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Readers Choice 2017 results

Soup to nuts, restaurant-wise.

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BEST BARISTA: Kara Bibb of Boulevard Bread Co. in the Heights.
  • BEST BARISTA: Kara Bibb of Boulevard Bread Co. in the Heights.

The Arkansas Times has been publishing its readers' choices for the state's best restaurants longer than most of the staff has been alive. That means our writers have been raised on our readers' recommendations: For 36 years, you've put your votes where your mouths are and we have dutifully reported the results.

Our exhaustive questionnaire — with its 45 categories — came up with The Pantry Eatery as Little Rock's "overall" winner and The Hive in Bentonville as the state winner. Both have gotten plenty of ink in the Arkansas Times, so we turned our feature writers loose on a couple of winners in the "new" category: Honey Pies in Little Rock and The Preacher's Son in Bentonville. DeLuca's Pizzeria in Hot Springs won that city's best restaurant award; we got the fascinating story of how proprietor Anthony Valinoti went from Wall Street to the Spa City's Park Avenue.

Because hamburgers are king, we pulled one up from the food truck Excaliburger, which some folks find magical. With our sticky fingers on the pulse of what's trendy in the world of chow, we also offer this year a review of ticketed dinners.

Overall

Little Rock

Winner: The Pantry Eatery

Finalists: @ the Corner, Boulevard Bistro, The Root Cafe, South on Main

Around the state

Winner: The Hive (Bentonville)

Finalists: 28 Springs (Siloam Springs), Mike's Place (Conway), Rolando's Restaurante (Hot Springs), Tamale Factory (Gregory)

New

Little Rock

Winner: Honey Pies

Finalists: Eat My Catfish, La Madeleine French Bakery and Cafe, Soul Fish Cafe, Skye's Little Bistro

Around the state

Winner: The Preacher's Son (Bentonville)

Finalists: Bocca Italian eatery & pizzeria (Fayetteville), Butcher and Pint (Bentonville), Foxhole Public House (Bentonville), Mockingbird Kitchen (Fayetteville).

Chef

Little Rock

Winner: Chris McMillan (Boulevard Bistro)

Finalists: Matthew Bell (South on Main), Peter Brave (Brave New Restaurant), Jeffrey Owen (Ciao Baci), Scott McGehee (Big Orange, Heights Taco & Tamale Co., Local Lime, Lost Forty, ZAZA Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Co.)

Around the state

Winner: Matthew McClure (The Hive)

Finalists: Matthew Cooper (The Preacher's Son), Tyler Hensley (Postmasters Grill, Camden), Rob Nelson (Tusk & Trotter, Bentonville)

COMMUNITY BAKERY: Winner for best bakery.
  • COMMUNITY BAKERY: Winner for best bakery.

Bakery

Little Rock

Winner: Community Bakery

Finalists: Boulevard Bread Co., Dempsey Bakery, Honey Pies, Mylo Coffee Co.

Around the state

Winner: Rick's Bakery (Fayetteville)

Finalists: Little Bread Co. (Fayetteville), Serenity Farm Bread (Leslie), PattiCakes Bakery (Conway), SugarDumplin's Cupcakes (Bryant)

Barbecue

Little Rock

Winner: Whole Hog Cafe

Finalists: Corky's BBQ, HB's Bar-B-Q, Lost Forty Brewing, Sims Bar-B-Que

Around the state

Winner: McClard's Bar-B-Q Restaurant (Hot Springs)

Finalists: Craig's Bar-B-Q (DeValls Bluff), Fat Daddy's Bar-B-Que (Conway), Mean Pig BBQ (Cabot), Whole Hog Cafe (Conway)

Barista

Little Rock

Winner: Kara Bibb (Boulevard Bread Co.)

Finalists: Jeremy Bragg (River City Coffee), Helen Grace King (@ the Corner), Brice Ward (Mylo Coffee Co.)

Around the state

Winner: Caleb Erwin (Blue Sail Coffee, Conway)

Finalists: Greta Allendorf (Arsaga's, Fayetteville), Max May (Puritan Coffee & Beer, Fayetteville)

Brunch

Little Rock

Winner: The Root Cafe

Finalists: @ the Corner, Boulevard Bistro, Lost Forty Brewing, Red Door

Around the state

Winner: The Hive (Bentonville)

Finalists: Arsaga's at the Depot (Fayetteville), Oven & Tap (Bentonville), Pressroom (Bentonville), Tusk & Trotter (Bentonville)

RIGHT HERE IN RIVER CITY COFFEE: A finalist in two categories: coffee and barista.
  • RIGHT HERE IN RIVER CITY COFFEE: A finalist in two categories: coffee and barista.

