12 Best Restaurants in North Little Rock, Arkansas

North Little Rock, Arkansas may be in the shadow of its larger and more well-known neighbor, but over the years it has developed a food scene all its own. North Little Rock has a diverse collection of eateries, from classic Southern joints to swanky fine dining establishments to ethnic restaurants offering cuisines from all over the globe.

Foodies visiting North Little Rock for the first time may feel overwhelmed when deciding where to eat. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of the 12 best restaurants that North Little Rock has to offer.

From high-end steakhouses to hidden gem taco trucks, our picks span both price points and cuisines. For the purpose of variety, we tried to limit ourselves to just one restaurant per cuisine type – but that was difficult in some cases, because North Little Rock has exceptional depth in certain categories of food . Whether you’re a local looking to retry an old favorite or a visitor seeing North Little Rock for the first time, you can trust that any restaurant on this list is worth a taste!

Osso and Kristina’s Brick Oven Pizzeria

Nestled in the heart of the Argenta Arts District, Osso and Kristina’s Brick Oven Pizzeria brings a touch of big-city dining to North Little Rock. As soon as you step through the front door, the elegant atmosphere tells you that this isn’t your average pizza parlor. From the sleek modern decor to the critically acclaimed wine list, everything about Osso’s exudes sophistication.

But don’t let the upscale trappings fool you – Osso offers tasty food at reasonable prices. The pizzeria built its reputation on thin-crust pies baked in an imported Italian brick oven. The blistered and bubbly crusts have just the right amount of char and chewiness. Creative gourmet pizza toppings like prosciutto and fig or squash and sage go above and beyond pizza norms.

Beyond pizza, Osso serves fresh salads featuring local produce and antipasto stations overflowing with cured meats, cheeses, roasted veggies and house-made spreads. Save room for tiramisu or homemade gelato for dessert! With its perfect pizza and inviting ambiance, Osso tops our list as North Little Rock’s best restaurant.

Sims Bar-B-Que

No list of North Little Rock’s best restaurants would be complete without legendary barbecue joint Sims Bar-B-Que. Locals flock to this humble hole-in-the-wall near the banks of the Arkansas River for smoky ribs, fall-off-the-bone pork and snappy hot links made with a top-secret recipe. Sims doesn’t just serve the best barbecue in North Little Rock – food critics consistently rank them as one of the best barbecue restaurants in the entire state.

The brains behind the operation is pitmaster DeVonn Sims, who inherited the restaurant from his father who originally opened Sims in 1972. The pit-smoking process hasn’t changed much from the early days. DeVonn wakes at 3 AM to start smoking seasoned slabs of pork and beef brisket in a specially constructed smoker that sits just outside the restaurant.

Everything that goes on the menu gets kissed with hickory smoke for hours on end. Don’t expect frilly sides or dessert here – Sims keeps the focus on meat with a few classic barbecue pairings like baked beans, coleslaw and potato salad. Make sure to pick up some sauce on the way out!

Bobby’s Country Cookin’

Bobby’s Country Cookin’ embodies everything that’s wonderful about Southern food: warm hospitality, simple recipes cooked with love and stick-to-your-ribs fare like breaded pork chops, catfish fillets and scratch-made pies. Bobby Flay may be the celebrity chef on Food Network, but Bobby Riggins is the star of his namesake restaurant tucked away on the outskirts of North Little Rock. After a long career working in restaurant kitchens across central Arkansas, Bobby opened the doors to his own place focusing on the hearty country cooking of his childhood.

From the minute you sit down in a vinyl-backed booth or stool at the counter, you feel like you’re part of Bobby’s extended family. Daily specials might include pan-fried chicken served atop fluffy potato cakes or slow-simmered black-eyed peas rounding out a plate of fall-off-the-bone ribs. Don’t be afraid to order some Southern standbys like turnip greens, cornbread or pecan pie too.

Because Bobby uses time-tested recipes instead of shortcuts, the food may take a little longer to prepare – but one bite tells you why it’s worth the wait. Thanks to generous portions and reasonable prices, no one ever leaves hungry or unsatisfied.

