It might surprise people to learn that Little Rock, Arkansas is a food town. We LOVE our local restaurants in Little Rock. Chains tend to come and go while local restaurants thrive.
The following is an extensive list of some of the best restaurants in Little Rock in alphabetical order.
You may already know that we are connoisseurs of cheese dip in Arkansas, so it won’t come as a surprise that there are several Mexican restaurants on this list. There is also a burgeoning craft beer scene in the Little Rock area.
Pizza is also an ongoing favorite as are burgers. In addition to “holes in the wall” and fast casual dining you will also find fine dining on this list and everything in between.
It was SO hard to narrow the restaurants down even to 25 that we think you ought to try.
However, if you are a visitor and only have time for a few restaurants in Little Rock scroll to the bottom of the post where Emily and I will tell you our top 5 favorite restaurants in Little Rock.
25 Favorite Local Restaurants in Little Rock
Be sure and check the websites of these local restaurants in Little Rock for opening days and times!
Allsopp and Chapple
Allsopp and Chapple is one of the newer downtown restaurants. They are located in the Rose Building which was designed by the same man who designed the state capital building. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings in downtown.
Best of all they have delicious food (if you are a meat lover try the steak) and beautiful craft cocktails. The service is always friendly and impeccable.
@ The Corner
At the Corner, is located on the corner of Markham and Scott in the River Market District of Little Rock and serves a great brunch. They do have a burger and a few sandwiches on the menu, but, really, you come here for brunch food. This is a fun, casual place with indoor dining and a few outdoor tables as well.
You might find a line out the door but it typically moves quickly and the food is worth the wait! Always check out the brunch specials that they serve on the weekends. These are always delicious.
Big Orange is a great, slightly upscale burger joint with a location in Midtown as well as in West Little Rock. The West Little Rock location has a great patio for seating during pretty weather.
Try the hickory smoke burger or if you want something a little different try the white truffle and pecorino cheese burger with fig jam. Yum! You probably want to have a shake and the house made chips to accompany your burger.
They also serve a really good vegetarian burger. There are excellent salads and gluten free bread available as well.
Brave New Restaurant
Brave New Restaurant happens to be our favorite special occasion restaurant in Little Rock. The location might seem strange at first as it is located in an office building on Cantrell Road between the bottom of Cantrell Hill and downtown Little Rock.
Once inside the restaurant you realize that it is actually a perfect spot. The views of the Arkansas River are beautiful and the atmosphere is casually elegant. The restaurant is quiet enough to have a conversation or a luncheon business meeting but not so quiet that you feel like you have to whisper.
The food is amazing here, beautifully cooked and beautifully plated. Always listen for the specials, they are typically superb.
Bruno’s Little Italy
Bruno’s Little Italy is a long time Little Rock favorite. I remember coming to Bruno’s (in a different location) when I was a child. The history of the family and of the restaurant are fascinating and worth a read on their website. They are now located on the revitalized Main Street in downtown Little Rock.
This is old school southern Italian food using many of the exact recipes handed down from Jimmy Bruno who immigrated to the US in the early 20th century. Great minestone soup, great sauces, old fashioned pasta dishes. This is hearty, family, Italian food.
Locals lovingly call the smoked turkey salad at Burge’s “turkey crack.” Yes, it is positively addictive. If you take a pint home you are very like to find yourself bingeing turkey salad with crackers in front of an open refrigerator.
Burge’s is an Arkansas institution that visitors might not hear about. We think that needs to change. Their turkey salad sandwich is on our list of the best sandwiches in Central Arkansas.
Burge’s smokes their own turkeys and hams so it is also your spot for holiday meals. Everything here is delicious. In addition to the turkey salad people also go crazy for their turkey and ham melts.
Capital Bar and Grill
Located in the historic Capital Hotel the Capital Bar and Grill is a quintessential southern hotel bar. They serve slightly fancy southern comfort food and slightly upscale southern cocktails. It is a darkish room with lots of wood, a gorgeous bar, and a very friendly atmosphere.
You will feel comfortable coming here for a business lunch, a casual date night, or to catch up with friends after work. The food and drinks are excellent with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients.
Cheers in the Heights
Everyone might not know your name at Cheers in the Heights but you will definitely experience a friendly, neighborhood feeling at this Little Rock institution. Cheers is on our list of the best cheese dip in Little Rock, but this restaurant offers so much more.
