Eating Out in Little Rock: Top 10 Must-Try Restaurants

Little Rock skyline
Little Rock skyline | © Bruce W. Stracener/WikiCommons
Photo of Patrick Norrie
9 February 2017

Little Rock is an incredibly surprising culinary destination: if you scratch under the surface, you?ll find out it?s home to numerous exciting, award-winning restaurants that are bringing a modern approach to cooking. We?ve updated our article on the city?s dining scene to bring you the 10 best restaurants and eateries in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The Root Café

Restaurant, Bistro, Cafe, American, Fast Food, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
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The motto of The Root café is ?Building Community through Local Food’, making it a socially conscious eatery that seeks to educate and enhance the local community in Little Rock. The Root hosts classes such as the Food Preservation Workshop in seeking to develop a better food education, and provides a venue for exhibitions, talks and live music. The Root’s ethos is noteworthy, yet it is its delightful cooking that pulls in the crowd. Using locally sourced ingredients, The Root offers superb burgers, bratwursts, sandwiches and award-winning vegetarian dishes. This independently owned local business is a refreshing addition to Little Rock’s culinary scene ? showing everyone that food can still be delicious even when it is cooked and sourced in a more sustainable way.

Ya Yas Euro Bistro

Bistro, Restaurant, European, Greek, Italian, French, $$$
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Ya Ya’s Euro Bistro outdoor seating area | Courtesy Ya Ya’s Euro Bistro
Ya Yas refers to grandmas, a name that suggests traditional, home-style dining and doesn’t disappoint with its dedication to old-school ingredients and tried-and-tested recipes. Executive Chef Elliot Carter Jones and his team create nostalgic dishes with a diverse range of influences, from Greek to Italian and French. And yet, despite the hearty dishes on offer, perhaps the most important aspect of dining at Ya Yas is the intimate, laid-back atmosphere perfect for joyful and uncomplicated dining.

Big Orange

Restaurant, American, $$$
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© Dan Germain/Flickr.
Although they’re not orange just big the burgers do come in a huge variety of flavours and combinations at Big Orange, stacked with delectable accompaniments and ingredients, and served with the utmost attention to detail. With its ethos of ethical sourcing and sustainable development, the venue?s two branches are among the local favourites. Indeed, the ordering process here is also to the point: guests choose a type of burger, then pick a side and style of fries. The options are both eclectic and classic, with some of the most impressive burgers being the white truffle pecorino burger, or the curried falafel and lentil burger sandwich, truffle-garlic herb fries or sweet potato fries served with mango-curry ketchup.

Brave New Restaurant

Restaurant, American, $$$
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Brave New Restaurant
Brave New Restaurant | © Ed Schipul/Flickr.
Brave New Restaurant enjoys the perfect location on a river-facing dock, making it a great spot to explore Little Rock?s long history as a seafaring city. The skyline can be viewed from behind the plate of smoked salmon salad, the veal with wild mushrooms or mixed grill. The menu is updated regularly to keep Brave New Restaurant fresh and up-to-date. Its reputation as the best fine dining establishment in Little Rock is further enhanced by its performance in the recent Arkansas Times Readers? Choice Awards 2014: Brave New Restaurant was voted Best Overall Restaurant in Little Rock as well as being acknowledged for having the best chef in town, Peter Brave.

Flying Fish

Restaurant, Cajun, $$$
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Flying Fish interior | Courtesy the restaurant
Flying Fish is s fun and relaxed place to dine by the Arkansas River. This is not a run-of-the-mill fish and chips stop, but rather a place that embraces everything to do with seafood culture. The menu showcases dishes such as fried oysters, jambalaya, crab legs, frog legs, grilled red snapper fillets sourced from South and Central America, fish tacos and the famous catfish, which is farmed in Arkansas and other regions in the USA. Flying Fish is a convivial spot that offers very reasonable prices for their freshly caught fish. Guests can also buy a shirt to remember the pleasure of visiting this award-winning seafood establishment in Little Rock.

Local Lime

Restaurant, Bar, Mexican, American, Vegetarian, Vegan, Spanish, $$$
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Since opening in 2012, Local Lime has firmly cemented its reputation as a trendy Mexican eatery. It is an exciting place to eat, as the chefs are constantly looking for different ways to innovate within Mexican cuisine; for example, they recently announced a new creation: pork chop and grilled peach tacos served with tomatillo sauce, fresh cheese and lime. Other highlights are the fajitas with guacamole and the sizzling hot Pescado Veracruz served on an iron skillet with corn tortillas. The bar at Local Lime also impresses, offering a craft beer of the month, award-winning house margaritas and most importantly, the famous Mexican spirits, tequila and mezcal.

South on Main

Restaurant, American, Vegan, $$$
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South on Main interior
South on Main interior | © Arshia Khan/Courtesy South On Main
More than just an original restaurant and dining space, South on Main is also a culinary experience headed by innovative chef Matthew Bell, whose cooking is the perfect accompaniment to the recitals, concerts and events that take place at the restaurant. With an unpretentious, home-cooked selection of dishes, South on Main retains its laid-back cool while serving up fantastic, rustic food: a highlight of the dinner menu is the grilled rib-eye with marinated zucchini and potato pave. Fresh ingredients, expert cooking and cultural content guarantee a fabulous experience at this recently opened Little Rock institution.

Sushi Cafe

Cafe, Restaurant, Japanese, Sushi, Asian, $$$
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Coffee | ©Julius Schorzman/WikiCommons
Sushi Cafe managed to win Arkansas Times? Best Sushi award for five successive years from 2008 to 2012. So it is unsurprising that the Arkansas Times’ readers picked Sushi Cafe as the best Japanese restaurant in Little Rock again this year, cementing its unrivalled reputation within the area. Sushi Cafe’s pedigree stems from its imaginative concoction of sushi dishes. For example, a particular attraction is their speciality rolls such as the valentine’s roll that consists of coconut-encrusted shrimp with mango, cream cheese and strawberry purée. As such, the venue plays an important role in redefining sushi cooking. It is this kind of creative attitude that has prompted this sushi joint to start creating outrageously tasty burgers ? Angus or American wagyu steaks.

Table 28

Diner, Restaurant, American, Fusion
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Lamb Sirloin | Courtesy Table 28
Located in the The Burgundy Hotel, this stylish venue is presided over by Head Chef Scott Rains, who accompanied the launch of the space on 28 August 2013. To celebrate its first anniversary, Table 28 celebrated by inviting customers to enjoy happy hour all day. Its New American menu is the perfect blend of creativity and simplicity, and brings modern favourites to the fore, from the biscuits and gravy to fusion-style surprises such as squid strips served in a basket. The eponymous Table 28 is reserved for special occasions, and presents a fantastic six-course tasting menu. With prices on the menu set according to an ethically calculated percentage of profit margins for producers and farmers, Table 28 also makes public donations to a local children?s hospital.

ZAZA Fine Salad & Wood Oven Co.

ZAZA prides itself on making the most authentic pizzas in town. The five constituents of the ZAZA’S pizza sauce are: imported San Marzano tomatoes grown in volcanic soil in Italy, extra virgin olive oil, basil, freshly-cracked pepper and Kosher salt. Then the trademark crispy crust of the pizzas is derived from using Italian flour Tipo 00, which is cooked in a hand-crafted wooden oven. It is this level of detail that has led to people praising ZAZA for baking what are arguably the best pizzas in town. Furthermore, the restaurant provides lustrous salads and luscious, natural gelatos ? made fresh each morning with milk, berries, nuts, fruits, water and all-natural cane syrup.

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