Nominations are now open for the third 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. Six restaurants are in the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame thus far: Jones BBQ in Mariana, Rhoda’s Famous Hot Tamales in Lake Village, McClard’s in Hot Springs, The Venesian Inn in Tontitown, and Lassis Inn and Franke’s Cafeteria in Little Rock. After nominations are in, a panel of Arkansas historians and food writers select the finalists. I can think of many restaurants open at least 25 years that deserve the honor (The Faded Rose, Trio’s, Star of India, etc.), but it doesn’t matter if you don’t nominate them! To nominate your favorite restaurant, head to the Department of Arkansas Heritage’s website and fill out the form. Nominations will be accepted during the month of October. The winners will be announced in February.
For the second time in two years, La Hacienda in Riverdale will be closing temporarily. The restaurant will close Sunday and remain closed for up to a week. The Alvarez family, which owns La Hacienda, isn’t saying anything specific about the reason for the closing, only that there are some kinks that need to be ironed out. La Hacienda closed in 2016 for nearly a year for a full-scale remodel that saw the restaurant stripped down to its studs and rebuilt. The update has been a welcome one, as the restaurant is brighter and has more room for guests. We will let you know next week when La Hacienda reopens.
Sadly, we have a more permanent closing to report, as we’re being told that West End Smokehouse and Tavern in West Little Rock is shutting down. West End has been open for decades on Shackleford Road. After Arkansas effectively banned smoking at most restaurants in the state in 2006, West End remained one of the few places that let you light up indoors. At its peak, West End was one of the top sports bar options in the city. We haven’t been told what led to the closure, only that it will happen this week.
Ever want to learn how to make chocolate? Cocoa Belle Chocolates in Bryant wants to teach you and your family this weekend how it’s done. From 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday, Cocoa Belle will teach you how to make your favorite kind of chocolate bar, then show you how to decorate and top it. You will also get to take home three chocolate bars to enjoy. If this sounds like your kind of weekend, you will need to get your ticket in advance. Tickets are $35 each. Cocoa Belle is encouraging families to bring their children to this fun workshop.
Restaurant closings tend to dominate the headlines, but they don’t mean that Arkansas’ food scene is in trouble. We took a look at how a new wave of restaurant openings are proving there’s still plenty of good eating to explore in our city.
In just over a year, Petit and Keet has developed into one of the best food destinations Little Rock has to offer. We stopped by for a look at some of the restaurant’s new dishes and found a menu with confidence and capability beyond its age.