Starving Artist Cafe

Tucked down a side street in Argenta, Starving Artist Cafe earns rave reviews for its laidback atmosphere and excellent food. Owner Matthew Landers is a classically trained chef who named the cafe as a tongue-in-cheek reference to his career change from cooking in swanky country clubs to serving hungry locals in a converted 1920s house. His fine dining expertise shines through in Starving Artist’s market-driven New American cuisine. Depending on the season, you might enjoy expertly seared salmon, duck confit cassoulet or vegetarian options like wild mushroom risotto and cauliflower steaks.

While the food impresses, customers really come for Starving Artist’s chill coffeehouse vibe. Local artwork spruces up the cozy dining rooms. On nice days, the tree-shaded back patio offers an ideal spot to sip an iced latte or local draft beer. A hip indie soundtrack completes the mood.

Matthew has a knack for hiring friendly servers who make everyone feel at ease. During morning and afternoon hours, sunlight streams through the windows – the ideal setting for having a pastry from their bakery case with the daily newspaper. Yes, you could find fancier decor at high-end eateries…but you can’t match the laidback charm at Starving Artist Cafe.

Rosita’s Authentic Mexican

When homesickness for honest, stick-to-your-ribs Mexican fare strikes, North Little Rock locals head straight to Rosita’s Authentic Mexican. Tucked away in a tiny pastel-colored cottage, Rosita’s doesn’t stand out much from the street. But inside, you find welcoming staff serving signature recipes from owner Rosita Vargas’ hometown region of Veracruz. Rosita learned to cook at her grandmother’s elbow back in Mexico and carried the traditions with her when she immigrated to the United States. Now her daughters help run the family restaurant.

While the menu features classic Tex-Mex staples like enchiladas, tacos and fajitas for the uninitiated, we recommend trying regional specialties from Veracruz. Top picks include tamales stuffed with spiced shredded pork, complex mole poblano sauce ladled over chicken or rich seafood stew cazuelita de mariscos brimming with shrimp, snapper, octopus and scallops in a zesty broth.

Round out your order with authentic rice, beans, homemade salsas and warm corn tortillas pressed just minutes before serving. Pitchers of margaritas, Mexican sodas and beers help cool the lingering heat from Rosita’s flavorful fare. Though the restaurant stays fairly busy, the friendly servers ensure every customer feels like a guest in Rosita’s home.

Mr. Cajun’s Food Express

Craving Louisiana-style home cooking but don’t want to cook it yourself? Mr. Cajun’s Food Express satisfies with convenient takeout containers crammed with Creole and Cajun classics. Don’t let the humble surroundings fool you – owner and head cook Marvin Carnegie hails from Southwest Louisiana and learned well how to coax intense flavor from inexpensive ingredients. He opened Mr. Cajun’s intending to share authentic bayou recipes with Central Arkansas residents who might not make the 8-hour drive to New Orleans or Lafayette.

We suggest calling in an order, because the daily specials like slow-cooked gumbo, red beans and rice or fried catfish tend to sell out. If they haven’t run out, make sure to add some jambalaya studded with spicy sausage, tender pulled chicken or shellfish dripping in peppery broth.

We also love classics like po boys overflowing with crispy shrimp or fried oysters. Don’t skimp on the remoulade! Seasoned curly fries make a perfect side to cut the richness. Desserts like sweet potato pie or bread pudding round out the menu, but we rarely have room to order them after plowing through the mountain of food from our entree. Definitely one of the best bang-for-your-buck restaurants in North Little Rock!

Sonny Williams’ Steak Room

Sometimes you want to trade barbecue and fried catfish for expertly cooked steaks – and that’s when local carnivores make reservations at Sonny Williams’ Steak Room tucked away in a Riverdale shopping center. Top-notch beef takes center stage, with cuts like bone-in ribeyes, porterhouses and filet mignon sharing space on the menu with lamb chops, pork chops and a selection of seafood. Sonny’s keeps things uncomplicated, allowing the inherent flavors of quality proteins to shine instead of covering them up with heavy sauces or spice mixes. Sides like asparagus, roasted potatoes and green beans make perfect complements.

