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Best Restaurants of Arkansas 2013

Best Restaurants of Arkansas 2013

February 28, 2013

Vol 39 • No 26

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Matthew Bell readies Oxford American restaurant

It'll serve what he calls "refined Southern" fare.

Arkansas Times readers pick best restaurants

As has been recent tradition, this year, all Readers Choice voting took place online (print readers were directed to the online poll).

52 dishes we crave in Central Arkansas

Fill up a year with one great eat a week.

H.A.M., slammed

Hillcrest specialty butcher shop has devoted patrons.

Loblolly serves up old-fashioned (gourmet) ice cream

When Sally Mengel, 26, and Rachel Moore, 25, opened the soda fountain at the Green Corner Store on South Main to serve their Loblolly brand ice cream, it signaled another step in the progress of SoMa neighborhood's revitalization.

The Root: a South Main anchor

The restaurant taps into local demand.

Travis McConnell runs the Capital bar while prepping Butcher & Public

The creator of the Capital Hotel's bacon program returns home to open his own place.

Counting our chickens with Gus's in Little Rock

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken is a sure bet for next year.

Best Restaurants of Arkansas 2013

Each year, when it comes time to plan our annual Readers Choice Restaurant issue, we survey the winners, start riffing on what readers got right or wrong and then pretty quickly get too hungry to concentrate and disperse to chow down. We tried to capture that approach in this edition.

John Beachboard helps Big Orange, Local Lime and ZAZA grow from within

He grooms employees for eatery empire.

Jonathan Wilkins, the king of bar food

He does it all at White Water.

Greenhouse Grille gets it

The opening of the Fayetteville's Greenhouse Grille was one of those rare instances in the restaurant business in which inspiration met pent-up demand and an institution was born.

Arkansas Fresh Bakery: the best bread you never knew you'd had

Ashton Woodward makes artful, delicious bread in relative anonymity

Delay delay delay: Prospects looking bleaker for expansion

Today’s chances of passing expansion: 35%.

Delita Martin at Boswell-Mourot

Artist's talk is at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Cirque du Soleil 'Quidam' at Verizon

Also, 'Sons of the Prophet' at Nadine Baum Studios in Fayetteville, Shinyribs and Kevin Kerby at White Water, Wayne Hancock and Bonnie Montgomery at Maxine's, "Relive your Prom" at Robinson and Ken Stringfellow at Stickyz.

Saluting the 2013 Arkansas Republican Legislature

The voter I.D. law: Pure GOP meanness

You can make a case for passing unconstitutional laws when the sponsors and supporters are driven by moral zealotry, even when it is misplaced, but what can you say for simple meanness?

Throw dunks, not tantrums

"You would think the news of constructive discussions between [the Department of Human Services] and Legislative Audit staff would please the chairman rather than illicit a tantrum."

Putting the genie back in the bottle

As they came into their leadership roles following the 2012 elections, the moderate, young GOP leaders of the House and Senate emphasized that they expected the current legislative session to be focused on the bread-and-butter issues of economic development, tax policy and Medicaid. In short, they indicated that they wanted to be Republican versions of Mike Beebe, a governor whom House Speaker Davy Carter regularly holds up as the best in the state's history.

The B.S. Approach

Laundry for the Apocalypse at The Joint

Bill and Kate Isles come to St. Michael's Episcopal Church.

Bielema hits the right notes

Bret Bielema's goodwill tour through the state of Arkansas has been a customarily fleet and spectacularly engaging one, and even though Pearls doesn't want to harp on the distinctions between the new lead Hog and his predecessors, it's an impossible one to simply ignore.

Light fingers in Little Rock

If you've looked at the daily newspaper lately, you've undoubtedly seen the gray cinderblock of tiny text that proves one of the major growth industries in the city of Little Rock these days is jacking other people's stuff.