They serve fresh and delicious food, much of it with a Cajun twist. You will want to try the Pasta Orleans…and start with the fried green tomatoes topped with shrimp and remoulade.
Cheers also has excellent salads, the chopped salmon salad with pesto buttermilk dressing is a personal favorite.
Ciao Baci is located in an historic house in the lovely Hillcrest Neighborhood of Little Rock. It is a locally favorite spot for drinks which can be served on the patio or indoors. You can enjoy a wine from their nice list or a wonderful and inventive cocktail.
Ciao Baci also has a dinner menu which features appetizers to share such as calamari, bruschetta, and a charcuterie plate as well as individual dishes. This is such a warm and comfortable place to gather with friends.
The Fold is one of the most happy and colorful restaurants in Little Rock. It is located in what was originally a gas station and auto repair shop. Boy, have they reimagined this place! It still has some of it’s vintage charm in the lines of the building but it is bright and fun with tons of open air seating.
They are known for their excellent cocktails, particularly the margaritas, which are often named as the best in Little Rock. However, we think that are all good! The cocktails change with the season so there is always something new to try.
But The Fold is not just about the cocktails…the food is all fresh and excellent as well.
Heights Taco and Tamale
Looking for some more upscale Mexican food in Little Rock? Heights Taco and Tamale is definitely the place to go.
Not only do they have the best cheese dip in town but everything else is delicious as well. The atmosphere at Heights Taco and Tamale is loud and happily instagram-able. It is a great place to gather with friends. We love it!
Try the verde enchiladas…and a mojito. Honestly, all the food is good. You can’t go wrong with anything you select.
Hill Station is one of the newer restaurants in Little Rock. It is located in the Hillcrest neighborhood and has quickly become a favorite gathering and outdoor dining spot. This is a perfect place to come when the weather is good or when the razorbacks are playing in the evening.
The outdoor seating is some of the best in town, they have beer and wine and a full bar with some interesting cocktail choices. The food is great as well. I would describe it as elevated bar/pub food. Try the pimento bean split as an appetizer!
Kemuri Japanese Restaurant
Kemuri has, in our opinion, the best sushi in town. The atmosphere is quiet and casually refined. It is a great place for conversation and catching up with friends or family. We love to try their small dishes to share and they are all delicious.
The service is always wonderful here. If you aren’t familiar with types of sushi you will find that your server is very knowledgeable and can help you select something you will love.
The Lassis Inn is one of the most historic restaurants in Little Rock. It was founded in about 1905 by Joe and Molassis (hence the name) Watson and is one of the oldest restaurants in the state that is still in its original location. During the Civil Rights Movement the restaurant was a refuge for African Americans and provided a place for food and meeting and planning.
Located in their historic blue house The Lassis Inn serves a small menu of fish and sides, fried catfish, catfish steaks, and hushpuppies that have a spicy kick. It is also one of the few restaurants to serve what they call “fish ribs” which is made from buffalo fish.
Laylas Gyro is in the same strip mall on Rodney Parham as Taqueria El Palenque which is listed below. It is a hidden gym in town with very tasty Greek food as well as some interesting pizza options. I definitely recommend the hummus and salads at Layla’s and of course, the gyros are delicious.
This is a super casual and delicious Little Rock restaurant with a great family atmosphere.
Lost 40 Brewing
But don’t limit yourself to those two items. Everything is good at Lost 40.
The Oyster Bar
The Oyster Bar, located in the historic Stifft’s station neighborhood, is a longtime Little Rock institution. New ownership has brought about a complete revitalization and rebranding of this beloved space. It is now bright and lively with a fun and friendly atmosphere.
Best of all, the food is also new and improved with a true oyster bar that raw oyster aficionados will adore.
The Pantry and Pantry Crest
There are two Pantry restaurants, The Pantry on Rodney Parham and Pantry Crest in the Hillcrest neighborhood. Both locations offer Czech and German classics including house made Bratwurst and Hungarian sausage. The quality of the food is amazing.
The Pantry almost made it into our list of the top 5 restaurants in Little Rock. (located at the bottom of this post) It’s that good and always consistent.
All the food is delicious, but I can’t go there without having the truffle deviled eggs from the “Nibbles” section of the menu. I mean…y’all…so good.
