If you are a regular reader here, chances are you have gotten out to try most of the food highlights that Little Rock has to offer. If not, we have plenty of restaurant guides out there to get you started.
When you eat out regularly though, where do you go for something special? It is a problem we are often faced with ourselves. So we decided to round up 20 of our favorite outings.
Some of these are way off the radar, some only come around once a year, and a few even less than that. If you have a chance to make any of these, drop what you are doing and give it a go. It will be an experience you won’t soon forget.
Wine Cellar Dinner at Capital Hotel – The wine cellar at the Capital is one of the most unique dinner settings in all of Little Rock. You are surrounded by some of the oldest and most exclusive wine in the city, located in the basement of the most iconic hotel around. The dinners popup occasionally and sell out fast, with a wide variety of different themes. The last I went to was a bourbon dinner for example. Still keep an eye out and if you catch one of these jump on it quickly.
Khantoke Dinners at kBird – I’ve traveled the country eating Thai food, and I’ve rarely come across a place that matches the uniqueness and authenticity of kBird. To kick that up a notch their occasional family style Khantoke dinners. These are some of the best food kBird has to offer, things you will not find on their menu and take much more time and care to prepare than is logical for a one off dish. The next few are Sept 23, Oct 21, Nov 4, and Nov 18th if they are not sold out already. Here are the details.
Pantry Anniversary – Every year around the first of April Pantry owner Tomas Bohm serves up his now famous paella at the west location to celebrate the Pantry’s anniversary. It is the only time each year that this is available, and it is first come first serve. It absolutely will run out at some point during the day. For one of the best all around spots in town it is an exclusive dish that you have to try.
No Kid Hungry Dinner – Every year chef Matt Bell of South on Main brings together some of the top chefs from around the region to cook a multi-course meal to benefit No Kid Hungry/Arkansas Hunger Relief alliance. Besides being a great cause, it is easily the food highlight of the year. Consistently several of our best dishes of the year come from this meal. It sells out quick too, so fast they barely promote the dinner anymore, but here is a link to the tickets to this year’s dinner on October 16. It is a little on the expensive side, but worth absolutely every dime (that all goes to one of the most worthy causes around).
Lassis Inn – A little less on the exclusive side, but far off the radar is Lassis Inn. Don’t be fooled, it is not a hotel. But it is some of the best fried catfish around in a great dive setting. It is not in well traveled area, you sort of have to know where it is to get there, but it is one of Little Rock’s oldest spots and an absolute gem.
Ramen at Heart Hospital – This is becoming less of a secret, but still a bucket list item for sure. The ramen bowls at the Arkansas Heart Hospital are not only the best ramen in the state (maybe even the surrounding region), but also a hell of a deal at $5.50 a bowl. It only runs on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and they change up the protein each day. It ranges from pork belly to seared Ahi tuna and everything in between. Each is wonderful, and not what you would expect coming out of a hospital cafe.
Greek Food Festival – As far as food festivals go, the Greek Food Fest (at least so far) is king. It happens once a year in early May for 3 days. The untold story is how many of the recipes used are passed down several generations from original Greek families who attend the local Greek Orthodox Church. Some of the newer items are fine, but stick with the traditional food items if you can.
Tasting Menu at Table 28 – The name of Table 28 comes from the 28th table that is reserved for chef’s tasting. It is not so much an actual table, more of a concept at this point. Still Chef Scott Rains is one of the most adventurous chefs around and will push your dinner as far as you are willing to go. I like to just throw the whole ball in his court sometimes and ask for a complete surprise. It never fails to impress. Be sure to give him a few weeks heads up if you want to do this so he can source ingredients.
Rock Town Distillery Tour – Rock Town is currently (that will change soon) the only full distillery in Arkansas. They had a few stumbles out the gate many years ago, but they have quietly risen to produce some outstanding products that are world renown. Beer tours at this point are a dime a dozen with so many breweries, but there is only one distillery tour, made even more awesome by their aging barrels that you sometimes get an early sample of. It is a fantastic experience, one you have to go out of state to replicate. Plus you get to hang with our pal Kelly Gee on the tour.
