A Native’s Information to What’s New in Little Rock, Arkansas – Backyard & Gun
At any time when I contact down in my hometown of Little Rock, I do know that irrespective of how late my flight arrives, my mom may have my favourite meals ready on the kitchen counter: a bowl of cheese dip from our go-to lunch spot, Izzy’s. The melty, creamy goodness tastes like residence; Little Rock’s love affair with cheese dip is simply one of many charming quirks of Arkansas’s capital metropolis.
With a inhabitants of 200,000, Little Rock looks like a small city. Locals are very happy to share intel on can’t-miss spots. Companies like to inventory merchandise from different Little Rock companies. There’s a surprisingly numerous restaurant scene, and an important hike or bike journey is rarely far-off. On my most up-to-date go to, I texted family and friends to get the lowdown on what’s taking place on the town. Listed below are the issues—some previous however largely new—that Little Rock is buzzing about.
Meals and Drink
After I’m on the town, I attempt to cycle by my favourite spots: Lindsey’s, positioned a jump over into North Little Rock and serving saucy, melt-in-your-mouth barbecue since 1956 (you’ll seemingly give your order to proprietor Donnie Lindsey or his spouse Eleanor on the counter); Arthur’s for the most effective steak and special-occasion atmosphere, the brainchild of Little Rock meals scene fixture Jerry Barakat (who did the meals at my dad and mom’ wedding ceremony); Star of India, the state’s first Indian restaurant, run by larger-than-life character Sami Lal, who is aware of his clients by identify and at all times brings me a mango lassi; Trio’s, the place consuming the Peck Salad for lunch justifies ordering one in all their beloved seasonal desserts (the strawberry shortcake is an annual hit).
However my first cease this time is at George’s, which opened in August on Kavanaugh, the principle thoroughfare of the previous, character-filled neighborhood known as the Heights. Mary Olive Stephens, who owns George’s alongside along with her husband, John, greets me on the door to this one-time residence. The couple—each Little Rock natives—drew on inspiration from their time in New York and London to create an idea that’s cozy sufficient to be a neighborhood hangout and chic sufficient to benefit an event. It serves traditional Italian fare (strive the meatball and pull-apart focaccia; that’s what bought the Stephens on the manager chef, fellow Little Rockian Wes Mickel), however nonetheless attracts on Arkansas substances—there’s at all times Bistecca alla Arkansas on the menu, showcasing a rotating solid of beef from across the state.
And George’s has a enjoyable secret: The wall behind the hostess stand swings open to usher company down the corridor and into Barnaby, a moody, wallpaper-plastered speakeasy. Modernity solely enters on soccer sport days, when the large mirror behind the bar reveals itself to be a tv that performs Razorback video games. I drink a pepperberry fizz, with strawberry, lemon, prosecco, and vodka with a well-known identify—Rock City.
Rock City Distillery—by the way, began by the daddy of my high-school doubles associate in tennis—acquired a brand new residence a number of years in the past on the southern finish of Foremost Road (known as SoMa), the place along with cranking out award-winning vodkas and bourbons, there’s a full cocktail bar with creative drinks, like this one, plus excursions and tastings. If you could stroll—or eat—a tasting off, head up Foremost to browse outlets and pattern Honduran dishes like baleadas and arepas at El Sur, a well-liked meals truck turned brick-and-mortar in 2022. Bread Cheese Wine opened a few month in the past shut by, and I’m advised to not miss the lemon herb potatoes. Bonus: Additionally on Foremost, the Root Cafe and Loblolly Creamery aren’t new, however they’re two hands-down Little Rock favorites, for eclectic fare sourced from fifty-five Arkansas farms and producers and small-batch ice cream, respectively.
SoMa has lengthy been referred to as a cool drag—however a five-minute drive away, the previous warehouse industrial space dubbed East Village is making a run of its personal. I meet one in all my greatest mates at Misplaced Forty Brewing to pattern their award-winning Logger Rita Vienna Lager (plus their cast-iron, jalapeño-topped cheese dip as a result of, as a rule, I order cheese dip at any Little Rock restaurant that makes it). In 2021, the brewery opened Camp Taco throughout the car parking zone (Little Rock has a thriving Mexican meals scene). Down the street from Misplaced Forty sits Sterling Market, a former paint manufacturing unit. It seems like an upscale meals corridor however acts like a restaurant, serving sandwiches and salads starring Arkansas substances. Order the skillet cornbread for the desk and one thing candy from the bakery on the best way out.
What to See
My alma mater Little Rock Central Excessive Faculty, the positioning of pressured desegregation in 1957, is a must-see historical past cease. So is the Clinton Presidential Middle, which leads right into a stroll of the River Market, the centerpiece of Little Rock’s downtown. (In the event you want a snack, strive Dizzy’s for cheese dip or Flying Fish for a full meal.)
However latest on the town is the Arkansas Museum of Nice Arts, Little Rock’s reply to Northwest Arkansas’s Crystal Bridges. After closing in 2019 for $142 million in renovations, the museum reopened final spring. The architects at Studio Gang anchored the constructing round a light-soaked central atrium linking 133,000 sq. ft of exhibition, efficiency, and training areas with eleven acres of land and gardens. The attention-catching pleated roof catches rainfall and waters the gardens, and a “cultural lounge” with hovering glass partitions seems out over the town and the museum’s courtyard. This winter, the Whitefield Lovell:Passages exhibition showcases drawings by the up to date artist’s that had been impressed by pictures of unidentified African People taken between the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and the fifties and sixties civil rights motion.
I by no means miss an opportunity to go to Pinnacle Mountain State Park out in far West Little Rock—and anytime anybody comes to go to, I drag them as much as the height at dawn or sundown too. However as of late, I’m spoiled for selection on hikes. This previous summer time, Arkansas’s Nature Conservancy chapter opened the 459-acre Blue Mountain Pure Space, with eight miles of trails, together with Rattlesnake Ridge, residence to the southeastern bat, the western diamondback rattlesnake, and Wright’s cliffbrake, a desert fern. The pure space was the ultimate piece of 21,000 acres of undeveloped land, laced with trails that may ultimately hook up with Two Rivers Park (the place my dad taught me to drive and I floored it proper off the street).
Every time I’m going to Two Rivers Park now, I see increasingly more bikes, partly due to the truth that a current path connects the park to the Arkansas River Path. The ART is a favourite sixteen-mile loop on each side of the Arkansas River, anchored by the Clinton Bridge of the Presidential Library on one finish and the Huge Dam Bridge, the nation’s longest bridge for bicyclists and pedestrians on the different, and looping collectively the town in between.