Buffet

Little Rock

Winner: Star of India Restaurant

Finalists: Franke's Cafeteria, Larry's Pizza, Taj Mahal, Tokyo House

Around the state

Winner: Dondie's White River Princess (Des Arc)

Finalists: Abe's Ole Feed House (Benton), Brown's Country Store & Restaurant (Benton), Bryce's Cafeteria (Texarkana), Hibachi Sushi Buffet (Hot Springs)

Burger

Little Rock

Winner: Big Orange

Finalists: Buffalo Grill, Excaliburger, David's Burgers, The Root Cafe

Around the state

Winner: Hugo's (Fayetteville)

Finalists: David's Burgers (Conway), CJ's Butcher Boy Burgers (Russellville), Cotham's Mercantile (Scott), Mike's Place (Conway)

Business lunch

Little Rock

Winner: Capital Bar & Grill

Finalists: Brave New Restaurant, Cache Restaurant, Copper Grill, Samantha's Tap Room & Wood Grill

Around the state

Winner: The Hive (Bentonville)

Finalists: Arsaga's at the Depot (Fayetteville), Mike's Place (Conway), Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe (Bentonville), Tusk & Trotter (Bentonville)

Butcher

Little Rock

Winner: Edwards Food Giant

Finalists: Fresh Market, Hogg's Meat Market, Kroger, Terry's Finer Foods (closed)

Around the state

Winner: Richard's Meat Market (Fayetteville)

Finalists: Butcher and Pint (Bentonville), Paul's Meat Market (Fort Smith), Weldon's Meat Market (Hot Springs)

Catfish

Little Rock

Winner: Eat My Catfish

Finalists: Burge's, Doe's Eat Place, Flying Fish, Lassis Inn

Around the state

Winner: Eat My Catfish (Benton)

Finalists: Cafe Rue Orleans (Fayetteville), The Catfish Hole (Fayetteville), Flying Fish (Bentonville), Mr. Whiskers (Hot Springs)

WINNING BEST CHINESE FOOD SALUTE: Fantastic China, with such dishes as its General Tso's chicken.
  • WINNING BEST CHINESE FOOD SALUTE: Fantastic China, with such dishes as its General Tso's chicken.

Chinese

Little Rock

Winner: Fantastic China

Finalists: Chi's Chinese Cuisine, Mr. Chen's Authentic Chinese Cooking, Fu Lin Chinese Restaurant, Three Fold Noodles and Dumpling Co.

Around the state

Winner: Fu Lin Chinese Restaurant (Conway)

Finalists: Jade China Restaurant (Conway), Hunan Manor Restaurant (Fayetteville), Madame Wu's Hunan Restaurant (Russellville), Wok Express (Hot Springs)

Coffee

Little Rock

Winner: Mylo Coffee Co.

Finalists: Boulevard Bread Co., Community Bakery, Honey Pies, River City Coffee

Around the state

Winner: Onyx Coffee Lab (Fayetteville)

Finalists: Arsaga's Fayetteville Coffee Roasters, Blue Sail Coffee (Conway), Jitterbug Coffeehouse (Heber Springs), Mud Street Cafe (Eureka Springs)

Deli/gourmet to go

Little Rock

Winner: Boulevard Bread Co.

Finalists: @the Corner, Community Bakery, Market at Capers, Jason's Deli

Desserts

Little Rock

Winner: Honey Pies

Finalists: @ the Corner, Community Bakery, Loblolly Creamery, Trio's Restaurant

Around the state

Winner: The Hive (Bentonville),

Finalists: Arsaga's at the Depot (Fayetteville), Charlotte's Eats & Sweets (Keo), Rolando's Restaurante (Hot Springs), SugarDumplin's Cupcakes (Bryant)

Dog friendly

Little Rock

Winner: U.S. Pizza Hillcrest

Finalists: The Fold: Botanas and Bar, The Root Cafe, Stone's Throw Brewery

Around the state

Winner: Arsaga's at the Depot (Fayetteville)

Finalists: Apple Blossom Brewery (Fayetteville), Crepes Paulette (Bentonville), Oven & Tap (Bentonville), Rolando's Restaurante (Hot Springs)

Food truck

Little Rock

Winner: Excaliburger

Finalists: Hot Rod Weiners, Katmandu MoMo, Loblolly Creamery, Southern Salt Food Co.

