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6725 J.F.K. Blvd., North Little Rock.
For a lot of people, "tripa" equals "trepidation," but newcomers to the world of crisp-fried innards can quell their fears with these flavorful, crisp-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside tacos. Pay a visit to Eliella's fresh-made salsa bar to spice things up, or just go au natural with a few diced onions and a squeeze of lime. Either way, tripa this good deserves to be mainstream.
7700 Baseline Road.
Many have imitated but few have gotten just the right blend of vinegary tang, oil and seasoning that makes Ed David's version of soaked salad the local standard. Who'd have thunk of soaking iceberg lettuce in what Louisianans sometimes call olive condite — pimento-stuffed olives, oil, vinegar, oregano, garlic, celery and a bit of chopped tomato. Why would you want to make crisp iceberg limp by doing this? It's counter-intuitive, but it works. A giant platter at Faded Rose with a good length of Leidenheimer po-boy loaf is a meal in itself. Mopping the juice is expected.
1619 Rebsamen Park Road.
Szechuan green beans
Green beans deep fried in a spicy oil with hot peppers and sesame seeds: fantastic. This fiery, crunchy dish is best enjoyed right out of the kitchen. If you're dining with people who are more Cantonese than Szechuan, all the better; you'll get to eat the whole dish. Add a glass of wine and call it a meal.
1900 N Grant St.
Mexican shrimp cocktail
It's just boiled shrimp, cocktail sauce, diced avocado and fresh chopped cilantro in an ice cream sundae glass. But it's cold and tangy and sweet and the Fish cooks the Gulf shrimp just right, to firmness but not tough. No limp crustaceans here.
511 President Clinton Ave.
The Food Truck
The breakfast burrito is a fine invention for these busy times: Take an entire plate breakfast and wrap it up to go in a flour tortilla. And nobody does it better than Jeffrey Palsa does from the back of his faithful truck, Preston. Fresh scrambled eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, and gooey cheese all come together in bite after bite of day-starting bliss, culminating in a gold standard by which all other burritos should be measured.
Various locations; find the latest on Twitter @foodtrucklr.
The oldest continuously functioning restaurant in Little Rock with the single-most requested recipe. The key here is cooking the eggplant to mush, making a dish more about breadcrumbs and cheese and warm comfort than the purple vegetable. Don't knock it until you've tried it.
400 W. Capitol Ave. (inside the Regions Center Building) and 11121 N. Rodney Parham Road.
Hillcrest Artisan Meats
Squishing a freshly-baked, chewy Boulevard Bread baguette between a foil-wrapped brick and a hot, buttered pan takes an already tasty sandwich to near mind-altering status. Thinly sliced La Quercia's prosciutto Americano joins zesty raw red onion, house-made aioli, tomato and provolone to create an unconquerable sandwich. (They're probably even making their own bricks at this always impressive palace of pork.)
2807 Kavanaugh Blvd.
Tuna tataki bento box
Tuna tataki — thinly sliced tuna, lightly seared and served swimming in a ginger and vinegar sauce — stars in this bento box, but we've grown addicted to this lunch-only special because of all that comes with it: miso soup, a small salad topped with tangy ginger dressing, a handful of edamame, potato salad and your choice of a sushi roll (eight pieces). Ten bucks. The roll that all those in know get, the inexplicably-named Happy Chad, doesn't sound that special: salmon, avocado, Japanese mayo and tempura flakes. But it's creamy deliciousness.
Thanks Roy for a good, concise article.
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