When one of the top chefs in the state tells you where you should go eat, you don’t just blow him off. Where does someone who cooks all day, everyday, go for a brief respite from the heat of the stovetop? It’s probably going to be something remarkable in order for such space to occupy a special place in said chef’s heart. Such was the case with one of my more recent discoveries. I had the opportunity recently to pick the brain of South on Main superstar, Matt Bell, about the revitalization of the South Main area and some his favorite hidden gems and underrated restaurants in Little Rock. The name “K Hall and Sons” came up. I’d never ever heard of the place, but Bell swore it was one of his favorite burgers in the city. I am no stranger to burgers, I’ve eaten one or two in my lifetime. I was intrigued.
K Hall and Sons sits unassumingly along Wright Ave in the Dunbar Historic District. It’s a neighborhood that’s probably a little less traveled for most foodies around town. Many of the homes and buildings remain in a moderate state of disrepair. It’s an area a long ways off from the gentrified digs one might find a few miles away on Main Street. But I’ve been a fan of this stretch of road for sometime—from Wright to Asher to Colonel Glenn. It’s no secret that these parts house some of the most diverse menus alongside a plethora of solid stick-to-your-ribs home cooking.
K Hall and Sons functions as both as a small market and grocery store with a take-out restaurant within. Go during lunch and you’ll see swarms of folks lining up at the order counter to get their grubby hands on classic home style favorites.
Of course, I had to sample the bacon cheeseburger based on Bell’s recommendation. I was not disappointed—this burger is special. It’s easy to see why the guy holds it in such high esteem. It’s a no nonsense, no frills cheeseburger. They grind the beef in house. This fact is evident in the freshness and texture of the beef. This beef isn’t the sort of compact, previously frozen mess you’d find at other inferior burger establishments. It’s tender, flavorful, and almost crumbles when bitten into. It’s delightful. The fixins’ are standard but adequate. The cheese is nicely melted and wraps the hot beef like a velvety blanket, infiltrating each nook and cranny of the loosely packed beef patty. The bacon was nothing to scoff at either. Thick, crisp, and deliciously curled upon itself multiple times—it cracks and crumbles when bitten into.
There’s a handful of fried option on the menu that warrant your attention as well. I’m not sure if I’ve ever eaten a deep-fried pork chop before visiting K Hall. I mean, sure, I’ve had fried pork chops, but never eaten a battered and fried chop like they do here. The chop has a little more chew than what you’d get from fried chicken. It’s not a knife-and-fork deal either—this chop is handheld in its design. And sitting on a street corner, with a chop in one hand and a cold beverage in the other—there’s not a finer dining experience in Little Rock.
The fried chicken was adequate, but a bit dry. In truth, there was some inconsistency between pieces, some faring better texturally than others. But it was served piping hot, the skin was crispy, and the bird was better when doused in a bit of their hot sauce.
We finished with a slice of their sweet potato pie, which sat nonchalantly beside the cash register at checkout. It was buried in a small round bowl, wrapped in wax paper—we almost missed it entirely. But I’m glad we didn’t. The pie was soft, creamy, and sweet with a touch of sweet potato flavor. We would have enjoyed taking our slice home and adding a dollop of whipped cream, but it was too tasty to delay consumption. It was gone before we even sat down.
Exploring some of Little Rock’s lesser-known neighborhoods often yields surprisingly good meals. This is not the first time I found myself wondering what it would take to help this part of town get the support and recognition it deserves. What will it take to make Wright Ave. the next rejuvinated culinary gem? Time will tell. But certainly there’s enough good eating for the time being to entice a few fearless foodies to come see what’s cooking.
K Hall and Sons: 1900 Wright Avenue, Little Rock, 501-372-1513 and 501-372-4433, Mon-Sat 8:00 am – 6:00 pm, Sun 8 am – 3 pm.