our best to keep you plugged in to all the exciting developments in this fine city. Stay with us, folks…it’s going to be a fun ride.


Everything You Need To Know About Little Rock’s Food Future In 2016