Arkansas takes food seriously. From agriculture to local restaurants to the jobs that employ many in The Natural State, food is at the heart of what everyday life means to many Arkansans. Each year, AY About You asks its readers to vote for their favorite restaurants to enjoy every type of food, dessert and drink you can think of. From Best Appetizer to Best Pimento Cheese, there are so many eateries worth celebrating.

 

According to the National Restaurant Association’s Arkansas State Statistics, there were 5,554 eating and drinking locations in 2021, with $6.5 billion estimated to be spent at these locations. Not only can Arkansans celebrate really great food, but when guests spend money at Arkansas restaurants, they are also supporting the entire state’s economy.

 

Grapette, cheese dip, fried okra, fried catfish and possum pie are just a few of the foods known for their iconic Arkansas connections and the legacy of these foods celebrated in restaurants around the state. Next time you decide to eat out, be sure to check AY About You’s 2023 Restaurant Readers Poll Winners list.

 

Below are some of our favorites; check out the entire list to see how your go-to restaurant fared and in what category.

 

Best Restaurant

Cypress Social

North Little Rock

Despite starting on the threshold of the the tumultuous years of the pandemic, Cypress Social has quickly risen to claim its place as AY’s 2023 Best Restaurant. This might not come as a surprise, as Cypress Social is just one of the latest exploits of legendary restaurateur Jim Keet who can list Taziki’s Mediterranean Café and Petit and Keet as just two of the successes on his resume. Cypress Social has breathed new life into what was once the North Little Rock landmark Cock of the Walk with what the restaurant’s interior designer Garry Mertins described as “Casual, Southern food with no attitude.” Southern classics like cornbread and fried green tomatoes come in right alongside redfish pontchartrain and sous vide beef filet for a menu to suit any occasion, not to mention a beautiful lake-side venue.

 

restaurants

Best Mexican

Baja Grill

Benton, Little Rock

California-style Mexican food is the name of the game at Baja Grill featuring fresh ingredients, great tacos and even better house-made margaritas. With two locations in Central Arkansas, Baja Grill falls under the The Taco Society, a concept group of restaurateurs Heather Baber-Roe and Craig Roe. The Roes also own Valhalla Kitchen + Bar, Valkyrie Axe Throwing and RŌBER Cocktails & Culinary. Baja Grill originally started as a small food truck in 2012, but has grown to a traditional restaurant. Each item is meticulously prepared at Baja Grill, with meats smoked for 20 hours on-location. Baja Grill is the Best Mexican recipient for this year’s Reader’s Restaurant Poll and in 2022 was named in the top three for AY’s Best Of 2022.

 

restaurants

Best Chicken Wings

Foghorn’s

Fayetteville, Siloan Springs, Springdale, Rogers

Foghorn’s is known for its world-class wings, burgers, sports coverage, live music and so much more. Located conveniently throughout Northwest Arkansas, the restaurant prides itself on having the best TV set-up in all of its locations. No matter what kind of wings you want to dig into, Foghorns has something for every wing lover to savor, with 50 different sauces and eight unique dry rubs to choose from. This Arkansas original has won awards with house sauces such as Acid Rain, Cryin’ Hawaiian and Habanero Sweet Barbecue. If you’re craving fantastic wings, don’t hesitate to head out to a Foghorn’s location to enjoy a game, an entree and good service.

 

restaurants

Best Happy Hour

Sauce(d) Bar and Oven

Little Rock

If you’re looking for gourmet, chef-inspired meals prepared from fresh local ingredients, look no further than Sauced Bar and Oven. To sweeten the deal, make sure you visit from 2 to 6 p.m. any day of the week to take advantage of their happy hour. The Sauced specialty is gourmet Neapolitan-style wood-oven pizza, accompanied by house soups and salads and exceptional pasta, paired with signature cocktails, wine on tap and local draft beer. With a private dining room available for special occasions and an open kitchen where you can watch a professionally trained staff work, Sauced boasts an experience to match its menu.

 

restaurants

Best Cheese Dip

Local Lime

Little Rock, Rogers

Cheese dip is a staple of any Arkansan’s diet and restaurants all over the state have worked to create their own special recipes. At Local Lime, the staff is focused on providing the very best food and service to its customers. The menu is packed with unique and traditional menu items, with cheese dip being among the most popular. Local Lime is part of the Yellow Rocket Concepts suite of restaurants, which includes many Arkansas owned and inspired establishments such as Zaza Fine Salad & Wood-Oven Pizza Co., Big Orange, Lost Forty, Camp Taco, Bentonville Taco & Tamale Co. and Heights Taco & Tamale Co.