Adios, Bob

If you look in the back of the Arkansas Times this week, you'll notice something missing: The Observer's pal and spiritual Yoda, the great Bob Lancaster, retired from writing his weekly column a couple of weeks ago, which means he has retired from journalism and a career that stretched all the way back to the reign of Orval Faubus, who once hated Bob so much for something he'd written that Faubus personally saw to it that he was fired as editor of his college newspaper. We'd call that a badge of honor.

'John Dies' might be bad-good, or maybe just bad

...but gets an 'A' for futuristic distribution.

Houses of worship in Arkansas deal with lifted gun ban

On Feb. 11, Gov. Mike Beebe signed a bill into law that alters the exemption in the concealed carry handgun statute that had prohibited permit holders from carrying their guns into houses of worship. Called "The Church Protection Act," the new addendum to the law says that church officials may now determine for themselves who can carry a concealed handgun into their place of worship. An emergency clause attached to the bill made the new law go into effect immediately after it was signed.

In over his head

No job is so small that it's not too big for somebody. Political scientists had thought it virtually impossible for any occupant to embarrass the office of lieutenant governor, the office itself being something of an embarrassment, serving no real purpose.

A.W. Lin's hits all the marks

Offers upscale pan-Asian at Promenade at Chenal.

It was a good week for grandstanding by the lieutenant governor

Also, for the use of school gun scans, Mike Beebe and Asa Hutchinson and those who don't believe guns solve all the world's problems. It was a bad week for women's reproductive rights and common sense and responding to a Craigslist advertisement.

The media's dangerous obsession with the center

With many Americans alternately bored and infuriated by the latest made-for-TV fiscal melodrama in Washington, something highly unusual happened. A prominent, name-brand pundit published a column about the "sequestration" battle that was not merely smug, lazy and condescending, but factually false.

Voter ID disenfranchises elderly

As an older Arkansan, I'm very concerned about the bill SB 2 requiring all voters to present a photo ID before they are allowed to vote. I'm concerned for the friends that I take to the polls because they no longer drive and don't have a driver's license or a current photo ID from a job. I'm equally concerned about people with disabilities who may never have had a driver's license or photo ID from a job, or who may no longer have either due to a catastrophic accident or major health issue.

It's time for the Musicians Showcase finals

Sound of the Mountain wins Round 5.

Back in town

Gov. Mike Beebe speaks to reporters Tuesday. Beebe had harsh words for Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, who signed legislation exempting the concealed-carry permit list from the state Freedom of Information Act as acting governor last week while Beebe was out of town.

He's offended?

While the Senate was approving a Republican bill to discourage voting by non-Republicans (minorities, the poor, the elderly), Sen. Alan Clark, R-Lonsdale, was irked that Democratic opponents spoke frankly of the bill's objectives.

Drone policy indefensible

We have probably talked and heard more about the Academy Award nominations and winners this month than whether it is right or makes sense for a nation supposedly dedicated to life and civil liberty to be killing its citizens for taking unpopular stances in foreign countries. What does that say about our devotion to life and liberty? What does it say about our ethics?

County officials blindsided by Lake Maumelle watershed amendment

The amendment that stalls the Maumelle Watershed zoning ordinance is "really just trying to kill the land-use regulations in the watershed," according to Pulaski Count Judge Buddy Villines.

Thursday-Sunday To-Do: Cirque du Soleil's 'Quidam'

Cirque du Soleil's "Quidam" is at Verizon Arena this week.

UPDATED WITH HHS RESPONSE Is new Arkansas Medicaid expansion deal legal?

Here's a simple question that's been nagging me about the Medicaid deal: Under what statutory authority are the feds subsidizing folks between 0 and 100 percent of the federal poverty level on the exchange?

Senate overrides Beebe veto of abortion ban

The Arkansas Senate voted this morning Gov. Mike Beebe's veto of a measure that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks. It now becomes law, but for how long?

Thursday-Sunday To-Do: 'Sons of the Prophet'

"Sons of the Prophet" is at the Walton Arts Center's Nadine Baum Studios through Sunday.

Medicaid "Private Option" deal costs more, still good deal for state

Make sure to read yesterday's post (which was updated several times last night) for a detailed explanation of the state's new option for Medicaid expansion.

