I’ve been writing these travel articles for awhile now, and have yet to touch on my favorite food joints in what was, until recently, my home town. These aren’t exactly the fine dining establishments that you would see most people talk about when they talk about food in Little Rock, but they are my all time favorite places to eat. I have lost count how many times I’ve eaten at each of these restaurants.
Whole Hog Cafe:
Whole Hog Cafe won top honors in the 2000, 2002, and 2008 Memphis-in-May World Barbecue Championships – including 1st place in the Whole Hog category in 2002.
Whole Hog Cafe was opened in 2000 by Ron Blasingame, Mike “Sarge” Davis, and Steve Lucchi who have devoted themselves to the pursuit of barbecue perfection. Their devotion is reflected in dishes served in the Whole Hog Café each day – succulent pulled pork, tender beef brisket & smoked chicken, and of course, Whole Hog’s award-winning ribs.
My husband I pretty much stick to the pulled pork on a bun topped with coleslaw. He loves the potato salad as a side and I love the barbecued beans. We both tend to pick up a brownie as our other side. Arkansas’ own Diamond Bear Pale Ale is my favorite option available on tap.
The meat is tasty enough not to need sauce, but if you want to add a little on top, each table is provided with six to choose from: #1 (classic barbecue sauce; sweet and mild), # 2 (tangy tomato; smooth sweet, and slightly spicy), # 3 (same as #2, but spicier), # 4 (traditional Southern vinegar and spice), # 5 (sweet, dark & bold molasses flavor), and #6 (rich mustard and vinegar; and Old South favorite).
My favorite is #4 and my husband’s is #6.
Rosalinda’s Restaurante Hondureño:
A visit to Rosalinda’s Restaurante Hondureño in North Little Rock is an exploration of the flavors of both Honduran, and Salvadoran food. The cuisine is a fusion of indigenous Indian, Spanish, Carribean and African Cuisine. Led by head cook Rosalinda Santos, a native Honduran, they offer authentic Central American food. This is not Tex-Mex. Be prepared for unfamiliar ingredients and condiments like yuca (a starchy root, somewhat like a potato), plantains (a more starchy, “cooking” banana), and curtido (a pickled cabbage, onion, and carrot topping).
If we stick to pupusas, carne pastel (meat pastries), or tamales our ticket is usually under ten bucks! Pupusas are a thick handmade corn flour tortilla stuffed with cheese, chicharron (cooked pork meat ground to a paste), refried beans, and/or loroco (a vine flower bud native to Central America). These come with just one filling, or a combination of fillings, and are served with curtido and salsa roja. Each pupusa is only $2 and is filling all on its own. This is one of our favorite offerings on the menu.
“When Don Dugan purchased Markham Street Grill & Pub (formerly Kellie’s Bistro), he started working to improve the culinary expectations you might have from a pub. By making food from scratch and to order it really elevated what Pub food can be. In 2011 Don sold Markham Street Grill and Pub and has put his full focus into Dugan’s Pub.”
My all time favorite is the Bangers and Mash: grilled (homemade) Irish sausage and onions served with fresh mashed potatoes and covered with Guiness mushroom gravy. I also love the Fish n’ chips: two filets of fresh cod fried in hand made batter and served with fries, coleslaw, and tartar sauce and the Irish farmhouse breakfast: rashers, bangers, eggs, and grilled tomato served with brown soda bread.
And, of course, they have Guiness on tap.
Layla’s Pizzeria and Gyros:
Mahmoud Jitali’s Mediterranean restaurant and halal grocery is a true halal dining experience. Layla’s serves a wide array of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food. And they have the best lentil soup that I have ever had!
My husband’s absolute favorite sandwich is the falafel, fried chickpea patties served in a pita. I have way too many favorites. I love the feta spinach salad, the spinach pizza, the Greek pizza, Greek pasta, and yogurt chicken–and as I mentioned already the wonderful lentil soup.
Larry’s Pizza is owned and operated by Larry White. He started in 1992 with one location in Little Rock and has now expanded into nine locations, with more coming. Larry’s pizza is one of a kind with options like: loaded baked potato pizza with sliced potato, butter, bacon, chives, mozarella, and cheddar cheese layered on a ranch base, or the buffalo chicken ranch pizza with ranch dressing and Frank’s Red Hot® Buffalo Sauce topped with chicken.
My absolute favorite is the simplest pizza of all, though, the Pizza Margherita, with an olive oil base, topped with fresh sliced mozarella cheese and their own blend of spices. And their dessert pizzas are to die for. I can’t leave without having the melt in your mouth chocolate chip peanut butter cookie pizza.
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