Pulled pork pros 

Capitol Smokehouse and Grill does Arkansas barbecue right.

Even though it's less than a mile from our office, we've often overlooked Capitol Smokehouse and Grill. That it sits, as the name suggests, near the State Capitol in an area otherwise largely devoid of restaurants might be part of it. That we're partial to Sims, Whole Hog and the White Pig Inn is probably another reason. But surely there's room for another purveyor of smoked meats in our rotation, particularly when it does pulled pork as well as Capitol Smokehouse.

In two visits, we tried all smoked meats available — pulled pork, dry-rub ribs and smoked chicken — and the pulled pork was clearly the star. It comes, as part of a plate ($7.50), either as a mound of meat or as a sandwich. We sampled both. To get a sense of the quality of the meat, we first tried it mostly without sauce, and it was juicy, tender, smoky tasting, awesome. As a sandwich, with a big spoonful of sweet, mayonnaise-based cole slaw on top, it went down even better with samples from Capitol Smokehouse's sauce selection. The hot sauce, which the restaurant's guide describes aptly as "spicy traditional Southern," was a favorite, as was the Froggy Bottom, a mustard and vinegar concoction with more thickness than you'll find at Sims or on Carolina barbecue. Also available: a tangy hickory sauce called Pig Trail that didn't do much for us and Mild and XXX, opposite extremes that we steered clear of for fear of taking away from that tasty meat.

The brisket ($9.99) was pretty much the opposite of the pork. It might just be advisable to avoid ordering brisket outside of Texas if you're not at Smokin' Buns in north Pulaski County. You can only be disappointed so many times before a moratorium must be called, such as on Philly cheese steaks outside of Philadelphia or muffalettas outside southernmost Louisiana.

The half slab of ribs ($10.99) was adequate, with good smoky flavor and a really tasty dry rub being somewhat diminished by fairly dry meat that clung — often tenaciously — to the bone. The smoked chicken quarter ($7.50) was terrifically juicy, but while the rub — heavy on a tang that no one in our party could identify — wasn't bad, it wasn't a flavor combination that came close to contending with the pork.

Capitol Smokehouse operates like a lot of meat and threes. You grab a tray; pick your meat, which includes daily specials like meatloaf and fried chicken, and pick your sides. The jalapeno cornbread was a highlight. It had a great heat level and walked the line perfectly between cornbread that's too dry and crumbly and that which is too greasy. Macaroni and cheese was serviceable, hot and tasty. A squash casserole with a crispy top layer was a nice counterbalance to the saltiness of the other items. The baked beans could've used a little more heat, but were fine; it's mighty hard to mess up baked beans. The homemade chips were better the second time we tried them because they'd clearly just come out of the fryer, but were good enough cold that we can't imagine not getting them again on a return trip.

Capitol Smokehouse is a small place and as such it fits a number of its tables too close together. Sitting comfortably often means nearly blocking the way for traffic to move. That said, on both visits, once during lunch rush and another time well after it was over, we managed. Be warned, though: a table in the southwest corner of the restaurant sits underneath a gap where the ceiling tile has been removed. We got dripped on the first time we went for lunch and noticed that the ceiling still hadn't been repaired two weeks later when we returned recently.


From the ArkTimes store

Related Locations


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Most Shared

  • ASU to reap $3.69 million from estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn

    Arkansas State University announced today plans for spending an expected $3.69 million gift in the final distribution of the estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn, who died in 2013 and 2015 respectively.
  • Bad health care bill, again

    Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators.
  • Sex on campus

    Look, the Great Campus Rape Crisis was mainly hype all along. What Vice President Joe Biden described as an epidemic of sexual violence sweeping American college campuses in 2011 was vastly overstated.

Latest in Dining Review

  • Right at the corner

    The Restaurant at the Market dishes up date-night deliciousness.
    • Sep 21, 2017
  • Tastes right

    But Brave New needs a tune-up.
    • Sep 14, 2017
  • La Ha forever

    The newly spiffed-up Mexican favorite still warms hearts, bellies.
    • Sep 7, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Tastes right

    • 'Diogenes - I'm glad you've had good meals there. However on Saturday May 28th 2011…

    • on September 20, 2017
  • Re: Tastes right

    • Big Fun you seem to be suffering from Pteronarcophobia :-)

    • on September 20, 2017
  • Re: Tastes right

    • BeoWulfie, how many dead-for-days flies did you see at Brave New?

    • on September 20, 2017

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation