Ashley's at the Capital, Little Rock The decor and ambience of Ashley's might strike some as overbearingly high-toned, but the food is approachable, particularly at breakfast. Probably because, as the Capital's James Beard-nominated chef Lee Richardson says, everything "begins with a focus on Arkansas products." The scope of Richardson's in-house operation is almost dizzying. He buys flour from War Eagle, from which he makes sourdough buckwheat pancakes and the bread he serves as toast. He makes "hundreds" of pounds of jam and preserve from just about every type of fruit the area has to offer. Local sorghum sweetens the butter for toast and biscuits. Eggs are locally pastured. The sausage and bacon come from local heritage pork. Grits come, inventively, from Arkansas grown rice. And the list goes on. Don't miss Ashley's Signature Breakfast, chocolate French toast served with caramelized bananas and a side of apple wood smoked bacon. $$$$, 111 W. Markham St., 501-370-7011, capitalhotel.com, 7 a.m.-10 a.m. daily.
B-Side, Little Rock While the beignets with lemon curd and the bacon-wrapped French toast on a stick get points for pluck, the smoked Gouda grits are what'll make you a repeat customer. The chicken and waffles combo is another favorite. Simplicity executed well is the secret, according to chef Jeffrey Moore (the grandson of Ed Moore of Little Rock's first gourmet restaurant, Jacques and Suzanne's). "Most of our menu items are just four or five ingredients executed well," he says. $$-$$$, 11121 N. Rodney Parham Road, 501-716-2700, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Wed.-Sun.
BEST MEXICAN breakfast Casa Manana, Little Rock Breakfast is served all day at this Little Rock Mexican favorite. Fresh hot tortilla chips and salsa come out with your coffee. Try the Huevos con Machaca: shredded beef and sliced jalapenos, tomatoes, onions and cilantro scrambled with eggs and served with potatoes and beans. The coffee is hot and freshly brewed. $$, 6820 Cantrell Road, 501-280-9888, casamananamexicanfood.com, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat., 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun.
Dave & Ray's Downtown Diner, Little Rock Breakfast done right and for cheap in downtown Little Rock. The cooks know how to properly serve breakfast — veggies are sauteed before they go in the omelet, the sausage is always hot and the eggs are always fluffy. The yellow biscuits are delicious, too. $, 824 W. Capitol Ave., 501-372-8816, 7 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri.
Delicious Temptations, Little Rock For a long time one of the few mid-range non-chain breakfast options in Little Rock, Delicious Temptations continues to offer homemade pancakes and the celebrated Eggs Temptation, a crabmeat take on Eggs Benedict. $$-$$$, 11220 N. Rodney Parham Road, 501-225-6893, 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. daily.
BEST FRENCH TOAST Hayestack Cafe, Little RockYou've got to love a place that serves Green Eggs and Ham (the eggs are dyed) and soft home-style biscuits made from scratch each morning. I adore the French toast with candied pecans and Vanilla Creme Anglaise for just $4.25, the sort of thing for which you'd pay twice as much at an upscale restaurant. $$, 27024 Kanis Road, 501-821-0070, hayestackcafe.com, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. daily.
Frontier Diner, Little Rock The star of the show is the Hog Wild — two eggs, biscuits, gravy and hash browns served up with a nearly inch-thick slice of ham. The French toast is pretty good, too. $$, 10424 Interstate 30, 501-565-6414, 6 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Mon.-Sat.
Leo's Greek Castle, Little Rock Where else in Arkansas can you find an omelet filled with gyro meat? The Greek omelet is a two-fold, golden yellow package stuffed with hot gyro meat, topped with cheese and served with toast. Have a piece of baklava, too. $$, 2925 Kavanaugh Blvd., 501-666-7414, 7 a.m.-11 a.m. Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat., 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sun.
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