What are the five best Little Rock food experiences?

Answers from Our Experts (1)

Little Rock's restaurant scene is just beginning to come into its own. A generation of chefs trained at the famous — and now closed — Jacques and Suzanne's have gone on to create other restaurants of their own. Other great chefs have come to the city, and with the creation of the Arkansas Culinary School five years ago there are new chefs just waiting in the wings for the next series of possibilities.

1. For a purely Arkansas sort of flavor, you must start at Capital Hotel with either Capital Bar and Grill or Ashley's. Both restaurants are under the tutelage and guidance of chef Lee Richardson. Both feature new interpretations of Arkansas and Southern dishes, with ingredients from local farmers and ranchers. Everything from the bacon to the jam is made right in-house, and you can’t beat the charming service.

2. For fine dining in West Little Rock, you should try 1620 Restaurant. A place where powerful alliances and lifelong commitments are made, the restaurant is best suited for two-person dining. A mouth-watering series of appetizers will likely start to fill your gullet long before dinner arrives. Order your crêpe when you arrive.

3. For incredible Asian fusion fare, Lilly's Dim Sum Then Some offers amazing inspired creations at reasonable prices. The décor is upscale, the waitstaff well trained and the food tasty. Owner Kathy Webb has created a new standard for other mid-range Arkansas restaurants to achieve.

4. The best Indian fare you may find in the Mid-South may be found at Star of India. Longtime proprietor Sami Lal knows every customer by name, even if you don't visit more than once a decade. The food is handcrafted by dish and worth the wait.

5. For an intimate Italian experience, seek out Ciao downtown on West Seventh Street. The chef will cook your dish to order — that is, if you're not tempted away by gorgeous pasta dishes in impossibly rich sauces. The focaccia setup with its separate dipping ramekins of balsamic-olive reduction and green onion spread shouldn't be missed.

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