Of course, a superior steakhouse needs an impressive wine list – and Sonny’s delivers with nearly 200 high-end reds and whites to match up with every preference and budget. Attentive staff can guide you if overwhelmed with the options.

Beyond sourcing excellent beef and wine, owner Sonny Williams strives for guests to feel pampered; white tablecloths, personalized service and live piano music most evenings sets an upscale ambiance often missing from independent restaurants. Sonny’s remains a reliable choice when only an expertly seared steak will cure your appetite.

The Pancake Shop

Sometimes nothing satisfies like a short stack of fluffy hotcakes dripping with butter and syrup. For 64 years, The Pancake Shop has served North Little Rock the best breakfast fare this side of the Mississippi. Technically they serve lunch and dinner too – but everyone knows breakfast is king at The Pancake Shop! Generous portions live up to the name with pancakes offered in orders of one, two or three…all the size of dinner plates.

Beyond sweet varieties like buttermilk, chocolate chip or praline bacon, they offer potato pancakes savory enough to be a meal. Breakfast plates come with eggs cooked to order along with bacon, sausage or ham steaks. Beignets, French toast and breakfast enchiladas satisfy those seeking an alternative to pancakes.

We especially love The Pancake Shop for people watching while enjoying their hearty breakfasts. Retirees mingle with college students meeting over piles of food and bottomless coffee refills in the worn vinyl booths.

No matter if you’re wearing a business suit or pajamas, everyone here focuses on enjoying fluffy, syrup-drenched perfection in a casual, welcoming environment. The Pancake Shop may not earn Michelin stars or James Beard awards, but their comforting, affordable morning fare makes them an Arkansas legend.

Cypress Social Club

Tucked below street level in North Little Rock’s Argenta neighborhood, the Cypress Social Club transports patrons back to the jazz era through food, drink and atmosphere.

Chef Milton Stanford expertly melds Low Country cuisine with French fine dining techniques for elevated Southern food like crispy fried green tomatoes draped in crabmeat, cast iron-seared trout topped with buttery garlic shrimp or fried chicken piccata pan-tossed in a lemon caper sauce. Every menu item bursts with intense flavor and chef-inspired flair.

Their cocktail program explores pre-Prohibition recipes awarding Cypress Social Club honors from national mixology magazines. Friendly bartenders craft elaborate libations marrying custom infusions, bitters, purees and other intriguing ingredients into smooth, balanced drinks.

Patrons particularly rave over the transportive ambiance Cypress Social created inside a historic remodeled bank space. Marble floors, dramatic chandeliers and leather circular booths conjure images of well-dressed diners socializing over Manhattans and dirty martinis during the glittering Jazz Era.

Nightly live music featuring Arkansas symphony members and regional jazz luminaries echos the setting. Cypress Social Club ties together award-winning food, drink and entertainment for a completely immersive fine dining experience unavailable anywhere else in the state.

Count Porkula’s BBQ

Barbecue joints often cultivate colorful names – but none in North Little Rock stand out quite like Count Porkula’s BBQ. Pitmaster Ross Lockhart chose the vampire pork pun name when founding his Argenta restaurant in 2010. Diners initially came for the silly name and pop culture decor. But over the past decade plus, Count Porkula’s transitioned to a local favorite by serving up smoked meat, sandwiches and sides that rival longtime barbecue institutions.

Given the name, you might assume Count Porkula’s specialty is pulled pork – and you’d be correct. Pork shoulder is the prime cut here, crusted with signature dry rub then smoking for up to 16 hours in a custom indirect heat smoker.

The result? succulent, ultra-flavorful meat that pulls apart with the gentlest pressure of your fork and tops some of the best loaded sandwiches in central Arkansas. Savvy diners know Count Porkula’s beef brisket might rival the pork though.