Petit and Keet
Petit and Keet is a polished casual bar and restaurant in West Little Rock. It is definitely a favorite among locals for date nights, drinks and dinner with friends, and special occasions. They have a wonderful patio for dining as well as an outdoor bar. The interior dining is quietly elegant, but not at all stuffy.
They are often mentioned as one of the best overall restaurants! We think that the Peachy Keet is one of the best cocktails in Little Rock and we adore their crab cake appetizer. All of the main dishes are excellent as is the service.
We have a lot of pizza places in Little Rock and The Pizzeria is considered by many to be the best of the bunch. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming and the service is always superb. The pizza crust here is just right; not too thin, not too thick, with just enough crunch and always the right amount of toppings.
All the pizza options are good but the four cheese is one of our favorites. The Pizzeria also has great craft cocktails and decadent desserts!
The Root Cafe
They are known for using fresh and locally sourced ingredients. The atmosphere is fun and friendly and casual. They have one of our favorite sandwiches in town and, in our opinion, the best burger in Little Rock.
We brought a guest from out of town here once and he said that it was the best burger he had ever had in his life. The Root also has several vegetarian friendly options.
Sims Bar-B-Que located on John Barrow Road is a Little Rock tradition that smokes and serves good old fashioned pork or beef barbecue with an excellent sauce that has just the right amount of spice and vinegar and sweetness. It is a thinner sauce – not one of those super thick sweet ones and, like at all the best BBQ joints, the recipe is a secret.
They serve both pork and beef at Sims Bar-B. It is always perfectly smoked and if you order a sandwich it will come on white bread…as it should. Yeah, you can order a sandwich on a bun but why would you want to?
The ribs and sides and smoked sausage and bologna are also excellent.
South on Main
South on Main is located, unsurprisingly in the SoMa (south Main) neighborhood of Little Rock. South on Main serves southern food with a modern twist. The ingredients are good and fresh and the menus are seasonal but you will often find items such as: fried chicken, a pimento cheese burger, a southern veggie plate…yum!
In addition to being a great restaurant South on Main has a full service bar and is a music venue. Be sure and check their calendar for events!
Taqueria El Palenque
In our opinion the best Mexican food is almost always found in the most unassuming places. This is definitely the case for Taqueria El Palenque. They are located unobtrusively on one end of a strip mall on Rodney Parham road and serve some of the best Mexican food in Little Rock!
Don’t let the appearance throw you off. You have got to have a meal at Taqueria El Palenque. It is legit. We love their street tacos – especially the pastor – but also take a look at the burritos. Everything is good here.
Three Fold Noodles and Dumplings
Three Fold Noodles and Dumplings is our go-to stop for lunch whenever we are in downtown Little Rock. They will soon be opening a West Little Rock location near my house which could be trouble for me.
Three Fold has a small menu of noodle bowls, dumplings, and steamed buns. We happen to be dumpling fans! You can have them filled with pork, chicken, or veggies or get any combination of the three. If you are a spice lover try the poison dunking sauce. But you can also turn down the heat with a medium or mild sauces.
US Pizza Company
US Pizza Company is one of those home-town favorites that is so ingrained in the local psyche that it is hard to tell if visitors will actually like it. It’s one of those places that someone raised in Little Rock will get a sudden hankering for but I’m never sure if it will appeal to visitors. If you try it let me know!
US Pizza is a small local chain and every location that I have visited has an amazing patio.
Their pizza has a thin cracker crust which we love. US Pizza is also locally known for their salad. It is a simple salad, just iceberg lettuce with a choice of ham, turkey or chicken, then topped with mushrooms, olives, green peppers, bacon bits, and onion.
I think that it is actually is the great homemade salad ranch type salad dressing that the locals might like. The dressing is also perfect for dipping your leftover bits of pizza crust.
Our Top 5 Favorite Restaurants in Little Rock
I hope that you enjoyed our list of 25 favorite restaurants in Little Rock. We decided that we needed to try to narrow it down for visitors by each selecting our top 5 favorites.
Wow! This was so hard to determine! We like so many of the Little Rock restaurants. We did agree on Kemuri and Heights Taco and Tamale but after that our opinions diverged.
Of course our list is a matter of personal taste and opinion and we would love to hear yours! Let us know in the comments what you think are the best local restaurants in Little Rock!
Our favorites are not in any particular order.
Emily’s Top 5 Favorite Restaurants in Little Rock
Thanks so much for stopping by!