I periodically get asked about my favorite things to eat and drink, and it’s actually a pretty difficult thing to answer. We try a lot of different things, and I tend to go through phases where I get obsessed with one type of food or restaurant and then a month later be onto to something completely different. There are a few things that seem to stay in constant favorite rotation, though, so while this isn’t a definitive list, it certainly sums up the things I’m digging on right now. Here’s the list in no particular order:
- French Press Coffee from Big Orange — As far as I’m aware, Big Orange is the only place in town where you can get French press coffee made with one of my favorite brands, Dazbog Organic Coffee. The brew is dark and rich with some nice fruity notes to it and low acidity. The stylish Bodum French presses that they use add a nice touch to the presentation as well. A small splash of half-and-half, and there’s nothing finer than this cup of coffee.
- The Cuban Taco from Baja Grill — I recently reviewed Baja Grill over at the Arkansas Times, and the Cuban Taco was the most delicious of all the wonderful things we tried from this Benton taco stand. Moist, tender shredded pork topped with a tangy slaw, chipotle aioli, and cool, creamy avocado all wrapped in a tasty double corn shell? Why, yes, please! I’ve been told by several readers that the mahi mahi taco is also something not to be missed, but my next visit to Baja Grill will be all about this Cuban — and I’m pretty sure they’ll make one into a burrito for you as well. You tend to eat at a lot of taco trucks in this business, and this truck was one of the nicest surprises I’ve had in some time, so I urge you to check them out and follow them on Facebook or Twitter for updates and specials.
- Ranier Cherries — These are pretty much the best fruit ever to exist. If theoretical physicists are to be believed, there could be many alternate dimensions that make up a wide and varied multiverse — and the Ranier cherry will reign supreme in each of them as the best tasting, most awesome thing to eat. We’re reaching the end of the cherry season this year, but you can still find Ranier cherries at several local grocery stores — and if you keep your eye out, you can sometimes get them for only a few dollars a pound. And around here, a pound of cherries lasts maybe a day.
- Chicken and Dumplings from The Southern Gourmasian — I’ve eaten so many of these tasty rice dumplings with grilled chicken, shitake mushrooms, and spicy ramen broth that Gourmasian owner Justin Patterson just calls them my “usual.” Chewy, savory, hot, and rich — this dish is pretty much perfection in a bowl. This is another place I reviewed for the Arkansas Times, and while the rest of the menu is incredible (especially the steamed buns), it’s these dumplings that I just can’t seem to get enough of. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter, or catch them at the University Market at 4 Corners weekdays and Hillcrest Farmers Market on Saturdays.
- The Green Corner Store Soda Fountain and Loblolly Creamery — Rachel and Sally of Loblolly Creamery are ice cream geniuses. Flavors like Roasted Peach, Fresh Fig, Salted Caramel, Honey Goat’s Milk, Buttermilk, and Cherry Chocolate have all been among the best ice creams I’ve ever had. They make a mean sorbet, too, with the Mango-Chili flavor pictured to the right being one of the sweetest, coldest, spiciest things I’ve ever had. In addition, they produce all their own syrups for old-fashioned sodas, and they’ve recently introduced black and green kombucha to their line of refreshments. Don’t pass up their homemade waffle cones and ice cream sammies, either!
Since most of the things here are unique to Little Rock, I hope it will inspire some of you to get out and explore the wonderful things around you. It’s been a hot, dry summer, and we’ve got to take our small pleasures whenever and wherever we can. Cheers!