A discussion sprang up a couple of weeks ago on a post about the history of our Readers Choice Awards, all about restaurants that have closed or changed. I still remember when the first restaurant I’d written about closed — it was the Layla’s location in Bryant, and I was devastated, but at least we still have Layla’s here in Little Rock (and Conway). Much worse was the day I pulled up with my brand new girlfriend to the Bohemia in Hot Springs to find the place shut down and dark. The place eventually reopened with a new chef and menu — and that new girlfriend wound up marrying me — but I’ll always miss Adolf Thum’s sauerbraten and steamed dumplings.
I normally structure these Friday Open Line posts as a list of five things, but I have so many good memories that I’m just going to post them all in no particular order. And if you want to add to the conversation, let us know about your memories in the comments. Or, if you’d rather talk about places that are still serving up delicious food, let’s talk about that too! It’s your foodie playground, do what you will.
*Poison Apple wants to remember Lou and Ann’s Li’l Cajun’s in Stuttgart. “It may have been the best restaurant I have ever eaten at in this state. Seriously. Lou died in 1998 and the place changed hands and was never the same,” says Poison Apple, adding “I promise if you ask folks who knew about good food in Arkansas back in the 90’s, they ate there at least once. Man, their food was great. There is not a seafood restaurant in Little Rock or anywhere else in Arkansas that comes close to preparing seafood as good as Lou and Ann’s and their steaks were to die for.” Luv2eat adds that “Lou and Ann were great people. My husband and I own The Faded Rose and they were great customers of ours. Anytime they were in town they would come in to eat and visit.” Great food from great people? Definitely a restaurant to be mourned.
*EY and Whit E. Knight want to remember Tapas here in Little Rock. According to EY, the place had a standout dish of “artichoke hearts that were so lightly fried you would almost damage the crust by looking at them. So you got a good bite of crunchy, then wonderful artichoke (and no fibery choke bits), then a slight salty taste, then you’d have to grab another.” Our resident chivalrous Knight adds, “the food was wonderful. My wife and I were regulars there. It was our first exposure to tapas, but far from our last.”
*Beer Guru Scott Parton says, “I miss the “old” Your Mama’s downtown. Before it moved, then closed.” Me too, Scott. Me, too.
*JohnQCitizen gives us a list of classic eateries that I’m sure are on a lot of people’s list: “The original Mexico Chiquito on Protho in North Little Rock. Roy Fisher’s Steakhouse and Sir Loin’s Inn, also in North Little Rock.” He also mentions Blue Mesa Grill and laments the changes that have come to Cajun’s Wharf over the years. North Little Rock’s Ferrell’s, Lion’s Share, and the original Granpa’s Catfish round out a list that had me sad I’d never tried most of these places.
*hugh mann brings up S.O.B.’s, a shrimp and oyster bar that hugh says had “great French Onion soup and the best hushpuppies I’ve ever had anywhere/anytime. They had a nice, light and crispy crust on the outside, and weren’t as dense as typical hushpuppies. Don’t know how they did it, but they were great.” Bob Edwards adds, “My friends and I loved that place. They had pool tables upstairs. It was a lot of fun.”
*hugh also reminisces about Mr. Gatti’s Pizza, which despite its tendency to cause “a hipster pizza burn on the gums right behind your top front teeth” still causes cravings due mostly to a unique soft crust. “I’d love some of that Mr. Gatti’s pizza now,” says hugh.
*And from Twitter, Brittney Lee mentions a restaurant that would be on my list: Coy’s Steakhouse in Hot Springs. For her, it’s the “warm saltines, homemade dressing, lamb chops [and] brick booths.” For me it’s the thick hand-cut steaks. Coy’s was the first place I ever ordered my steak “rare,” and my 16-year-old self never looked back.
Great memories, everyone. Here’s to many more years of making great food memories together — and here’s to the great places that aren’t around anymore but gave us so much joy. Get to talking down there, y’all.