Thirty-three years: It’s got to be some kind of record. That is the number of years that readers of the Arkansas Times have weighed in — sometimes a few pounds heavier after a delicious meal — on the best places to dine, sup, chow down, grab a bite, nibble, whatever, in Arkansas.

A restaurant called The Hive is giving everyone an itch to get to Bentonville and experience the 21c Museum Hotel’s fine dining amid fascinatingly curious artwork. South on Main is getting rave reviews from the readership, proving that the Oxford American magazine’s notion to back good Southern eating as well as good Southern writing was a super idea. The chefs behind both, along with other products of the Capital Hotel kitchen, are profiled in one of our accompanying stories. Elsewhere, look for features on chicken and waffles in Central Arkansas, restaurants worth driving to Benton for (yes, you read that right), waitress extraordinaire Joann Sims, meat savant Rob Nelson of Bentonville’s Tusk and Trotter and the continuing evolution of Southern Gourmasian. Fair warning: You’re going to have a hard time reading on an empty stomach.



Little Rock: The Pantry


Runners-up: South on Main, Brave New Restaurant, Trio’s

Around the state: The Hive (Bentonville)


Runners-up: ZaZa (Conway), Mike’s Place (Conway), James at the Mill (Johnson)


Little Rock: South on Main

Runners-up: Bruno’s Little Italy, Table 28, Big Orange Midtown


Around the state: The Hive (Bentonville)

Runners-up: Tusk and Trotter (Bentonville), Umami Sushi and Grill Fusion (Conway), Table Mesa Bistro (Conway)


Little Rock: Matthew Bell (South on Main)

Runners-up: Anthony Talley (Terry’s Restaurant), Peter Brave (Brave New Restaurant), Scott McGehee (ZaZa, Local Lime, Big Orange)

Around Arkansas: Matthew McClure (The Hive)

Runners-up: Mark Cook (Gaskins Cabin Steakhouse), Jerrmy Gawthrop (Greenhouse Grille)


Little Rock: Joann Sims (Cache)


Runners-up: Scott Roberts (Brave New Restaurant), Wayne Pyland (Trio’s Restaurant), Aimee Stockton (Dizzy’s Gypsy Bistro)

Around the state: Brent Garrett (Gaskins Cabin Steakhouse, Eureka Springs)


Little Rock: Community Bakery

Runners-up: Boulevard Bread Co., Rosalia’s Family Bakery, Dempsey Bakery

Around the state: SugarBelles Cupcakes (Ward)

Runners-up: Ed’s Custom Bakery (Conway), Rick’s Bakery (Fayetteville), Arkansas Fresh Bakery (Saline County)


Little Rock: Whole Hog Cafe

Runners-up: Sims Bar-B-Que, Corky’s BBQ, HB’s BBQ

Around the state: McClard’s Bar-B-Q Restaurant (Hot Springs)

Runners-up: Craig’s Bar-B-Q (DeValls Bluff), Jones Bar-B-Q Diner (Marianna), Whole Hog Cafe (Conway)


Little Rock: The Root Cafe

Runners-up: Ozark Country Restaurant, B-Side, Red Door Restaurant

Around the state: Mud Street Cafe (Eureka Springs)

Runners-up: Stoby’s Restaurant (Conway), The Pancake Shop (Hot Springs), The Hive (Bentonville)


Little Rock: Trio’s

Runners-up: YaYa’s, The Root Cafe, Red Door Restaurant

Around the state: The Hive (Bentonville)

Runners-up: Tusk and Trotter (Bentonville), Mud Street Cafe (Eureka Springs), Local Flavor Cafe (Eureka Springs)


Little Rock: Franke’s Cafeteria

Runners-up: Tokyo House, Star of India Restaurant, Panda Garden Restaurant

Around the state: Brown’s Country Store & Restaurant (Benton)

Runners-up: Buffet City (Benton), Who Dat’s Cajun Restaurant (Bald Knob)

Business lunch

Little Rock: Capital Bar & Grill

Runners-up: South on Main, Copper Grill, Trio’s Restaurant

Around Arkansas: Mike’s Place (Conway)

Runners-up: The Hive (Bentonville), Fayrays (El Dorado)


Little Rock: Flying Fish

Runners-up: Lassis Inn, South on Main, Cock of the Walk

Around Arkansas: Eat My Catfish (Benton)

Runners-up: Flying Fish (Bentonville), Catfish Hole (Fayetteville), Fred’s Fish House (Mammoth Spring)


Little Rock: Fantastic China

Runners-up: Mr. Chen’s Authentic Chinese Cooking, Chi’s Authentic Chinese Cuisine, Fu Lin Chinese Restaurant

Around Arkansas: Jade China (Conway)

Runners-up: Grand Fortuna (Harrison), Fu Lin Chinese Restaurant (Conway)


Little Rock: Boulevard Bread Co.

Runners-up: Starbucks, River City Coffee, Mylo Coffee Co.

Around the state: Onyx Coffee Lab (Fayetteville)

Runners-up: Common Grounds (Fayetteville), Mud Street Cafe (Eureka Springs), Arsaga’s (Fayetteville)

Deli/gourmet to go

Little Rock: Hillcrest Artisan Meats

Runners-up: Boulevard Bread Co., Jason’s Deli, Bray Gourmet

Around the state: Cafe 1217 (Hot Springs)

Runners-up: Stone Mill Bread Co. (Fayetteville), Coursey’s Smoked Meats (St. Joe)


Little Rock: Trio’s Restaurant

Runners-up: South on Main, Big Orange, Natchez

Around the state: Charlotte’s Eats and Sweets (Keo)

Runners-up: Nom Noms Mexican Grill-N-Chill (Hot Springs), Gaskins Cabin Steakhouse (Eureka Springs), The Hive (Bentonville)

Food truck

Little Rock: Southern Gourmasian

Runners-up: Waffle Wagon, kBird, Taqueria Samantha II

Around the state: Baja Grill (Benton)

Runners-up: Crepes Paulette (Bentonville), Big Rub BBQ (Bentonville), Green Cart Deli (Conway)

Fried chicken

Little Rock: Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken

Runners-up: South on Main, Stickyz Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicken Shack, Bobby’s Country Cookin’

Around the state: Monte Ne Inn (Rogers)

Runners-up: Holly’s Country Cooking (Conway), AQ Chicken (Springdale), Venesian Inn (Tontiown)


Little Rock: Big Orange

Runners-up: Playtime Pizza, South on Main, Local Lime

Around the state: The Hive (Bentonville)

Runners-up: Mike’s Place (Conway), Jose’s (Fayetteville), Pesto Cafe (Fayetteville)

Gluten free

Little Rock: Dempsey Bakery

Runners-up: Izzy’s, Cafe Bossa Nova, Big Orange

Around the state: ZaZa (Conway)


Little Rock: Big Orange

Runners-up: David’s, The Root, Arkansas Burger Co.

Around the state: David’s (Conway)

Runners-up: Hugo’s (Fayetteville), Whattaburger (Russellville), CJ’s Butcher Boy Burgers (Russellville)

Home cookin’

Little Rock: Homer’s Restaurant

Runners-up: Bobby’s Country Cookin’, South on Main, Your Mama’s Good Food

Around the state: Holly’s Country Cooking (Conway)

Runners-up: Momma Dean’s Soul Food Kitchen (Fayetteville), Hole in the Wall (Conway), Ed and Kay’s (Benton)


Little Rock: Star of India Restaurant

Runners-up: Banana Leaf food truck, Taj Mahal

Around the state: Tandoori Chicken and Fish House (Plumerville)

RUNNERS-UP: New Delhi Cafe (Eureka Springs), Indian Orchard (Rogers)


Little Rock: Bruno’s Little Italy

Runners-up: Ristorante Capeo, Vesuvio Bistro, Bravo!