Around the state

Winner: Crepes Paulette (Bentonville)

Finalists: Big Sexy Food (Fayetteville), Nomad's Natural Plate (Fayetteville), Slader's Alaskan Dumpling Co. (Searcy), Truckin' Delicious (Fort Smith)

French fries

Little Rock

Winner: Big Orange

Finalists: @ the Corner, Arkansas Burger Co., Boulevard Bistro, David's Burgers

Around the state

Winner: The Hive (Bentonville)

Finalists: David's Burgers (Conway), Hugo's (Fayetteville), Mike's Place (Conway), Tusk & Trotter (Bentonville)

Fried chicken

Little Rock

Winner: Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken

Finalists: Bobby's Country Cooking, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Slim Chickens, South on Main

Around the state

Winner: The Hive (Bentonville)

Finalists: A.Q. Chicken House (Fayetteville), Frickin' Chicken (Fayetteville), Holly's Country Cooking (Conway), Monte Ne Inn (Rogers)

Fun

Little Rock

Winner: Dave and Buster's

Finalists: Big Orange, Ciao Baci, The Fold: Botanas and Bar, La Terraza Rum & Lounge

Around the state

Winner: Silks Bar and Grill at Oaklawn (Hot Springs)

Finalists: Arsaga's at the Depot (Fayetteville), Gaskins Cabin Steakhouse (Eureka Springs), The Hive (Bentonville), Mike's Place (Conway)

Gluten-free

Little Rock

Winner: Dempsey Bakery

Finalists: Baja Grill, Big Orange, Cafe Bossa Nova, The Root Cafe

Around the state

Winner: The Preacher's Son (Bentonville)

Finalists: Crepes Paulette (Bentonville), Rolando's Restaurante (Hot Springs), Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe (Bentonville), ZAZA Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Co. (Conway)

Healthy

Little Rock

Winner: The Root Cafe

Finalists: @ the Corner, Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe, Three Fold Noodles and Dumpling Co., ZAZA Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Co.

Home cookin'

Little Rock

Winner: Homer's Restaurant

Finalists: Bobby's Country Cookin', Dixie Cafe, Franke's Cafeteria, Kitchen Express

Around the state

Winner: Holly's Country Cooking (Conway)

Finalists: Calico County (Fort Smith), Miss Anna's On Towson (Fort Smith), Monte Ne Inn (Rogers), Williams Soul Food Express (Bentonville)

Ice cream/cool treats

Little Rock

Winner: Loblolly Creamery

Finalists: Honey Pies, Le Pops Gourmet Ice Lollies, Red Mango, Shake's Frozen Custard

HEAVENLY: Star of India, winner in the buffet and Indian food categories.
  • HEAVENLY: Star of India, winner in the buffet and Indian food categories.

Indian

Little Rock

Winner: Star of India Restaurant

Finalists: 4square Cafe and Gifts, Banana Leaf, Taj Mahal

Around the state

Winner: Desi Den Indian Restaurant (Bryant)

Finalists: Flavors Indian Cuisine (Bentonville), India Orchard (Bentonville), Khana Indian Grill (Fayetteville), The New Delhi Cafe (Eureka Springs), Taste of India (Hot Springs)

Italian

Little Rock

Winner: Bruno's Little Italy

Finalists: Cafe Prego, Ciao Italian Restaurant, Ristorante Capeo, Vesuvio Bistro

Around the state

Winner: Bocca Italian eatery & pizzeria (Fayetteville)

Finalists: DeLuca's Pizzeria (Hot Springs), Ermilio's (Eureka Springs), Pasta Grill (Conway), Tavola Trattoria (Bentonville)

Japanese

Little Rock

Winner: Kemuri

Finalists: Igibon Japanese Food House, Kobe Japanese Steakhouse, Mt. Fuji Japanese Restaurant, Sushi Cafe

Around the state

Winner: Crazy Samurai (Hot Springs)

Finalists: Blu Fin Sushi Bar and Grill (Springdale), Meiji Japanese Cuisine (Fayetteville), Sushi House (Bentonville), Umami Sushi Lounge and Grill Fusion (Conway)

Mexican

Little Rock

Winner: La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant

Finalists: The Fold: Botanas and Bar, Heights Taco & Tamale Co., Local Lime, Senor Tequila

Around the state

Winner: Taco Mama (Hot Springs)

Finalists: El Acapulco (Conway), La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant (Hot Springs), San Miguel Mexican Grill (Fayetteville), Table Mesa (Bentonville)

Other ethnic

Little Rock

Winner: Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe

Finalists: Cafe Bossa Nova, kBird, Layla's Gyros and Pizzeria, La Terraza Rum & Lounge

