The Riverdale area still boasts some of the hottest real estate in the city. Part of that comes from the picturesque views of the Arkansas river rolling through the center of town, but a key draw to the area remains the high-quality dining options. There’s a lot of folks living in Riverdale that almost never venture outside their hood for grub, claiming that they’ve got everything they need right in their own backyard. Here’s 8 good reasons the joints lining Rebsamen and Old Cantrell are still worth looking into today:
Maddie’s Place – Some say that Chef Brian Deloney and crew can do no wrong. Based on the visits I’ve made to Maddie’s Place, I would not argue with that claim. I haven’t found a bad bite on the menu. Maddie’s is still tops in this town for Cajun and Creole. Don’t pass on the fantastic ribeye and blue cheese meat pies from the appetizer section. At lunchtime, you’ll find one of the best values in town with their po boy plates, and at dinner you certainly can’t go wrong with their shrimp and smoked cheddar grits with andouille sausage reduction, the buttermilk fried chicken breast with mac and cheese and slow cooked collards, or the crispy catfish with black eyed peas. And don’t even get me started on dessert…
Pizza Cafe – Everyone in Riverdale has a soft spot for Pizza Cafe. Sure, there’s lots of great pizza options around Little Rock, but locals to the area are unwaveringly loyal to this family-friendly establishment doing pizza a little differently than the rest. They do a crispier crust than most. And when it comes to toppings, they’ve developed some unorthodox combinations that have remained favorites for years. Look into the “Mexican” with jack cheese, beef, onion, bell pepper, olives, and tomato, or the “Artichoke Chicken” with chicken, artichoke, feta, garlic, and onion. Their “Muffuletta” pizza with salami, ham, provolone, and olive salad, is another unconventional pie that you won’t find anyone else in town attempting.
Faded Rose – Interestingly, another of the greatest names in Cajun/Creole cuisine sits just next door to Maddie’s. The David family have built their reputation on excellent eats and fantastic service. They’re dishing out all the classics: red beans and rice, shrimp gumbo, fried oysters, crawfish étouffée, and shrimp and grits. But look a bit deeper into the menu and you’ll find some items many regulars swear are the best in the city…items like Rose’s prime rib, Rose’s Creole soaked salad, their famous fried potato wedges, or a perfectly cooked ribeye. The Faded Rose has been around since 1982, but still remains one of the most beloved restaurants in town…it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
Brave New – Peter Brave is a veteran chef that continues to prove his worth day after day. Most would agree that Brave New’s exterior facade is a bit off-putting at first, as it’s lost inside some corporate office suites. But inside (or outside, really) diners can enjoy one of the best views of the river and finest patio dining in town. Brave is known for his excellent command of fish, and every seafood-savvy diner should sample his offerings at some point. But regulars here have a whole list of things they’d recommend…everything from their popular “Five Onion” soup to the playful “Duck With Duck”, pan seared duck breast with grilled duck sausage.
The Fold – This relative newcomer to the area has quickly built a loyal following with its creative takes on classic Mexican dishes, an evolving and progressive drink menu, and a vibrant atmosphere boasting one of the best patios in town. Tacos and burritos are staple items here…you’re not going to want to miss the ground bison, for sure. But you’ll also want to look into their loaded tamale plate, their gooey, cheesy enchiladas, and their Mexican street corn. But whatever you do, you must end the meal with their extraordinary housemade churros with caramel dipping sauce. Muy bueno, I promise.
Red Door & Loca Luna – These sister restaurants, owned and operated by Mark Abernathy, continue to pull in a steady stream of regulars who know their food well and just can’t get enough. Both restaurants boast menus that a big and varied — you’ll find everything from lasagna to chicken fried prime rib at Red Door, for example. But one item you’ll find at both establishments, that most patrons can really sink their teeth into, is their pork osso bucco. It’s certainly worth getting your hands on at some point. And for breakfast or brunch, Red Door and Loca Luna are certainly forces to be reckoned with.
Buffalo Grill – There’s certainly nothing fancy about what’s going on at Buffalo Grill. Their menu consists mainly of American favorites aimed to please the everyday diner looking for familiar fare and family-friendly dining. And that’s exactly what you get here. Nachos, quesadillas, onion rings, sandwiches, and hot dogs all find their way onto tables at Buffalo Grill. But many still swear by their classic, no-frills burgers…which are certainly noteworthy in their own right.