Foodie News: Local Updates You May Have Missed This Summer

It’s been a busy summer for the Little Rock foodie scene, and if you haven’t kept an eye out, there’s a good chance some of the local restaurant news has passed you by.

We won’t go into all of the updates and details here, but we made a quick cheat sheet to catch you up on some of the foodie highlights from the past few months you may have missed. Buckle up, hungry friends.


Downtown, East Village & Argenta

• Starting off strong across the river, Diamond Bear Brewing Company is now home to in-house restaurant Ol’ Bart Southern Eats. This is the second location for the Conway-based joint that specializes in Memphis-inspired barbecue with classic Southern sides.

• Nearby, in the former Cregeen’s space, Draft and Table is inching toward opening. The American fare-focused restaurant initially planned to open early next month, though no set date has been announced. Read our convo with executive chef Kevin Doroski.

• This year has brought a shakeup to the RIver Market as Cannibal and Craft, The Library Kitchen & Lounge and Charlee’s Good Time Drinkery all closed their doors. And while there are still empty spaces on the strip, we do know a new Mexican restaurant from the owners of Cantina Cinco de Mayo and Mojitos & Margaritas Grill & Bar is set to take over The Library’s former space. No word on an updated timeline.

• Over in East Village, Sterling Market is putting the final touches on its outdoor space dubbed “The Alley” complete with dining area, rec space, bar and retractable roof.

• On Main Street, the second Little Rock location of Big Bad Breakfast has a new opening date, Oct. 17, in the former Soul Fish Cafe space.

• And in much more sad news, Dave’s Place, a local institution and fixture of the downtown lunch scene, has closed its doors after 30 years.


SoMa & Pettaway

• In SoMa, the much-anticipated opening of The Bagel Shop came in early August, and the popular pop-up-turned-storefront has been buzzing ever since. Come for the bagels, stay for the pastries, sandwiches, coffee and, well, bagels. 

• Across the street, BCW (which stands for Bread Cheese Wine) is just days away from opening at 1424 Main St. The menu promises “‘elevated’ grilled cheese sandwiches with an extensive wine list, innovative cocktails and fun shareable plates,” plus walls decked in local artists.

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• Like the River Market, the famous South on Main has had a rocky few years. The restaurant changed hands in early 2020, closed at the end of 2022, then served as a temporary location for The Loony Bin after the March 31 tornado. Last month, owner Don Dugan reopened the restaurant with a new name, vibe and menu. The Busker now serves “American bar food made from scratch” with live music and streaming sports.

• A few blocks away, the Pettaway neighborhood has caught the attention of many locals in recent months. Pettaway Coffee and the Smashed N’ Stacked burger truck have become fast favorites, while we also await the return of Moody Brews by way of a new small brewery and taproom.


The Heights, Hillcrest, Stifft Station & Riverdale

• George’s may well be the most talked-about new restaurant of the year, and we can’t blame the hype. The Italian eatery opened in mid-August, paying homage to its past life as Hillcrest’s Cafe Prego while also bringing something entirely new to the scene. And if the full reservation lists are any indication, people can’t wait to try it. Read our exclusive first taste here.

• Southern and Creole cuisine (not to mention a tasty brunch) has drawn in locals to the new Copper Mule Table & Tap in The Heights, the second location of the Bryant restaurant.

• In Stifft Station, entrepreneur and thrift pro Maximiliano Dominguez recently expanded his Rose Garden Market & Co. pop-up into a new cafe in the former Stone’s Throw location. The space offers coffee, beer and pastries alongside local art and vintage finds available for purchase.

• Patience has paid off for Little Rock barbecue fans. Years of asking if/when NWA-based Wright’s Barbecue would bring its award-winning fare (and pristine game day atmosphere) to central Arkansas seems to have finally worked, and locals can cash in at the newly opened Wright’s at 1311 Rebsamen Park Road. 


West Little Rock

• The reimagination of Breckenridge Village has been a point of excitement for the restaurant scene, and despite ruined timelines after extensive tornado damage, progress has picked back up on the likes of new locations for The Root, DeLuca’s Pizzeria, a Flyway Brewing taproom and Waldo’s Chicken & Beer, as well as a new site for Mt. Fuji. Another great addition is Neverwhere, a coffee and comic book shop below The Loony Bin that opened in July.

• Further down Rodney Parham, Delicious Temptations has been working all summer to expand into the neighboring space in the plaza. The 2,000 square feet of extra room will provide more seating, a new bar and more room to flex their menu muscles. Read our feature on the team here.

• The Markham Square plaza on the 9800 block of West Markham has seen a lot of foodie activity in recent years, but currently the most anticipated is the debut of a brick-and-mortar location for Certified Pies. The pizzeria hosted a soft opening last weekend and will officially open this Saturday, Sept. 23.

• Memphis-based City Silo Table + Pantry recently opened in The Promenade at Chenal in the former Pei Wei space with a menu centered around “re-imagined comfort food, created with wholesome, clean ingredients.” The restaurant is part of the Fresh Hospitality restaurant group, which includes Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe, Count Porkula and Waldo’s Chicken & Beer.


One more thing to remember: Restaurants are regularly updating their menus for the season or adding new hours and services — for example, Tacos Godoy now has breakfast, Flyway and Maryam’s Grill have brunch, AMFA’s Park Grill has dinner — so make a point to check in on your favorite spots and follow them on social media for updates. 

And of course: The 2023 Guide to Your Favorite Fall Festivals

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