Thursday: Daisy Gaston Bates panel discussion, Laundry for the Apocalypse and more

Central High hosts a special event about the legacy of Daisy Bates Thursday.

Friday To-Do: Shinyribs, Kevin Kerby

Kevin Russell's Shinyribs plays White Water Tavern Friday.

Former LRPD cop Josh Hastings pleads not guilty

Josh Hastings, the former Little Rock Police Department officer who was charged with manslaughter in January in the August 2012 shooting death of a 15-year-old boy during a burglary call at a West Little Rock apartment complex, plead not guilty to the charge today.

Ark. GOP congressmen vote against protecting abused women

Arkansas's congressional delegation was nowhere to be found among the 87 House Republicans who joined 199 Democrats today to pass the Senate's bipartisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The measures reauthorizes a 1994 law that provides support for organizations that serve domestic and sexual violence victims.

Friday: American Boychoir, Bill and Kate Isles, Arkansas Chamber Singers and more

Bill and Kate Isles perform at St. Michael's Episcopal Church Friday evening.

Salvage firm says teardowns are for private school

Southern Accents, the salvage company that is dismantling two historic houses on Cantrell Road that will be demolished, has published an article in its newsletter titled "Salvage Adventure in Arkansas."

John Hiatt & The Combo to Juanita's

John Hiatt plays Juanita's Aug. 28.

Disturbance, arrest, after former LRPD officer Josh Hastings spat on in courthouse

Trouble at the Pulaski County Courthouse this morning, with a group of people in the hallway outside the 5th Division Courtroom becoming loud, followed by a woman spitting on former LRPD officer Josh Hastings as he was being led from the courtroom.

'Wicked' kicks off 2013-2014 season for Celebrity Attractions

"Wicked" returns to Little Rock Sept. 25-Oct. 6.

The Thursday line

Davy Carter's voodoo math, Justin Harris thinks the Deaf School has enough money, the Club for Growth targets Pryor, Obama supports Prop 8 and Gawker exposes the hypocrisy of the NRA.

Federal suit by former PuCo coroner Garland Camper dismissed

A judge has dismissed the federal discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuit filed last year by former Pulaski County Coroner Garland Camper.

"Women to Watch," in Pine Bluff

Work by five textile artists are this year's NMWA winners.

Support for Medicaid expansion from House Democrats, public

This kind of got lost in the shuffle but I suppose it's worth noting that the House Democratic Caucus gave a strong endorsement to Medicaid expansion, or whatever we're calling it now, in a press conference at the Capitol yesterday.

Shooting at Park Plaza

KARK-TV is reporting that two people have been shot at Park Plaza Mall. The station expects to report more later; nothing yet posted on the website.

Metroplan releases video on light rail study

Metroplan has released a new video detailing their vision for a light-rail line between West Little Rock and the airport, following the path of I-630.

Saturday To-Do: Wayne Hancock, Bonnie Montgomery

Wayne Hancock plays at Maxine's Saturday.

Saturday To-Do: "Relive Your Prom"

Wanna "Relive Your Prom" this weekend? Here's your chance.

Tonight: Criswell, Ashley, Summerhill, etc.

Taylor's Contemporanea, Justus Fine Art, Blue Moon Gallery lineup.

Food Feedback Friday: The week that food was king

What a time to have a love affair with food! Check out all the wonderful things happening in Arkansas and share your thoughts on Food Feedback Friday.

Lyon College announces tuition and fees freeze

The private college blames, in part, changes in the lottery scholarship.

Davis named interim chief for NLRPD

North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith announced yesterday that Assistant Chief of Police Mike Davis will become the interim chief of North Little Rock Police Department, effective Saturday.

Suspects in Park Plaza shooting identified (corrected)

The two suspects arrested last night's murder of one Park Plaza Mall restaurant worker and the wounding of another have been identified by the Little Rock Police Department.

Here's a slideshow from Cirque du Soleil's 'Quidam' at Verizon Arena

Cirque du Soleil's "Quidam" is at Verizon Arena this weekend.

