Rumbles: Food Hall of Fame Nominations Ending, Ohia Poke Closes

Tomorrow is the last day to submit your nominations for the fourth class of the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame, presented by the Department of Arkansas Heritage. Every year, the hall of fame inducts three local restaurants that have been continuously open for at least 25 years. Nine restaurants are in the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame thus far, with Craig Brothers Café in Devall’s Bluff, Keeney’s Food Market in Malvern, and Burge’s Hickory Smoked Turkeys and Hams in Lewisville joining the Hall last year. After nominations are in, a panel of Arkansas historians and food writers select the finalists. To nominate your favorite restaurant, head to the Department of Arkansas Heritage’s website and fill out the form. The winners will be announced in February.

It looks like only one of the two poke restaurant chains that quickly set up in Little Rock is going to survive. All three Ohia Poke locations are closed with nobody answering calls or returning messages from any of the restaurants. Ohia Poke was owned by Sonny Nguyen and Au Tran, two friends who set out to create a healthier lifestyle restaurant chain. It first opened at the beginning of 2018 on 6th Street, in the former Lulav spot. It expanded to the Promenade at Chenal and to Hillcrest before closing its doors for good. Ohia Poke’s nearest competitor, Poke Hula, is still going strong with four locations, including one in North Little Rock and one in Conway. Ohia Poke and Poke Hula both started within two weeks of each other in early 2018.

Kemuri Restaurant in Hillcrest is getting into the food truck business. The new vehicle is called The Lab Food Truck and will be used to test out a wide variety of concepts outside of the traditional Kemuri menu. The menu is expected to change frequently with different sets, and the truck will also serve as the catering kitchen for the restaurant group. Chef Gilbert Alaquinez will manage the truck, so expect good and unique things when you see it set.

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The demand for vegan meals is apparently getting stronger in Little Rock. Table 28, which had run an occasional vegan event on a recurring basis, is in the middle of a three-day Vegan Nights pop-up of sorts. If you have eaten at Table 28, you know that the quality is always there regardless of the menu, and this vegan menu looks to be no exception. The roasted sweet potato po’boy with root vegetable fries and the cornflake-crusted butternut squash with biryani made from Ralston Farms rice look like the big winners, but honestly the whole menu looks fantastic. You can make reservations for Vegan Nights by visiting the restaurant’s website or by calling 501-224-2828. Walk-ins are accepted, but given how popular Table 28 can get, you should definitely consider making a reservation if you want to stop in.

Halloween is not a holiday that usually brings restaurant closings, but there are a few this week so that staff can enjoy the day with their kids. Sister restaurants Graffiti’s and La Terraza are both taking Thursday night off, as is The Pizzeria. The Pizzeria will have a special Halloween-themed tiki cocktail menu running tonight to get your treats in.

Speaking of Halloween, there are a few special events on places that will be opened for Halloween and Day of the Dead. Atlas Bar has both a Halloween costume party (adults only) and a Day of the Dead event the following day (Nov 1), At the Corner is doing a rare nighttime opening on Halloween for a Night Brunch, and Railyard/Count Porkula is doing a Nightmare on 6th Street event on Friday. Costumes welcome at all events.

One of the best new restaurants of 2018 has rebranded. We talked with owners Jack and Corri Sundell about the new Mockingbird Bar and Tacos and checked out some of the menu changes that launched last week.

A countryside event venue only minutes from downtown Little Rock is impressing attendees with its setting and charm. We stopped by Rusty Tractor Vineyards and found a beautiful space with plenty to offer.

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Rumbles: Food Hall of Fame Nominations Ending, Ohia Poke Closes