The Best Restaurants in Little Rock (2024)

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Stacey Greenberg

The Best Restaurants in Little Rock (1)

Did you know Little Rock was named after an actual rock formation? And you better bet it was a small one. It's also where the American Taekwondo Association has its world headquarters. Now that we've established those obscure facts, let's talk about the food and drink scene. It may not be nationally lauded, but Little Rock's no place to sleep on or pass up. With eight breweries, numerous no-nonsense dining establishments, and a James Beard award-winning chef helming a Michelin-rated hotel restaurant, we have but just one question: Can you smell what the (Little) Rock is cookin'?

The Best Restaurants in Little Rock (2)

South on Main


South on Main is everything a literary nerd desires in a restaurant. The Oxford American Magazine is headquartered next door and the restaurant collaborates with them by hosting writer events, live musical performances, and film screenings that showcase the best of Southern culture. Chef Matthew Bell’s extensively Southern menu features favorites like boiled peanuts, pork rinds, pimento cheese, hot chicken, and those oft-overlooked but wholly delicious chicken livers.



The atmosphere at Cache is chic and modern. It’s situated in the middle of all of the nightlife action in Downtown Little Rock and is the perfect place to celebrate special occasions. Chef Payne Harding also hosts a chef’s table that seats one to eight. The upstairs is great for live music, cigars, or a nightcap. Cache also does a nice lunch -- try Fried Chicken Friday (fried chicken, fried summer squash, blue cheese cole slaw, and cornbread for $12) to get a taste of what they have to offer.

The Best Restaurants in Little Rock (3)

The Pantry

West Little Rock

Coming up on its eighth birthday, Tomas Bohm’s original restaurant specializing in Czech and German classics is still a hometown favorite. In addition to delectable menu items like house made Bratwurst, Hungarian sausage, bacon-wrapped dates, grilled romaine salad, and cheesecake, there’s a hearty assortment of renowned craft beers. Best of all, the kitchen is open until midnight Monday through Saturday, the prices are affordable, the staff are friendly and knowledgeable, AND there’s a patio.

Brave New Restaurant


Brave New Restaurant has certainly stood the test of time. Opened by Chef/Owner Peter Brave in 1991, it overlooks the pristine Arkansas River, so it's highly recommended you find a seat on the patio. The menu features favorites such as avocado shrimp, grilled romaine salad, stuffed quail, pork tenderloin, and crème brûlée. Everything is farm fresh and it’s an easy choice for "clean" eaters.

The Best Restaurants in Little Rock (4)

Big Orange

West Little Rock

Big Orange is Little Rock’s go-to place for upscale burgers. The meat is locally sourced, and the buns are made fresh daily in Benton. If beef isn’t your thing, turkey and veggie patties are available too. Burgers are just the tip of the iceberg as Big Orange is also known for its hand-cut fries and potato chips, inspired salads and hand-dipped, fresh whipped shakes. There’s also local coffee, local beer, draft wine, and a pretty amazing co*cktail menu. Have a seat and stay awhile.

The Root Cafe


Located Downtown in the old Sweden cream building, The Root is a tremendously popular farm-to-table breakfast and lunch spot that offers a number of delicious vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. They source 100% of the meat, eggs, and bread they serve, as well as the majority of their vegetables, fruits, nuts, and cheeses from small farms and producers in Arkansas. Menu highlights include eggs banh mi, house-made brats and burgers, and sweet potato fries. They also have a full coffee menu and an assemblage of local beers.

The Best Restaurants in Little Rock (5)

Heights Tacos and Tamales

The Heights

Heights Taco & Tamale features Mexican and Tex-Mex inspired dishes with a local, seasonal, and unquestionably Arkansas influence... a little something they like to call “Ark-Mex.” They smoke their own meats, make their own tamales and tortillas, and offer a variety of house-made sauces, syrups, and dressings. Menu go-tos include cheese dip, pickle-fried chicken tacos, hot delta tamales, and frozen mojitos.

Vino's Brewpub


Vino’s put Little Rock’s beer scene on the map and is considered a local stalwart. It may be a little grungy, but the hand-tossed, stone-baked, New York-style pizza will not disappoint, and the calzones are phenomenal. Vino’s secret? They don't try too hard, and it's working. In addition to brewing their own beer, they also host occasional rock shows and poetry slams.

The Best Restaurants in Little Rock (6)

The Fold


Specializing in botanas (snacks) and bar offerings (handcrafted co*cktails), The Fold is the place to go if you want your drinks to be as exciting as your food. With the recent upgrade of the patio, it’s also perfect for Taco Tuesday, weekend brunch, or basically any day where the sun's out. The menu boasts some great vegetarian options like beet salad, sweet potato and kale tacos, a fried avocado torta, and cheese & jalapeño tamales. But don’t worry, there are plenty of meat and seafood options too. Order a blood orange margarita to kick things off.

