How to eat Southern
3815 MacArthur Drive, North Little Rock; (501) 753-1012
You probably wouldn’t expect a meat-and-three order that’s $6.50 to be this hefty. But it is. A massive fried chicken breast served with country-style mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw or any of the other daily menu offerings is sure to fill even the emptiest of stomachs. But don’t just consider this place for lunch: No item on the highly raved-about breakfast menu is over $6. Pro tip: Bring cash, or else take a stroll to the ATM next door.
You’re getting: Fried chicken—and wishing you’d made it in time for a full stack of pancakes.
Jerky’s Spicy Chicken and More
521 Center St., Little Rock; (501) 246-3096
Sure, the flavors from this jerk-chicken joint borrow from an area so Southern that it reaches beyond the United States—but still, its techniques are presented in a way that’s both familiar and exciting to the American tongue (a fusion the restaurant has dubbed “Jamerican”). We’re talking sauce with the perfect blend of tang and spice atop some of the most succulent ribs and chicken around.
You’re getting: The two-piece chicken snack, and you’re debating the jerk-chicken tacos. Do it.
DownHome Restaurant & Catering
9219 Stagecoach Road, Little Rock; (501) 821-3344
Looking around at DownHome Restaurant’s vintage décor feels like coming home—thank goodness it tastes like it, too. Heaping servings of meatloaf, hamburger steak and lasagna take you back to weeknights at the dinner table or—even better—Sunday dinner. Just don’t tell mom this stuff comes close to hers.
You’re getting: Chicken spaghetti with macaroni and cheese and perfectly crisp fried okra.
Eat My Catfish
2125 Harkrider St., Conway; (501) 588-1867 | 1205 Military Road, Benton; (501) 909-2323
Listen, just consider the name an imperative—but don’t stop there. This Conway and Benton eatery, which got its start as a Benton food truck, offers more than just filling catfish fillets, crawfish, crab, shrimp and po’boys (though you shouldn’t hesitate to try them, too.) Whatever you do, don’t miss a taste of that signature tartar sauce.
You’re getting: The two-piece catfish dinner, though we wouldn’t judge you for upsizing.
4200 E. Kiehl Ave., Sherwood; (501) 864-7860
You’ll face mouthwatering options here. Lots of them. This buffet-style Sherwood barbecue spot allows you to stay the more traditional route with ribs, baked beans and potato salad. But why not throw in pasta and enchiladas for the heck of it? Drop in on a chance “Seafood Saturday,” and you might just walk out with a stomachful of crab legs.
You’re getting: Rib tips—lots of rib tips.
2001 E. Roosevelt Road, Little Rock; (501) 374-1400; | 9700 N. Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock; (501) 224-6637
In its own words, Homer’s specializes in “good eats.” And with said offerings vibrantly written on the wall-sized chalkboard, you won’t miss what it has to offer. Country-fried steak served daily. A catfish special in the middle of the week. Another catfish deal on Friday. Rolls the size of a breakfast muffin—plus the tried-and true-sides of pickled okra and pinto beans.
You’re getting: Cajun fried catfish on Wednesday, but you’ll probably be back for more come Friday.
Lindsey’s Hospitality House and Bar-B-Que
207 Curtis Sykes Drive, North Little Rock; (501) 374-5707
With the cashier sporting a welcoming grin while kindly referring to you as “Miss” or “Sir,” you’re paying for more than just good barbecue at Lindsey’s Hospitality House—though that certainly is the draw here. Bishop Donne Lee Lindsey Sr.’s North Little Rock barbecue-legacy-slash-banquet-hall uses its signature cookin’ to bring you around—and its specialty sauce to bring you back.
You’re getting: The smoked-chicken dinner (assuming you need a break from all things fried).
Ceci’s Chicken & Waffles
324 E. 13th St., North Little Rock; (501) 372-1121
Chances are the folks at Ceci’s Chicken & Waffles will be able to tell if it’s your first time at this easy-to-miss North Little Rock establishment. After all, that expression you’ll have in the presence of a fluffy waffle piled with fried chicken, powdered sugar, strawberries and whipped cream—or pecans and caramel—is just about guaranteed to give you away. And with more traditional eats such as pork chops, greens and yams, too, we’re sure that first visit won’t be your last.
You’re getting: A lovely sugar rush and sticky fingers.
Nick’s Bar-B-Q and Catfish
1012 Bobby L. Glover Highway, Carlisle; (870) 552-3887
Nick’s Bar-B-Q is pretty fond of pigs, as evidenced by the adorable, homey knickknacks around the restaurant. But those curly-tailed figurines are sure to be forgotten on the quick once the real thing—juicy, tender meat in rib or pulled form—reaches the table. This Carlisle mainstay serves the finest of other meats, too, including beef, chicken, shrimp, catfish and sausage.
You’re getting: The smoked sausage dinner and onion rings the size of an oversized bracelet.
The Oyster Bar
3003 W. Markham St., Little Rock; (501) 666-7100
You can’t quite experience a taste of the South without a mouthful or two of seafood. (And no, not just the catfish you can order anywhere in the state.) For a quick-and-easy bite of New Orleans’ famous sea-based sandwich, The Oyster Bar offers a variety of po’boys under $10.
You’re getting: A po’boy stuffed with shrimp. Or fried oysters. Or fried clams. Or fried crawfish tails.