Around the state: Ermilio’s Italian Home Cooking (Eureka Springs)

RUNNERS-UP: Bordinos (Fayetteville), Pasta Grill (Conway)


Little Rock: Sushi Cafe

Runners-up: Sky Modern Japanese Restaurant, Mt. Fuji Japanese Restaurant, Hanaroo Sushi Bar

Around the state: Umami Sushi and Grill Fusion (Conway)

Runners-up: Meiji Japanese Cuisine (Fayetteville), Osaka (Hot Springs)


Little Rock: Local Lime

Runners-up: Cantina Laredo, Senor Tequila, La Hacienda

Around the state: Taco Mama (Hot Springs)

Runners-up: Table Mesa Bistro (Bentonville), Jose’s (Hot Springs), Baja Grill (Benton)

Other ethnic

Little Rock: Layla’s Gyros and Pizzeria

Runners-up: Cafe Bossa Nova, Pho Thanh My, The Pantry

Around the state: Layla’s Gyros and Pizzeria (Conway)

Runners-up: Taste of Thai (Fayetteville), Rolando’s Restaurante (Hot Springs), Pho Vietnam Restaurant (Fort Smith)


Little Rock: Damgoode Pies

Runners-up: ZaZa, U.S. Pizza Co., Vino’s Brewpub

Around the state: ZaZa (Conway)

Runners-up: Damgoode Pies (Fayetteville), Rocky’s Corner (Hot Springs), Tommy’s Famous (Mountain View)

Place for kids

Little Rock: Playtime Pizza

Runners-up: All Aboard Restaurant and Grill, Purple Cow, Big Orange-Midtown

Around the state: Purple Cow Restaurant (Hot Springs)


Little Rock: Ashley’s

Runners-up: South on Main, Vesuvio Bistro, Ristorante Capeo

Around the state: James at the Mill (Johnson)

Runners-up: The Hive (Bentonville), Red Apple Inn (Heber Springs), Ermilio’s Italian Home Cooking (Eureka Springs)


Little Rock: Brave New Restaurant

Runners-up: Flying Fish, Cajun’s Wharf, Bonefish Grill

Around the state: Mike’s Place (Conway)

Runners-up: Fisherman’s Wharf (Hot Springs), Powerhouse Seafood and Grill (Fayetteville)


Little Rock: Sonny William’s Steak House

Runners-up: Doe’s Eat Place, South on Main, Arthur’s Prime Steakhouse

Around the state: Gaskins Cabin Steakhouse (Eureka Springs)

Runners-up: Mike’s Place (Conway), The Hive (Bentonville), The Porterhouse (Hot Springs)


Little Rock: Root Cafe

Runners-up: Cafe Bossa Nova, Boulevard Bread Co., Banana Leaf Indian Cuisine

Around the state: ZaZa (Conway)

Runners-up: Greenhouse Grille (Fayetteville), Autumn Breeze Restaurant (Eureka Springs)

Wine list

Little Rock: Ashley’s

Runners-up: Brave New Restaurant, Ciao Baci, Trio’s Restaurant

Around the state: The Hive (Bentonville)

Runners-up: Bordinos (Fayetteville), Gaskins Cabin Steakhouse (Eureka Springs)


Little Rock: Red Mango

Runners-up: Orange Leaf, TCBY, Yogurt Mountain

Around the state: Freddo’s Frozen Treats (Russellville)

Best restaurants in areas around the state


Baja Grill

Runners-up: Eat My Catfish, Ed and Kay’s, Pasta Jack’s



Runners-up: Mike’s Place, Stoby’s, Table Mesa Bistro

Eureka Springs:

Ermilio’s Italian Home Cooking

Runners-up: Local Flavor Cafe, Gaskins Cabin Steakhouse, DeVito’s Restaurant

Northwest Arkansas:

The Hive (Bentonville)

Runners-up: Tusk and Trotter (Bentonville), James at the Mill (Johnson), Bordinos (Fayetteville)

Hot Springs:

Rolando’s Restaurante

Runners-up: Taco Mama, McClard’s Bar-B-Q Restaurant, Central Park Fusion Cuisine