Saturday: Smittle Band, Interstate Buffalo and more

The Smittle Band plays at The Afterthought Saturday.

Sunday To-Do: Ken Stringfellow

Ken Stringfellow performs at Stickyz Sunday night.

Beebe appoints Reynie Rutledge to UA Board

Gov. Mike Beebe has appointed Reynie Rutledge, chairman and CEO of First Security Bank, to the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees.

Will Medicaid expansion "private option" win Republican support?

There's a lot to digest in the new Medicaid "private option" deal, and we've looked at the fiscal and legal implications.

"Yosemite" opens tonight

Don't forget: Gallery 360 opens "Yosemite: Images From the Past" tonight, photographs made from glass slides made in the early 1920s in the park.

House Speaker attempts to tie capital gains tax cut with Medicaid expansion

House Speaker Davy Carter has been sending signals that he is likely to support Medicaid expansion under the new "private option" deal.

Medicaid "private option" has expand-o-meter heating up

Today’s chances of passing expansion: 65%Last week’s chances: 37%See here for previous entries on the Expand-o-Meter

Here's a new video for Epiphany's 'Zone Out'

Epiphany just released a new video for "Zone Out."

Big Cats get props in Uncut; release video for 'Don't Go'

The latest Big Cats album got a great review in Uncut.

Here is Midtown's 'Harlem Shake' video

Here's Midtown's "Harlem Shake" video.

The Times Showcase finals are tonight!

That's right folks. Tonight at Revolution starting at 9 p.m., it's the 2013 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase finals.

UAMS-St. Vincent study is in, only partly public

An affiliation between St. Vincent Health System and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences could produce "synergies" — Deloitte Consulting's word for savings — of between $38 million and $63 million at the end of three years, according to a study commissioned by St. Vincent and UAMS.

The Bad Sports Metaphor Edition

The "game-changing" Medicaid expansion news, a "final drive" for abortion bans and "third quarter" tax cuts — all covered on this week's edition.

Friday line

Talk, talk.

Here come the tax cuts for the rich

Rep. Charlie Collins introduces two bills.

Entergy files rate case — a reduction

Since it's mid-afternoon in New Zealand and evening in Arkansas, I'll pass along quickly this e-mail note from Entergy on a rate case filed today at the Arkansas Public Service Commission.

Rapert taps mind of God

Sen. Jason "fetuses are the key to my political success" Rapert tweeted to Amy Bradley-Hole the following:

Charlie Collins' plan to make the rich much richer

Sorry. Some idle time for me this afternoon after touring Napier, New Zealand, an Art Deco treasure because the entire town was rebuilt in that style after a devastating earthquake and fire in 1931.

The Sound of the Mountain wins 2013 AT Musicians Showcase

The Sound of the Mountain won the 2013 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase, last night at Revolution.

Sims simply can't be beat

Barbecue worth bragging about.

Saturday night line

Talk amongst yourselves.

Brother's Keeper Morning Line

I’ll have a detailed post later in the week about what the new Arkansas Medicaid expansion alternative means for the quality of care that folks in the expansion pool will receive, but thought I’d quickly note a point raised by Rep. John Burris on Twitter.

Bell hints at legislative response to license plate scanner

The LRPD is using a license plate scanner, which captures license plate and GPS data. Rep. Nate Bell isn't happy about it.

They're running

At the Little Rock Marathon.

Giggles on the copy desk

Surely the headline in this morning's Dem-Gaz, "Cotton shrinks in state" was intentional, dreamed up by a bored copy editor.

Sunday line


Ethics "reform" — Arkansas Republican style

Max erupting from a volcanic atoll on the South Island of New Zealand:] E-mail arrives from Sen. David Sanders, touting a couple of pieces of so-called ethics legislation.