Crawfish Boil at Faded Rose – There are several crawfish boils now around the city, but Faded Rose still reigns supreme. After 35 years they have had more than enough time to nail the recipe on the crawfish, and get fresh mudbugs in for the boil the same day. These start usually in late February and go until late May on Wednesdays only. They often run out of crawfish, so get there as early as possible.
Tiki Night at Trios – This is one of those less than once in a blue moon events. Tiki night at Trio’s is one of the coolest events around, and the only time you can get tiki drinks and traditional tiki food. They are currently way overdue for a Tiki night, and I believe there should be another one coming soon. Check their Facebook page for the event, or just pester them until it happens again. Either way make it out when they finally do it.
K Hall Seafood Boil – This Saturday only special at K Hall and Son’s Produce is a must try if you have not had a chance. Relatively inexpensive, the weekly seafood boil brings a long line of people seeking shrimp, crab legs, turkey necks, crawfish when in season, and whatever else they decide to throw in that day. It is worth the journey for a very unique experience and some outstanding food.
Authentic Chinese Menu at AW Lin’s – I’ll never quite understand why AW Lin’s does not go all in on their secret Authentic Chinese menu. It is the best eats in the WLR space and very easily overlooked unless you know what you are going for. On it you will find some of the best Chinese flavors around, with ingredients brought in from all over to keep it as authentic as possible.
Steak at Arthur’s – We get asked for steak recommendations all the time, and to be honest the difference between a decent steak and a good steak (other than price) is not that different, if you just want a steak, any number of places will do, they are all good. If you want something that is going to rock your steak loving world, then there are the premium steaks at Arthurs Prime Steakhouse. Premium cuts of meat like Wagyu and certified authentic Japanese Kobe beef are going to set you back more than a few pennies, but it is one of those experiences that once you try, every other but of beef is just a decent steak.
Around the World Dinner at Forty Two – Another common question I get is “how do you get into Around the World Dinners at Forty Two“? The answer is to beg, borrow and steal a seat reservation. Last check the request list for reservations was around 3 years deep and that is only because they stopped guessing how long it would take for a seat to come up. The monthly dinners may be the most exclusive in the city, but they are also some of the best. The culinary team for the Clinton Center focuses their food and drink menu each month on a different region of the world, bringing in experts when needed, to create a multi-course dinner reflecting that region’s cuisine.
Pho at Mike’s Cafe – Another on the underrated side, but the pho at Mike’s Cafe on Asher is the best around. It all starts with an outstanding broth and goes from there. It is hard to get a better bowl of pho in the city. The rest of the menu is great as well, but it is hard to get past this.
Ribs at HB’s – There is an ongoing argument about Little Rock not having good BBQ. Meanwhile HB’s BBQ has been turning out great BBQ for years, the highlight of which is their ribs, served only on Tuesdays. Yes, some people may take issues with the small seating, lack of accepting credit cards, and a waitress somehow miraculously remember what everyone wants to eat. But if you can come in, shut up and eat you will find some great bbq that leaves nothing to complain about.
Tequila School at Local Lime – Back to the “ultra-rare and we have no idea when we will see it again” dining experiences. The Tequila School at Local Lime is quite simply our favorite pairing dinner around. It has taken place twice so far, so we bet there will be a third. For these they cook up some amazing food and bring in David Suro Piñera, who is the owner of an amazing tequila brand called Simbre Azul. The last was a little over a year ago, so we are hoping for another soon. Again, just pester the hell out of them until it happens again.
Tiki Happy Hour at South on Main – If you are a Tiki cocktail lover like me, this one comes about more regularly than Trio’s Tiki night. The only difference is that you do not get tiki food to go along with it. Still each Tuesday starting at 4 the bar staff at South on Main whips up a tiki drink of the week that tends to change each week. These are usually very cool and creative drinks that are way too much work to leave on the menu full time.
Cooking Classes at Eggshells – Finally, and this is a bit of a toss up, but some of our favorite food experiences come from Cooking Classes at Eggshells. Mostly because you get a chance to really know the chef in ways you never will by just going to the restaurant. My pick here is make a list of a few chefs whose food you love, and watch for them on the Eggshells calendar. If they do not appear feel free to reach out and encourage them to do a cooking class. You learn so much about their personalities and cooking styles through these events.