There is more than one type of foodie. Oh sure, all foodies love local restaurants, where they can get some exciting cuisine from the finest chefs in their area. But since foodies are born from a love of food, it’s pretty common to see them whipping up their own creations in the kitchen. And if a foodie is cooking, expect to see excellent cooking tools and the freshest ingredients.
Knowing what to buy is only half the battle. Knowing where to find the best food and kitchen equipment is also crucial. Fortunately, we are blessed with some outstanding options for all of your at-home culinary adventures. So whether you are executive chef of your house, want some locally prepared foods to-go or are just looking for a great gift for a food lover, here are some of the best places for foodies to shop in Little Rock.
1. Arkansas Farmers Markets
Why to shop here: It is literally impossible to find fresher food than you can get at a farmers market. Arkansas is rich with farms that produce a wide range of produce, from succulent berries and peaches to vibrant greens and vegetables. You can also find some artisan foods, like local meats, cheeses, breads, honey and jams. Options vary based on the season, but that only means the freshness is built in to every purchase.
Where to find them: There are close to 100 farmers markets in Arkansas. Stop at the Hillcrest Farmers Market and Argenta Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. On Sunday, Bernice Garden is your destination. To find the market near you: www.Arkansas.com/dining/farmers-markets.
2. El Torito
Why to shop here: Mexican food is some of the easiest and most fun food to make at home, but home cooks can really take their dishes to the next level with authentic ingredients. El Torito is a one-stop-shop for Mexican foodstuffs. It features a large selection of fresh produce, a fresh meat counter and a wide selection of Mexican cheeses and dried chiles. But the big draw is the panaderia, or Mexican bakery. El Torito daily trots out freshly made churros, breads and desserts, all of which are delicious. And if you get hungry while shopping, you can order a few authentic tacos from the taqueria.
Where to find them: 303 Bowman Road, next door to Hallmark. Open seven days a week.
Why to shop here: Very few techniques let the home chef shine as much as using the proper herbs and spices, and Dandelion is a spice-lovers dream. The floor-to-ceiling wall of spice selections is an instant offering of unlimited options for home cooks. Dandelion offers some of the most unique herbs and spices available, including lavender flowers, grains of paradise and bee pollen. Dandelion is also home to an amazing selection of loose-leaf teas.
Where to find them: 419 President Clinton Ave., in the River Market (next to Cache Restaurant). Open seven days a week. For more information, visit Facebook.com/DandelionLLC.
4. Eggshells Kitchen Company
Why to shop here: Eggshell’s is the home cook’s paradise, featuring kitchen appliances, tools and gadgets for every cooking job imaginable. It’s an especially great place to shop for gifts, as you can find anything from an inexpensive handheld lime juicer to a top-of-the-line KitchenAid mixer. If your knives are going dull, Eggshells’ friendly and knowledgeable staff can put a new edge on them with their sharpening services. Eggshells also features regular classes in their demonstration kitchen, with some of the best chefs in Little Rock.
Where to find them: 5501 Kavanaugh Blvd. in the Heights, one block behind Kroger on Cantrell. Open Monday-Saturday. Find Eggshells online at EggshellsKitchenCompany.com.
5. Colonial Wine and Spirits
Why to shop here: The selection at Colonial is staggering. Whether you are looking for a liquor, beer or wine choice, you’ll likely have to narrow down your selection from dozens of options. That can be intimidating, but thankfully, the staff at Colonial is extremely helpful. No matter what time you go in, there’s always an expert on hand to help you make the right pick (they can even help with party planning). Colonial also has a tasting bar with daily samples and brings in guest hosts for small classes.
Where to find them: 11200 W. Markham St. Open Monday-Saturday. You can find up-to-date class and tasting information at ColonialWineAndSpirits.com.
Why to shop here: Fermentables specializes in products that allow more adventurous home cooks to create their own beer, wine and cheese. Amateur brewers will find beer-making options like hops, grains and bottling supplies. Winemakers will enjoy the special yeasts, corks and grape pressers available, and cheese-makers can find rennet, citric acid and molds. Fermentables also features pre-packaged kits to get you started, and the friendly staff is experienced with all the equipment and can help with tips and shopping advice.
Where to find them: 3915 Crutcher St., NLR. Open Tuesday-Saturday. You can shop Fermentables online as well, Fermentables.com.