Around the state

Winner: Rolando's Restaurante (Hot Springs)

Finalists: A Taste of Thai (Fayetteville), Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe (Bentonville), Steinhaus Keller (Hot Springs), Wiederkehr's Weinkeller Restaurant (Altus)

Outdoor dining

Little Rock

Winner: U.S. Pizza Hillcrest

Finalists: Brave New Restaurant, Ciao Baci, La Terraza Rum & Lounge, The Root Cafe

Pie

Little Rock

Winner: Honey Pies

Finalists: @ the Corner, Alley Oops, Bobby's Country Cookin', Community Bakery

Pizza

Little Rock

Winner: Damgoode Pies

Finalists: Pizza Cafe, Raduno Brick Oven & Barroom, U.S. Pizza, Vino's, ZAZA Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Co.

Around the state

Winner: DeLuca's Pizzeria (Hot Springs)

Finalists: Oven & Tap (Bentonville), The Rail (Rogers), Rod's Pizza Cellar (Hot Springs), Tommy's Famous (Mountain View)

Place for kids

Little Rock

Winner: Purple Cow Restaurant

Finalists: All Aboard Restaurant and Grill, Chuck E. Cheese's, Dave and Buster's, Larry's Pizza

Sandwich

Little Rock

Winner: Boulevard Bread Co.

Finalists: @ the Corner, Community Bakery, Jimmy's Serious Sandwiches, The Root Cafe

Around the state

Winner: Hammontree's Grilled Cheese (Fayetteville)

Finalists: Craig's Bar-B-Q (DeValls Bluff), Green Submarine (Fayetteville), Hugo's (Fayetteville), Natural State Sandwiches (Fayetteville)

Seafood

Little Rock

Winner: Flying Fish

Finalists: Brave New Restaurant, Cajun's Wharf, Eat My Catfish, Oceans at Arthur's

Around the state

Winner: Eat My Catfish (Bryant)

Finalists: Cafe Rue Orleans (Fayetteville), Dondie's White River Princess (Des Arc), Flying Fish (Bentonville), Mike's Place (Conway)

Steak

Little Rock

Winner: Arthur's Prime Steakhouse

Finalists: Doe's Eat Place, Sonny Williams' Steak Room, The Butcher Shop, The Faded Rose

Around the state

Winner: The Hive (Bentonville)

Finalists: Herman's Rib House (Fayetteville), Mike's Place (Conway), Postmasters Grill (Camden), Tamale Factory (Gregory)

Vegetarian/vegan

Little Rock

Winner: The Root Cafe

Finalists: Cafe Bossa Nova, kBird, Star of India Restaurant, Three Fold Noodles and Dumpling Co.

Around the state

Winner: Greenhouse Grille (Fayetteville)

Finalists: Cafe 1217 (Hot Springs), Farmer's Table (Fayetteville), Local Flavor Cafe (Eureka Springs), Thai Kitchen (Fayetteville)

Wine list

Little Rock

Winner: SO Restaurant-Bar

Finalists: Arthur's Prime Steakhouse, By the Glass, Copper Grill, Samantha's Tap Room & Wood Grill

Around the state

Winner: The Hive (Bentonville)

Finalists: 28 Springs (Siloam Springs), Bordinos (Fayetteville), Central Park Fusion Cuisine (Hot Springs), The Preacher's Son (Bentonville)

Yogurt/smoothies

Little Rock

Winner: Red Mango

Finalists: I Love Juice Bar, Tropical Smoothie, Yogurt Mountain

Best restaurants in areas around the state:

Benton/Bryant

Winner: Eat My Catfish

Finalists: Brown's Country Kitchen, Desi Den Indian Restaurant, La Hacienda, Pasta Jack's

Conway

Winner: Tacos 4 Life

Finalists: Eat My Catfish, Mike's Place, Pasta Grill, Umami Sushi Lounge & Grill Fusion, ZAZA'S Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Co.

Fayetteville/Springdale/Johnson

Winner: Hugo's (Fayetteville)

Finalists: Arsaga's at the Depot (Fayetteville), Bocca Italian Eatery (Fayetteville), Bordinos (Fayetteville), Greenhouse Grille (Fayetteville)

Hot Springs

Winner: DeLuca's Pizzeria

Finalists: Bleu Monkey, Cafe 1217, Cajun Boilers, Rolando's Restaurante

Rogers/Bentonville

Winner: The Hive (Bentonville),

Finalists: Oven & Tap (Bentonville), Pressroom (Bentonville), Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe (Bentonville), Tusk & Trotter (Bentonville)


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