These days, Argenta is the place to be. Often acting as a hub for beer festivals, Arkansas Traveler’s games, and Friday night art walks, it’s also got a slew of well established eateries under its belt. Recently we took a look at the new kid on the block: Skinny J’s. The Arkansas chain has been around since 2009, and can now add downtown North Little Rock to its list of locations.
Initially founded in Cash, Ark., Chef James Best aspired to open the restaurant after attending culinary school. A burger and steak joint equipped with live music, the popularity of the eatery exploded, and Best moved to nearby Jonesboro and Paragould, and now, Argenta.
The eatery occupies the old Cornerstone Pub location on 314 Main Street. Upon entering, patrons are met with a country-chic feel, from the tree trunk rings adorning the walls to the touches of red paired with rustic chandeliers to the stuff opossum that greets anyone who happens to look up while walking through the door.
Self-described as “not your average steak & burger joint,” the menu is incredibly varied. Beyond burgers and steaks, the list is headspinningly long, including: pasta, seafood, sandwiches, wraps, salads, and even oysters – which you can have every which way from raw on the half shell to breaded and fried with accompanying buffalo sauce.
On our jaunt in, we tried the Crawfish Dip, which we were told was a crowd favorite. The creamy Cajun sauce made with crawfish tails was pretty tasty, plus it came with wonton chips.
Of their burger offerings they had some interesting flavor combinations, including the Nora J, which includes pineapple salsa, avocado, jalapenos, pepperjack and chipotle ranch. The burger was certainly interesting, a bit sweet and a lot spicy. The big winner here was the extremely thick and wide cut curly fries.
We also gave the Sirloin a try topped with “cajun butter”. The steak itself was a very solid steak, but the sauce on top was perhaps the best part. They have a number of butter/sauce options to try.
The only real obstacle besides narrowing down the menu, was the drink list. The martinis were pretty self-explanatory, but some drinks, although creatively named, left us confused and ultimately sipping water. For instance, The Dammit Sharee was a little hard to maneuver, with only this description: “Skinny J’s Created and Approved”. This is a small problem that could easily be fixed.
If you’re a music lover, keep your ears peeled on the weekends. Like the original location, Argenta’s Skinny J’s will boast of live performances on Saturdays.
The drink menu aside, Skinny J’s is in the perfect location for Verizon arena goers to catch a bite before a show, or for those finishing the art walk to stop by. The atmosphere is casual and family oriented, and feels pretty flexible. It will please the casual diner and is a solid #2 spot in Argenta behind Ristorante Capeo for dinner.
Skinny J’s is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight.