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What's cooking/Capsule reviews Dec. 30 

What's cooking The possibility that P.F. Chang’s will locate its Asian-fusion style cooking in the former home of Little Rock’s Regas Grill on Shackleford Road seems more likely with reports that P.F. Chang’s is taking bids from local construction firms to refit the site to its specifications. Herman’s Ribhouse in Fayetteville will be closed indefinitely after a fire that broke out in its kitchen area during the morning of Dec. 22. Herman’s, at 2901 N. College Ave., is an institution in Northwest Arkansas. Most of the fire damage was limited to the kitchen area; though the entire restaurant received some smoke damage, much of the memorabilia in the front of the eatery was undamaged. New capsule reviews CHIP’S BARBECUE Believe it or not, in all the years this reviewer has been clogging his arteries with Little Rock’s myriad incarnations of Saint ’Cue, we’ve never darkened the door of one of the originals: Chip’s Barbecue on West Markham. A survivor since the days back when West Little Rock meant John Barrow Road, Chip’s has been dishing up the good stuff since 1960. Having finally succumbed to the glow of their red neon sign on a recent night, we now understand their staying power. Big mounds of pulled pork and beef were made only better by some of the best side dishes we’ve had (though the sauce was a bit funky to our taste, with something like a sweet-pickle whang to it). The real find at Chip’s, however, was its big case full of honest-to-goodness homemade pies. Just when you thought pies like that had gone the way of the roller-skating carhop, there they were, in all their glory and in nearly every sweet flavor on God’s green earth. Tasty; oh, so tasty. We’ll be making a return trip to Chip’s soon — as in the next time we find ourselves pie-hungry. 9801 W. Markham, 225-4346. $$ CC. No alcohol. IRIANA’S The daily homemade minestrone, conjured up by owner John Iriana from an old family recipe, is back. It’s chockfull of an assortment of vegetables, far from those watered-down varieties. It’s seasoned nicely, though some salt-lovers may want to add another pinch to their bowl ($1.89). It goes well with a lunch-time slice of “sweep-the-floor” pizza ($1.99), the traditional Iriana’s thick crust supporting a dozen add-ons piled on top of the delicious mozzarella. W. Markham St., 374-3656. L Mon.-Sat. D 7 days. $-$$. CC Beer and wine.
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