7. Green Corner Store
Why to shop here: Loblolly! Ok, there’s more to the Green Corner Store, but Loblolly Creamery is guaranteed to delight foodies everywhere. Loblolly moved into the Green Corner Store in 2012 and immediately started making its wildly popular ice cream staples, like Salted Caramel, Buttermilk and Double Vanilla. Loblolly also takes advantage of Green Corner Store’s antique soda fountain to make its unique sodas. Green Corner Store also features healthy Arkansas-made options, like salsa and organic herbs, as well as decorative and functional dishes and serving utensils.
Where to find them: 1423 Main St., in SoMa. Open seven days a week. Visit them online at TheGreenCornerStore.com.
8. Hillcrest Artisan Meats
Why to shop here: H.A.M. is one of the best spots to find Arkansas-raised meat. The display case is always full of options for even the most selective carnivores, and if they don’t have it, they can get it. H.A.M.’s specialty is house-made sausages; there are dozens of varieties available, from the traditional sweet Italian to the addictive bacon Gruyere sausage. H.A.M. also makes its own applewood-smoked bacon in house. It’s one of the few places in town you can find ultra-high-end meat choices, like foie gras, jamón serrano and duck ham. H.A.M. keeps its shelves stocked with Arkansas-made food goods. H.A.M. is also the only shop in town to sell Benton-based Arkansas Fresh bread, with several options on Saturday only.
Where to find them: 2807 Kavanaugh Blvd. in Hillcrest. Open Monday-Saturday. A sandwich menu is updated daily at www.Facebook.com/HillcrestArtisanMeats.
9. K-Hall and Sons Produce
Why to shop here: This small, local grocery is always busy, and for good reason. It specializes in soul food groceries with an emphasis on New Orleans-style foods. On any given visit, you might find alligator, crawfish or lobsters, as well as some of the freshest seafood available. Fresh, local produce is abundant, as are plenty of ingredients for Southern preparations, like ham hocks, turkey legs and beef for stewing. Parking is tight, though there’s a parking lot in the back.
Where to find them: 1900 Wright Ave. Open seven days a week. Find them online at Facebook.com/KHallAndSonsProduce.
10. Mr. Chen’s Asian Supermarket
Why to shop here: The single most important aspect of a great seafood dish is freshness, and you won’t get any fresher than Mr. Chen’s. That’s because the seafood is still alive when you order it, swimming or crawling in saltwater tanks for customers to choose from. Options vary, but usually include crab, lobster, fish and clams. Mr. Chen’s also specializes in Asian delicacies, like whole roast duck, and has several aisles full of groceries that are perfect for an Asian-themed meal. Don’t feel like cooking? Mr. Chen’s has a full-service restaurant inside with authentic Chinese cuisine.
Where to find them: 3901 S. University Ave. Open seven days a week. The supermarket does not have a website, but the restaurant is online at www.MrChensChinese.com.
11. Mylo Coffee
Why to shop here: You likely know Mylo because of its incomparable pastries and pour-over coffee, but there’s some good shopping to be had as well. Mylo’s house-roasted coffee is available to take home in whole bean or ground varieties, and while it is a pricier option than you might be used to, the fresh roasting makes for some unique flavors. Mylo also features freshly baked rustic-style bread, locally produced honey, and Loblolly ice cream and sodas. And if you just have to have a pastry, make sure you get there early, as Mylo tends to sell out quickly.
Where to find them: 2715 Kavanaugh Blvd. in Hillcrest. Open Tuesday-Sunday. Visit them online at Facebook.com/MyloCoffeeCo.
12. Terry’s Finer Foods
Why to shop here: This Little Rock mainstay has always been a great option for Arkansas produce and goods (including an underrated fresh meat counter). However, Terry’s has recently become a must-go location with the addition of its pie shop. Terry’s features roughly a dozen pie options every day, from savory selections like crawfish pie, to the sweet and nostalgic oatmeal cream pie. Pies are available whole and by the slice. Terry’s also features a restaurant and will soon be the permanent home of Pizzeria Santa Lucia, further cementing its status as a top-notch culinary destination.
Where to find them: 5018 Kavanaugh Blvd. in the Heights. Open seven days a week.