Star of India

West Little Rock

Look no further for amazing Indian food in Little Rock. Open since 1993, it is beloved by locals and heralded for its warm and friendly service. Owner Sami Lal is likely to welcome you “home” as you come in the door, and thanks to his photographic memory he will never forget your face. The lunch buffet is legendary, as are the fresh curries, samosas, chicken tikka masala, and naan. If you leave hungry, it’s your fault.

The Best Restaurants in Little Rock (7)

One Eleven


One Eleven in the Capital Hotel offers the finest dining in town. Michelin-starred, James Beard award-winning Chef Joel Antunes created his menu using the freshest available ingredients and brought in a renowned staff who know the food front to back. It offers breakfast, lunch (including an express lunch), brunch (on Sunday), and dinner. Bonus, the lobby bar almost never closes and is frequented by political types, if you ever want to gripe about potholes or try to get some stories about Bill Clinton.

The Southern Gourmasian


Chef Justin Patterson’s gourmet Asian fare definitely has an obvious Southern influence. He started out with a food truck, but quickly realized he’d need a brick-and-mortar to keep up with demand. His creations are prepared fresh daily and are unlike anything else in town -- pork belly corn dogs, grilled kimcheese sandwiches, Thai chicken burgers, and chicken fried cauliflower steak.

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Stacey Greenberg lives in Cooper Young with her two sons. She is the author of the award winning Dining with Monkeys blog.

The Best Restaurants in Little Rock (2024)


What is Little Rock known for food? ›

Little Rock may be best known for its cheese dip and barbecue, but the city's restaurant scene extends far beyond these iconic foods. Venture outside the box and sample the delectable Indian, Latin American, and creative New American cuisine that can be found here.

Why is Little Rock so famous? ›

The 65th Anniversary of Desegregation at Central High School

In September 1957, Little Rock Central High School was at the center of international attention when Governor Orval E. Faubus ordered the Arkansas National Guard to prevent nine Black students from attending. President Dwight D.

Who owns George's in Little Rock? ›

Behind the restaurant are Little Rock natives Mary Olive and John Stephens, who were inspired by their travels abroad to bring “Italian excellence with local taste” to The Heights.

What food is Arkansas known for? ›

Arkansas is known for Southern Hush Puppies, Arkansas Possum Pie, and Southern Biscuits with Chocolate Gravy. It's also the leading producer of rice in the U.S.A., so I shared a Skillet Lemon Chicken & Rice to showcase one of Arkansas's best crops.

What part of Little Rock is nice? ›


In the heart of metro Little Rock, sits the beautiful Riverdale area with a population of just over 1,600 and a vast expanse of hiking trails, pristine golf courses, activities like volleyball and archery at Murray Park, and access to the longest pedestrian bridge in the United States.

Is Little Rock worth visiting? ›

As Arkansas's capital city, Little Rock is renowned for its charming hospitality, history and culture. Recently ranked the third most “Travel Worthy State Capital,” by USA Today readers, Little Rock continues to garner national and international acclaim for its quality of life and tourism amenities.

What is a cool fact about Little Rock? ›

Little Rock is home to over 200,000 people, the most populated city in the US. Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, was incorporated on November 7, 1831. It sits on the south bank of the Arkansas River near the center of the state. In its early days, Central Little Rock was inhabited by Native Americans.

Why do people live in Little Rock? ›

What is there to do in Little Rock, AR? Little Rock is a great place to live for those who enjoy the outdoors. The region is an easy drive from Pinnacle Mountain State Park, Ouachita National Forest and the stunning Ozark Mountains. Hot Springs National Park is only an hour away.

Why do they call Little Rock Little Rock? ›

Benard de la Harpe, a Frenchman leading an exploration party up the Arkansas River on April 9, 1722, noted the first outcropping of the rock he had seen along the banks since leaving New Orleans. He reportedly called it 'la petite roche' or 'the little rock,' to distinguish it from a larger cliff across the river.

What sandwich is Arkansas known for? ›

Arkansas: Fried Bologna Sandwich.

What is the state drink of Arkansas? ›

aka: Milk. In 1985, the Arkansas General Assembly designated milk the state's official beverage. Introduced by Representative Bobby Glover of the Seventy-second District (covering Prairie County and part of Lonoke County), Act 998 met with no opposition and became effective on June 28 of that year.

What famous person lived in Arkansas? ›

From Bill Clinton to Mary Steenburgen, several famous and well-known people have roots in Arkansas. The following list highlights some of the country's most prominent people who were either born in the state or lived here at some time in their lives.

What is unique about Little Rock Arkansas? ›

Some must-visit attractions in Little Rock include the Clinton Presidential Library, the Historic Arkansas Museum, the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, and the Big Dam Bridge.

Did cheese dip originate in Arkansas? ›

Did you know that cheese dip may have been invented in Arkansas? A cheese dip historian traced the dish to the Mexico Chiquito restaurant in Little Rock in 1935, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.

What is the nickname for Little Rock Arkansas? ›

City of Roses” had been the nickname during the late 1800s up through the middle part of the 20th Century. The City solicited suggestions and then narrowed over 200 submissions down to six. The public was then invited to respond to the six. “The Rock” was the top choice of respondents.

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