Little Rock borrows its name from a small rock on the river, used as a landmark for boats. The town, named after this promontory, is also slowly becoming a landmark for food as highly lauded chefs are migrating to Arkansas. A bastion of Southern cuisine where international influences still manage to colour authentic American eats, these are 10 of the best restaurants in Little Rock.
Chef Joël Antunes returns to the United States after a long-running career, which has taken him to Bangkok, London and now Little Rock, Arkansas. The French-born and raised chef, who studied under the legendary Paul Bocuse, brings sophistication, experience and creativity to Ashley’s at the Capital, creating a menu which reconnects with the South’s true culinary traditions while giving them a modern twist. One of the things that inspired Antunes to settle in Little Rock was the region’s availability of fresh, local produce, which ensures that both the dishes and the ingredients that compose them are of the highest possible quality. The restaurant is an unmissable, and surprising, culinary treat, located just around the corner from the Historic Arkansas Museum.
Ashley’s at the Capital, 111 West Markham, Little Rock, AR, USA, +1 501 370 7011
Art can come in many forms, ranging from the visual and sensory to the personal. Best Impressions, one of the most renowned casual restaurants in Little Rock, provides a symbiosis of a good number of these different kinds of art. The culinary creativity in its American fusion menu is a delight for the palate. The artistic vision given by the artwork on display just on the other side of the partition, at the Arkansas Arts Center, coincides perfectly with the food and the visual panorama offered by its floor-to-ceiling windows looking onto green open space finish off the tableau with panache. The menu revolves heavily around salads, pastas and classic mains (chicken, burgers, steaks) with a brunch option as well, and some rather seductive desserts, red velvet cake is not always on the menu in sit-down restaurants, but it is at Best Impressions.
Best Impressions, 501 East 9th Street, Little Rock, AR, USA, +1 501 907 5946
A prime-cut steak cooked to perfection should be enough to elevate Doe’s Eat Place to a position of renown in Little Rock. However, in case there’s any doubt as to the quality of the meat, there is also a very important claim to notoriety. Doe’s was former President Bill Clinton’s staff hangout during the 1992 election campaign, and bears his image on the walls to this day. The famous interview with Clinton, published in Rolling Stone magazine, was carried out over a steak at Doe’s, with Clinton dressed down in khaki and giving a brief low-down on the history of Doe’s before the difficult questions ensued. Tamales are also a house speciality, and come with one of three formulae, sauce, sauce and fries, or sauce, fries and salad. A very important fact to remember is that Doe’s classes itself as ‘no-frills’ and it’s no less delicious and culturally significant for this fact.
Doe’s Eat Place, 1023 West Markham Street, Little Rock, AR, USA, +1 501 376 1195