12 Best Restaurants in Conway, Arkansas

Last Updated on February 12, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Conway, Arkansas is home to a vibrant and diverse food scene with restaurants offering cuisines from around the world. From traditional Southern comfort foods to exotic international flavors, Conway has something to satisfy every palate. The city’s location near Little Rock and proximity to the University of Central Arkansas helps fuel a constantly evolving culinary landscape.

In this article, we shine the spotlight on 12 of the best restaurants that Conway has to offer. The list spans all types of cuisine and price points – from wallet-friendly diners to upscale fine dining venues. For each restaurant, we provide a brief overview of the concept, highlights of the menu, and what makes it stand out.

Whether you’re a local looking to try somewhere new or a visitor exploring the city for the first time, these 12 restaurants should be on your radar on your next trip to Conway.

Mike’s Place


Overview: Mike’s Place is a historic local favorite known for hearty comfort food in a casual setting since 1957. The unpretentious diner dishes out classics like meatloaf, chicken fried steak, and chicken and dumplings at affordable prices.

Highlights:

  • Chicken and dumplings – Flaky, melt-in-your-mouth dumplings in rich chicken gravy
  • Meatloaf – Mike’s signature meatloaf topped with mushroom gravy, a customer favorite for decades
    -Monster burgers – Massive burgers piled high with all the fixings on a soft bun

What Makes It Stand Out: The welcoming atmosphere, generous portions, and made-from-scratch classics keep locals coming back generation after generation. Mike’s Place feels like stepping back in time.

Sims Bar-B-Que


Overview: Sims Bar-B-Que brings authentic smoked meat from an old family recipe to Conway. The popular joint smokes brisket, pork, turkey, sausage, and ribs over hickory wood in a traditional pit.

Highlights:

  • Smoked brisket – Tender brisket blanketed in peppery bark after 14 hours in the smoker
  • Baby back ribs – Fall-off-the-bone tender baby back pork ribs
  • Spicy Cajun sausage – Housemade sausage kick things up a notch

What Makes It Stand Out: The smoking process using time-honored techniques results in melt-in-your-mouth smoked meats. Low and slow pit smoking allows the natural flavors to shine.

Morrison’s Cafeteria


Overview: Morrison’s Cafeteria offers nostalgic comfort food buffet options in Conway since 1969. Diners can choose from the constantly rotating spread of Southern classics and daily specials. It’s ideal for large groups and families.

Highlights:

  • Fried chicken – Crispy, juicy fried chicken as good as grandma used to make
  • Meatloaf – Homestyle meatloaf made according to a decades-old recipe
  • Southern sides – Collard greens, black eyed peas, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and more

What Makes It Stand Out: Morrison’s captures the essence of Southern hospitality with fluffy biscuits, sweet iced tea and generous helpings of stick-to-your-ribs cuisine. The affordable prices make it a local favorite.

Flatbread Neapolitan Pizzeria


Overview: Flatbread Neapolitan Pizzeria provides a taste of Italy in Conway by making every pizza in an authentic wood-fired oven. The pizzeria uses fresh, high-quality ingredients on its creative flatbread pizzas.

Highlights:

  • Wild mushroom pizza – Sauteed wild mushrooms, rosemary, garlic, and fontina cheese
  • Arugula chicken pizza – Marinated chicken, caramelized onions, goat cheese and lemon arugula
  • Artisan cocktails – Craft cocktails featuring unique infusions and fresh ingredients

What Makes It Stand Out: Flatbread’s dedication to sourcing premium ingredients shines through in every bite. The high heat from the wood-fired oven gives the thin crust a smoky char and slight chew.

Rolando’s Nuevo Latino Restaurante


Overview: Rolando’s Nuevo Latino Restaurante infuses Latin American flavors into fresh Arkansas ingredients. Inspired by Cuban and Caribbean cuisine, the inventive menu features contemporary twists on traditional dishes.

Highlights:

  • Classic mojitos & margaritas – Handcrafted mojitos and margaritas in unique flavors
  • Cuban roast pork – Slow roasted pork shoulder in a tangy garlic-lime marinade
  • Argentinean chimichurri steak – Grilled Ribeye smothered in a vibrant parsley and garlic sauce

What Makes It Stand Out: Chef Rolando blends the spices, herbs and textures of his Cuban heritage with Southern culinary roots. Vibrant Pan-Latin small plates meant for sharing invite exploration.

Shorty Small’s


Overview: Shorty Small’s pairs live music with house smoked BBQ, taking entertainment dining to new levels. Beyond hosting local and national musicians nightly, the eatery plates up Memphis-style ribs, brisket, and hot links.

Highlights:

  • Memphis dry rub ribs – Pork ribs coated in a secret blend of spices
  • Smoked wings – Crispy smoked chicken wings in flavors like lemon pepper or spicy Cajun
  • Whiskey menu – Extensive whiskey library to pair with smoked meats

What Makes It Stand Out: With a calendar full of live music almost every night and finger-lickin’ barbecue favorites, Shorty Small’s delivers good times and great flavors under one roof.

Mama D’s Diner


Overview: Mama D’s Diner dishes out delicious comfort food favorites from scratch including fluffy biscuits, chicken fried steak, and apple dumplings. The retro-style diner has daily dinner specials that keep regulars coming back.

Highlights:

  • Chicken and dumplings – Flaky pillow-soft dumplings in creamy chicken broth
  • 5 alarm chili – Their signature extra spicy chili topped with cheese and onions
  • Fried pies – Handmade fried pies with fillings like apple, cherry, peach, or chocolate

What Makes It Stand Out: Made-from-scratch comfort food classics at wallet friendly prices make Mama D’s a beloved neighborhood staple. The staff treats everyone like family.

Mexico Viejo


Overview: Mexico Viejo shares authentic regional Mexican cuisine from family recipes spanning generations. Traditional dishes get modern updates with unique flavor combinations. From scratch margaritas and specialty cocktails round out the offerings.

Highlights:

  • Tableside guacamole – Fresh guacamole prepared tableside to order
  • Enchiladas suizas – Shredded chicken or cheese enchiladas baked in a rich verde sauce
  • Housemade tamales – Handmade tamales in flavors like chicken mole or rajas con queso

What Makes It Stand Out: Mexico Viejo strikes a balance between tradition and innovation with different regions of Mexican cuisine represented. From Oaxacan moles to Yucatan cochinita pibil, there’s always something new to try.

Mike & Linda’s Deli


Overview: Husband and wife owners Mike and Linda serve up stacked sandwiches on freshly baked bread at their popular deli. With over 20 customizable sandwich options and daily soups made in-house, there’s something for everyone.

Highlights:

  • French dip – Thinly sliced roast beef and melty Swiss cheese on a toasted baguette served with beef au jus
  • Club sandwich – Triple-decker sandwich with layers of turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayo
  • Soup of the day – Hearty soups made fresh daily like loaded potato soup or chicken noodle

What Makes It Stand Out: Quality ingredients, warm hospitality, and scratch-made sandwiches set Mike & Linda’s Deli apart. Regulars rave about the perfectly balanced flavors.

Brave New Restaurant


Overview: James Beard Award Semifinalist Chef Miles James blends Arkansas flavors and ingredients with global techniques at his contemporary American restaurant Brave New. The ever-evolving tasting menus may include creative small plates or multicourse meals.

Highlights:

  • Chef’s tasting menu – An immersive dining experience with the chef’s choice of 5-8 creative courses
  • Foie gras dish – Seared foie gras served with local berries and balsamic vinegar powders
  • Dry aged duck breast – Pan seared dry aged duck served with squash purée and demi-glace

What Makes It Stand Out: Fine dining technique meets Southern hospitality and ingredrients. Nestled downtown in a historic Victorian home, the intimate restaurant has an upscale but approachable vibe.

Cupcakes and More


Overview: Cupcakes and More bakes incredible signature cupcakes daily using premium ingredients. Their ever-changing menu always features creative and decadent flavors. Custom cakes are also available to order.

Highlights:

  • Red velvet cupcake – Classic red velvet cake with their signature vanilla cream cheese icing
  • Salted caramel – Buttery caramel cake topped with salted caramel buttercream and sprinkled with sea salt
  • Custom cakes – Fully customized cakes perfect for birthdays, weddings and special occasions

What Makes It Stand Out: Skillful baking and attention to detail make Cupcakes and More a standout. The elegant yet whimsical desserts taste as good as they look.

Crêpes Petite


Overview: Crêpes Petite crafts delicate French-inspired crêpes and galettes using organic ingredients. Both sweet and savory options available with creative fillings and artful presentation.

Highlights:

  • Nutella strawberry – A sweet crêpe filled with creamy Nutella and fresh strawberries
  • Ham & gruyère galette – Savory buckwheat crêpe with Black Forest ham, gruyere cheese, egg
  • Craft espresso drinks – Quality espresso drinks like cappuccinos and lattes with artful foam

What Makes It Stand Out: Crêpes Petite elevates ordinary crêpes into edible art. With an excellent selection of sweet and savory fillings made from organic and locally-sourced ingredients when possible.

The Pancake Shop


Overview: The Pancake Shop serves up fluffy pancakes in creative flavors around the clock. With breakfast served all day and late night hours on weekends, they sling pancakes for early birds and night owls alike.

Highlights:

  • Red velvet pancakes – Their signature red velvet buttermilk pancakes topped with cream cheese icing
  • Oreo overload pancakes – Pancakes dotted with Oreo crumbles topped with whipped cream
  • Pancake flights – Sampler flights with mini pancakes letting you taste multiple flavors

What Makes It Stand Out: With almost 20 pancake varieties on the menu, The Pancake Shop ensures all cravings get satisfied at any time of day. Their fluffy pancakes bursting with flavors keep patrons coming back.

Conclusion


From all-American diners serving scratch-made comfort food to fine dining venues pushing boundaries, Conway offers no shortage of excellent dining establishments. Barbecue joints, Latin restaurants, bakeries, diners, and more provide a taste of different cultures and cuisines. High quality ingredients, skilled culinary techniques, and true Southern hospitality run through the city’s diverse food scene.

The 12 restaurants featured capture local favorites, special occasion hot spots, and hidden gems that first-time visitors absolutely must try. Whether planning a night out with friends or looking for a quick weekday lunch, Conway’s restaurants cater to every craving. These restaurants reflect the passion, skill, and diverse flavors incorporated by Conway’s talented chefs and restaurateurs. So pull up a seat and dig in to the vibrant, ever-evolving food culture Conway has cultivated.

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