Wrapped in bacon blankets to baste in smoky drippings, the brisket cooks for 18 hours resulting in supremely moist and beefy flavor bombs when sliced. Creative bratwurst, Polish and other sausages bring diversity alongside expected smoked chicken, baby back ribs and hot links. Inventive seasonal specials like the spicy Ghost Pepper Wings or holiday Tom Porka Turkey Breast introduce welcomed variety on the menu.

Yen Ching

The seafood and stir fry restaurants of North Little Rock’s diverse Chinatown district compete for the title of best Chinese restaurant in central Arkansas. But none satisfy quite as consistently as family-owned Yen Ching on busy McCain Boulevard. The Noland family proudly serves scratch made Hong Kong-style cuisine focused on using quality ingredients instead of gloppy sauces or MSG flavor enhancers. Their Cantonese fare impresses seasoned Chinese food veterans and timid newcomers alike. We think Yen Ching edges other North Little Rock Chinese establishments for their delicate dumplings, complex seafood dishes and over the top desserts.

Dumpling appetizers like pan fried pork potstickers and shrimp shui mai rank among the best versions anywhere outside Hong Kong thanks to specially imported wheat dough flour that achieves the perfect thickness and chew. Move onto Hong Kong style crispy roast goose or lobster sautéed in ginger and scallions for stunning entrees coated in mouthwatering pan sauces instead of cornstarch sludge.

Locals passionately debate whether Yen Ching or rival Star of China makes the best Peking duck. We personally give the edge to Yen Ching’s version thanks to their perfect crackling crispy skin and balanced accompanying hoisin and scallion sauces – though you can’t go wrong ordering the duck at either restaurant if that’s your personal preference. Save room for the banana fritters drizzled in sweetened condensed milk at the end of your meal!

Big Orange Midtown location

Founded by a trio of Northwest Arkansas natives, the Big Orange franchise brought fast casual build-your-own burgers, tacos, salads and frozen custard to central Arkansas diners who previously needed to drive hours for similar chains like Freddy’s or Larkburger. While Big Orange expanded to multiple locations throughout Little Rock, we especially love the Midtown outpost thanks to its airy, contemporary interior design and proximity to shopping centers like Hillcrest. Diners queue up to order at the counter then have their food delivered, making Big Orange an ideal spot for families and informal business lunches.

While tacos and chicken sandwiches appear on the menu, their burgers made Big Orange a local favorite. Diners customize from proteins like certified Angus beef, all-natural turkey or Dr. Praeger’s black bean veggie patties then pile on cheese, produce and sauce toppings included at no additional charge.

Their signature Orange and Cherry Limeade frozen custards cool the palate after bulging custom burgers. While some knock fast casual spots for culinary shortcuts and average food, Big Orange Midtown impresses as an affordable option for high quality customizable fare with efficient counter order service. Sometimes you crave an artfully composed beet salad or handmade pasta – but other days, only a messy, mile-high burger will satisfy.


The 12 restaurants discussed above represent the favorite dining spots for North Little Rock locals, but they only brush the surface of this city’s underrated food scene. North Little Rock offers a diverse tapestry of cuisine, atmosphere and price points satisfying every possible appetite.

Barbecue fans congregate at classic smokehouses, while contemporary establishments in the resurgent Argenta neighborhood target more adventurous palates with chef-driven cuisine. Midtown outposts of regional fast casual chains draw hungry shoppers, but independent diners hidden in suburb strip malls beckon those seeking authentic international flavors. Whatever you’re craving, North Little Rock serves it up in a comfortable, welcoming environment.

The next time you find yourself nearby, venture across the Arkansas River and explore North Little Rock dining. Talk with the locals and get their latest recommendations in this ever-evolving food city.

We hope our picks for the 12 best North Little Rock restaurants fuels your exploration of authentic Southern food, punchy international fusions, and innovative contemporary cuisine prepared with care. With such a diversity of menus and atmospheres, you might just discover your new favorite restaurant waits just across the river.

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