White House budgeting goes the Walmart way

One last note before happy hour: An e-mail from Walmart corporate communications on President Obama's nomination of Walmart Foundation President Sylvia Mathews Burwell to be Director of the Office of Management and Budget “We congratulate Sylvia on her nomination by President Obama to be director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Republicans take offense at Walker's comments on race

On Friday, Rep. John Walker took to the House well to speak in favor of a resolution to honor Teen Jeopardy winner (and Arkansas Times favorite) Leonard Cooper, sponsored by Rep. Warwick Sabin.

LRSD "meet and greet" with Milton

Little Rock School District superintendent candidate Dr. Walter Milton will take part in a "meet and greet" at 12:30 p.m. today in the district administration building at 810 W. Markham St.

Art history symposium at UALR

The 23rd annual Arkansas College Art Symposium, to be held Thursday and Friday this week at UALR, has much to recommend it.

Hog farm on Big Creek

Defenders of the Buffalo River are up in arms over a permit that the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality has issued to C&H Hog Farm, under construction on a tributary of Big Creek, which feeds into the Buffalo.

Westerman's spending cap bill passed over again

It's a pernicious budget strangler.

Beebe vetoes 12-week abortion ban

As expected, Gov. Beebe has vetoed Sen. Jason Rapert's unconstitutional 12-week abortion ban. His veto letter: In short, because it would impose a ban on a woman's right to choose an elective, nontherapeutic abortion well before viability, Senate Bill 134 blatantly contradicts the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court.

The Buffett-Hussman lovefest open line

Open line.

UAMS releases rest of Deloitte report

Last week, UAMS released some 75 pages from the Deloitte Consulting report it and St. Vincent Infirmary commissioned on ways to affiliate.

Food news roundup: Cool Ranch edition

Welcome back to another edition of "Food News Roundup," where I occasionally try to link to some of the good stuff happening around the state.

Republican lawmakers inch toward endorsement of expansion

For better or worse, Republicans have been enthusiastically embracing the new "private option" approach as an alternative to Medicaid expansion.

Insurance premium tax could net state extra $20 million per year under "private option"

Republican legislators have been busy sorting out the particulars of the "private option" alternative to Medicaid expansion and they've also been generally singing its praises.

The Highway Department raid on general revenue

The House Public Transportation committee will take up a bill today that hasn't gotten much attention, but particularly paired with the proposed tax cuts and spending cap, it could spell disaster for essential state programs.

Storm debris pickup: Slow going

The city of Little Rock has put a link on its website to storm debris clean-up by ward.

Rock 'N Tacos and Tamales now open in the Market Place Shopping Center

Little Rock's latest Mexican joint offers respectable Baja style fare, in a fast and casual environment. They've got some room for improvement, but there's potential here.

Minimum wage hike fails in committee

Butch Wilkins' bill to raise the minimum wage from $6.25 an hour to $8.25, HB1402, failed in the House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee.

New state logo

Numerous people have e-mailed asking us to post the new state logo that has been posted on the Internet.

Arkansas Senate overrides Beebe's veto of Rapert's abortion ban

The vote was 20-14. Now it goes to the House.

Westerman "Starve the Beast" bill fails

Rep. Bruce Westerman plans to run his bill to limit general revenue spending on the House floor today after it was passed over last Friday and again yesterday.

UAMS' Rahn: report suggests "real financial opportunity"

UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn says Deloitte Consulting's estimate that UAMS and St. Vincent could see savings between $38 million and $63 million by affiliating presents a "real financial opportunity here."

Little Rock Horror Picture Show announces films

The blood and guts behind the Little Rock Horror Picture Show released their slab of out-of-state films today, with the second-annual festival opening with "Film Formerly Known as Saturday Morning Massacre."

Arkansas Repertory Theatre announces 2013-2014 season

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre unveiled its new season lineup yesterday.

If Arkansas goes for "private option," why would Medicaid need more means testing?

When Republican lawmakers are out trumpeting the new alternative to Medicaid expansion, they're always quick to note that they want changes to the existing Medicaid program too.

Open line

Open line

Matt McLeod goes to pieces for Thea

Matt McLeod is the featured artist for the 2nd annual Thea Arts Festival coming up in April in Argenta.