And no, we aren’t talking about people who love Chick-fil-A. Rather, it’s all about the best things served in which a chip, piece of bread or bare finger may be dipped. When it comes to the good stuff, here’s where you need to go.
*Samantha’s Tap Room and Wood Grill: Main Street’s newest hot spot actually has two of my favorite dips in town. First up is the Surf and Turf Queso, a cast iron skillet full of luscious cheese dip loaded with chunks of mesquite-grilled steak and shrimp. It’s one of the pricier appetizers on the menu, but the portion is good — and the flavor is excellent. Not in the mood for classic cheese dip? Go for the Parmesan Salsa, a unique blend of nutty Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and red pepper served with bread. Both of these are so good you’ll be tempted to lick the bowl like it’s mama’s chocolate cake batter.
*Big Orange: Big orange also has two excellent and very different dip choices. The first is their version of cheese dip, which is flavorful and served with a portion big enough for four people. For a healthier option, though, go for the Hummus and Tzatziki, because this may be a burger joint, but dipping your carrots and celery into this silky hummus will make you think you’re in the Mediterranean.
*Ali Baba: Speaking of hummus, one of the best versions around is down at Ali Baba (across from UALR). A large plate of velvety hummus dotted with whole chickpeas and doused with a healthy splash of pungent olive oil hits the spot perfectly — especially when eaten with a large supply of warm house-made pita.
*Dizzy’s Gypsy Bistro: World Cheese Dip champions, Dizzy’s dip needs no introduction. Melted cheese, fresh pico de gallo, and a dollop of sour cream — it’s a lot of flavors and they all work together. Most notable (apart from the delicious flavor) is the portion size, which is mammoth. And they’ll always bring you more chips if needed.
*Capers Restaurant: Want a break from the typical white or yellow queso? Head to Capers and order the House Chips with Blue Cheese Fondue and experience bliss. Instead of the usual corn chips, Capers serves up some tasty crisp house-made potato chips, and the sharp, creamy blue cheese fondue makes a decadent dip for a type of chip that is much underrated when it comes to dunking.
*Layla’s: We’ve talked about hummus a couple of times already, so while Layla’s has an excellent version, it’s the Baba Ghanouj that shouldn’t be missed. Seasoned eggplant puree redolent of tahini and lemon makes for a perfect start to a meal — or a perfect light lunch just by itself.
*Baja Grill: For white queso, there’s no better version that the Heights Mexi-Cali taco and burrito joint. Thick, spicy and loaded with good cheese flavor, this dip comes with a side of some of the lightest, crispiest tortilla chips in town. For me, Baja Grill serves the gold standard white queso.
Of course this list doesn’t cover all the bases — I didn’t even touch spinach-artichoke dip. Let me know which dips are your favorite down there in the comments.