In our Lunching in Little Rock blog series, Michael Kirkpatrick will explore and review the city’s best restaurants – all in time to get back to the office. This week, Michael ate lunch at The Flying Fish downtown. Click here to read more in this series. Photo courtesy of The Flying Fish.

If you missed the Arkansas State Fair, you might still be craving a smorgasbord of foods that you can only get on the main fairway. Everything on a stick, sweet treats and, of course, anything deep-fried to a golden brown. Surely you’ve gathered by now that I’m not much of a health food nut. (My body actually runs on frying oil.) If you’re like me – or just want a special crispy treat – you can forget the fair by eating fried goodness at The Flying Fish in the River Market District.

Just walking in The Flying Fish is quite an experience, with Big Mouth Billy Basses covering the walls from floor to ceiling, old photos of fishermen and mounted fish trophies. The fragrant smell of good food greets you like a warm blanket. There is a short line, but today it moves swiftly and soon it’s time to order my basket of crunchy fried joy. I order the six piece jumbo fried shrimp, a side of fries and a starter order of fried pickles. My group takes a seat by the big garage door windows, a great place to watch people and make your dipping sauces. I like a heavy horseradish cocktail sauce for my shrimp. The Flying Fish is happy to provide all you can handle, in addition to several types of hot sauces, lemon wedges and saltine crackers.

My buzzer goes off, excitedly telling me that my food is ready. The pickles are heaped high, served with two unique dipping sauces and are perfect for the table to share. The fries, which line the bottom of the basket, are cut long and thin. On top of the fries are golden brown, cornmeal-battered, jumbo shrimp. I was wondering if six would be enough, but immediately knew they would more than satisfy when I saw them.

Don’t mourn the passing of fair food this year; there are still plenty of places right here in central Arkansas that serve creative and traditional fried up greatness. Start with The Flying Fish and their offering of locally sourced product. In case you’re in the mood for something healthier, they also have great grilled or blackened fish, fresh oysters and salads. Bring a friend, an attitude for fun and a big appetite.