Favorite

Best breakfast in Arkansas: Central Arkansas 

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.

Lulav, Little Rock This recent addition to the breakfast market is a welcome one. The menu includes something for every budget — light pastries, homemade yogurt confections and such for the small budgets, loaded omelets, pork medallions and country ham for the larger budget. The Mediterranean Eggs Benedict with rosemary-shredded potatoes deserve a special shout-out. $$$, 220 W. 6th St., 501-374-5100, lulaveatery.com, 6:30 a.m.-10 a.m. Mon.-Fri.

BEST BACON Ozark Country Restaurant, Little Rock The traditional top vote getter in our Readers Choice poll for breakfast in Little Rock scores with its delicious peppered bacon and Muscadine juice on tap. Another favorite: the pineapple pancakes, which taste like a less-sweet version of pineapple upside down cake and are delicious with real butter and even better with syrup. $$-$$$, 201 Keightly Drive, 501-663-7319, 6 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Mon.-Fri., 6 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun.

Argenta Market, North Little Rock The little market that could, Argenta Market serves up breakfast at the back counter, including chocolate gravy and biscuits. Our favorite is the spinach quiche made from locally grown spinach leaves and locally harvested eggs and served with seasonal fruit. Boulevard Bread and Community Bakery goods are also available. $$ 521 N. Main St., 501-379-9980, argentamarket.com, 9 a.m.-11 a.m. daily.

Kierre's Kountry Kitchen, North Little Rock North Little Rock's (and Maumelle's, for that matter) best place for a country-style breakfast. You can make a meal on the three-biscuits-and-gravy special; the 2x4 (two eggs, two sausages, two slices of bacon and two pancakes) is another favorite. And don't miss the cheese omelet — an envelope-folded omelet packed with cheese and served up with hash browns and toast. $$, 6 Collins Industrial Place, 501-758-0903, kierreskountrykitchen.com, 6 a.m.-10:45 a.m. Tue.-Fri. 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.

BEST WAITRESSES The Diner, Cabot Go for the chicken-fried steak breakfast ($6.99). And for the gentle chiding and good humor of the waitresses, who will break out into an off-key rendition of "Happy Birthday" at the drop of a hat. They remember repeat customers, too. $$, 3286 S. Second St., 501-941-0904, 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Sun.

Hurley House Cafe, Hazen They pack omelets full here. The all-meat-and-cheese omelet comes stuffed with ham, bacon and sausage. It's served with toast. $$, 1303 Hwy. 70 E, 870-255-4679, 6 a.m.-11 a.m. daily.

Bob's Grill, Conway This is where all the regulars have breakfast in Conway; even on the dreariest Monday morning you can find a dozen or so seated before 7 a.m. Try the hash brown plate with all vegetables. It's a mountain of peppers, onions, tomatoes and potatoes topped with cheese and served with toast. $, 1112 Oak St., 501-329-9760, 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Mon.-Sat.

Stoby's, Conway and Russellville It's hard to beat the Northerner, Stoby's hashbrowns and corned beef hash combo. But you can't go wrong with the Ole Omelet ($5.80), a three-egg cheddar cheese omelet packed with Stoby's chili. The colossal cinnamon rolls are 4 inches across and made fresh at Patticakes, the Stoby's-owned bakery adjacent to each restaurant. The meat at Stoby's is Petit Jean brand and homemade strawberry jam comes in a squeeze bottle. $$, 805 Donaghey Ave., Conway 501-327-5447; 405 W. Parkway Drive, Russellville, 479-968-3816; stobys.com, 6 a.m.-11 a.m. Mon.-Fri., 6 a.m.-12 p.m. at both locations.

Mom & Pop's Waffles, Morrilton A former Waffle House, this Hwy. 95 joint is the best place in Conway County to pick up a hot breakfast, hot coffee and local gossip. Try the Strawberry Specialty Waffle, a traditional ironed waffle topped with fresh strawberries and dusted with powdered sugar. $, 1504 Oak St., 501-354-8284, 6 a.m-1 p.m. daily.

CHEESIEST OMELET Wagon Wheel Restaurant, Greenbrier The shoe-sized hamburger steak breakfast is worthy of much mention, with a nice onion-pepper flavor throughout. But the mushroom omelet is the ticket — a traditional thin envelope-fold egg creation stuffed with mushrooms and packed inside and out with a hearty helping of Monterey Jack cheese. Breakfast served all day. $$, 166 S. Broadview St., 501-679-5009, 5:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 5:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.-Sun.

BEST POTATOES Ed & Kay's Restaurant, Benton There's a 16-ounce bone-in ham steak on the menu that's celebrated, and the Everything Omelet really does contain just about everything except the kitchen sink. But it's the fried potatoes that really won us over — shreds of red potato thicker than hash browns but not quite home fry size, liberally seasoned and buttered and completely irresistible. Breakfast served all day. $$, 15228 Interstate 30 N., 501-315-3663, 6 a.m.-4 p.m. Wed.-Sun.

Home Plate Diner, Bryant Home of the soft, delicious masterpiece that is cinnamon roll French toast. That's cinnamon rolls cut horizontally in half, battered and skillet fried. Probably bad for you, but oh so good. $$, 2615 N. Prickett Road, 501-847-3331, homeplatediner.com, 7:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Mon.-Fri., 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sat.

English Muffin, Hot Springs Every day, the Muffin brings in fresh Wolferman's English muffins in a dozen or so different flavors. They're always good, but our favorite here is the seafood omelet, an extraordinarily fluffy omelet full of tender shrimp and crabmeat topped with a seafood cream sauce. $$, 4832 Central Ave., 501-525-2710, 6 a.m.-2 p.m. daily.

Jack's Pancake-N-Steak House, Hot Springs Decadent favorites like Sticky Caramel Nut French Toast and the Famous Hash Brown Omelet are good choices. Try the Famous Banana Split Pancakes and the blueberry-pecan pancakes; topped with bananas, strawberries and whipped cream, the latter become something close to dessert. Yum. Breakfast served all day. $$, 1105 Albert Pike Road, 501-624-5568, 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Sun.-Tue., 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Wed.-Sat.

Pancake Shop, Hot Springs You can't go wrong at a place where the waitresses still call you "honey." With an atmosphere lost in the '60s (and prices to match), this is the place in Spa City to get breakfast before heading out to the track or to the baths. Pancakes come hanging over the edge of the plate and with several options of fruit topping. The apple butter is homemade and terrific on biscuits. $, 216 Central Ave, 501-624-5720, pancakeshop.com, 6 a.m.-12:45 p.m. daily.

Anne's Country Cafe, Pine Bluff Fat omelets and oversized portions come out of the kitchen at this joint on Highway 79 with a little sass from the well established wait staff. Try the New York omelet, a ground beef-and-American cheese creation served up with two biscuits and a side. They'll give you more grits than you can handle if you let them. $, 3714 Camden Road, 870-879-0057, 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat. and Sun.

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