 

Best Appetizer

Red Moon Tavern

Little Rock

 

restaurants

Best Bakery

PattiCakes Bakery

Conway

 

Best Barbecue Ribs

Whole Hog Cafe

North Little Rock

 

restaurants

Best Barbecue Sandwich

Count Porkula

Little Rock, North Little Rock

 

Best Bartender

Veo Tyson, So Restaurant

Little Rock

 

restaurants

Best Beer Selection

Waldo’s Chicken & Beer

North Little Rock

 

Best Biscuits & Gravy

The Croissanterie

Little Rock

 

Big Bad Breakfast Little Rock restaurants

Best Breakfast

Big Bad Breakfast

Little Rock

 

Best Brunch

@ The Corner

Little Rock

 

Best Burger

(Non-fast food)

Big Orange

Little Rock, Rogers

 

Best Business Lunch

Homers East

Little Rock

 

Best Cajun/Creole

Copper Mule Table & Tap

Bryant

 

Best Caterer

DownHome Catering

Benton

 

restaurants

Best Catfish

Eat My Catfish

Benton, Conway, Fayetteville,

Little Rock, North Little Rock, Rogers, Siloam Springs

 

restaurants

Best Chain Restaurant

David’s Burgers

Benton, Bryant, Conway, Cabot, Hot Springs, Little Rock,

North Little Rock, Mabelvale

 

Best Chef

Aaron Fowler, Cypress Social

North Little Rock

 

Best Chicken & Dumplings

NeNe’s Dishes

Cabot

 

restaurants

Best Chinese

Three Fold

Little Rock

 

Best Classic Restaurant

(20+ Years)

The Terrace

Little Rock

 

Best Cocktails

Petit & Keet

Little Rock

 

Best Coffeehouse (non-chain)

Nexus Coffee & Creative

Little Rock

 

Best Date Night

Table 28

Little Rock

 

Best Deli

Burge’s

Lewisville, Little Rock

 

restaurants

Best Dessert

Trio’s

Little Rock

 

Best Interior Design

Cache

Little Rock

 

restaurants

Best Dive Bar

Town Pump

Little Rock

 

Best Donuts

Shipley Do-nuts

Batesville, Bryant, Dardanelle,

El Dorado, Hot Springs, Jacksonville, Jonesboro, Little Rock, Magnolia, Maumelle, Newport, North Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Russellville, Searcy, Sherwood, Stuttgart, Texarkana

 

Best Entertainment Restaurant

Valhalla Restaurant & Axe Throwing

Benton

 

restaurants

Best Fine Dining

Red Oak Steakhouse

Pine Bluff

 

Best Food Truck

Tacos Godoy

Little Rock

 

Best French Fries

David’s Burgers

Benton, Bryant, Conway, Cabot, Hot Springs, Little Rock, Mabelvale, North Little Rock

 

restaurants

Best Fried Chicken

Cache

Little Rock

 

Best Gyro

Layla’s Gyros and Pizzeria

Little Rock

 

Best Historical Restaurant

The Ohio Club

Hot Springs

 

restaurants

Best Ice Cream

Loblolly Creamery

Benton, Little Rock

 

Best Italian

Pasta Grill

Conway

 

Best Japanese

Mt. Fuji

Little Rock

 

Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant

Purple Cow

Conway, Hot Springs, Little Rock, North Little Rock

 

Best Late-Night Dining (after 10 p.m.)

The Pantry

Little Rock

 

Best Liquor store

Legacy Wine and Spirits

Little Rock

restaurants

Best Local Brewery

Lost Forty Brewing and Spirits

Little Rock

 

Best Mediterranean

Taziki’s Mediterranean Café

Bentonville, Conway, Fayetteville, Little Rock, North Little Rock

 

Best New Restaurant

RŌBER :: Cocktails + Culinary

Benton

 

Pancakes

Best Pancakes

The Pancake Shop

Hot Springs

 

Best Patio Dining

Hill Station

Little Rock

 

Best People Watching

Petit & Keet

Little Rock

 

Best Pie

BJ’s Market Cafe

North Little Rock

 

Best Pimento Cheese

Capital Bar and Grill

Little Rock

 

restaurants

Best Pizza

DeLuca’s Pizzeria

Hot Springs

 

Best Place to Watch the Game

Brewski’s Pub & Grub

Little Rock

 

Best Restaurant for a Special Occasion

The Buglar, Oaklawn

Hot Springs

 

Best Restaurant for Vegan Options

Vito & Vera

Little Rock

 

restaurants

Best Restaurant for Vegetarian Options

The Root

Little Rock

 

Best Restaurant to Impress

Out-of-Towners

One Eleven

Little Rock

 

Best Restaurant Worth the Drive

Hoots BBQ & Steaks

McGehee

 

restaurants

Best Salad

ZAZA’s

Conway, Little Rock

 

Best Sandwich

Cross Creek Sandwich Shop

Conway

 

Best Seafood

The Oyster Bar

Little Rock

 

Best Server

JoJo, Cache

Little Rock

 

Best Steak

Arthur’s Prime Steakhouse

Little Rock

 

Best Sushi

Kemuri

Little Rock

 

Best Taco

Mockingbird Bar & Tacos

Little Rock

 

Best Thai

Taste of Thai

Springdale

 

Best Wine List

Samantha’s Tap Room & Wood Grill

Little Rock

 

restaurants

Best Whiskey Bar

Allsop & Chappel

Little Rock

 

READ ALSO: Server Says: Samantha & Chris Tanner Own Some of Arkansas’s Best Restaurants