Dining » Dining Review

A diner that's the real deal

Littlefield's on JFK.

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THREE EGGS IN THE MORNING: Littlefield's omelete comes with a fluffy biscuit.
  • THREE EGGS IN THE MORNING: Littlefield's omelete comes with a fluffy biscuit.

Nothing against haute cuisine, high-end fusion or the latest dimly lit small plate restaurant, but diner counters are our jam.

A childhood of watching "Alice" and an adulthood of insomnia-filled nights have added up to diners being our comfort zone. We suppose there's something about people who choose a diner counter — instead of a table — that green-lights an invitation to easy conversation between folks who are otherwise strangers. Give us a wise-cracking waitress, a chatty new friend on the next stool and a bottomless cup of coffee any day. 

In our trips to diners around the country, we've seen no end of "themed" choices. 1950s-themed joints in San Francisco. Poutine-centered places in New Hampshire. Vegan-friendly haunts in Austin. They all have their own enjoyable charm and personalities, but our go-to favorite is an honest-to-goodness place that avoids a contrived theme and just serves up the eggs.

In the immortal words of Ron Swanson: "I'm a simple man. I like pretty, dark-haired women and breakfast food."

For diner fans like us, Littlefield's Cafe in North Little Rock is the real deal. Open for breakfast and lunch (and for dinner on Friday), it's the kind of unpretentious eatery that caters to those who prioritize hot and tasty over hip and trendy. The crowd is a motley mix of blue-collar workers scanning the paper, relaxed tables of retirees drinking coffee and swapping lies, and parents stopping in with teenagers for breakfast before school. 

A centerpiece of any good diner is breakfast, and Littlefield's has breakfast down pat. The "Littlefield's Special" (eggs, bacon or sausage, hash browns, and toast or biscuit) is a recommended treat for those who can spend some time savoring breakfast. The biscuits are warm, fluffy and generously drenched in peppered sausage gravy. We also sampled Littlefield's three-egg Western omelette —packed with ham, bacon and sausage, and tasty despite being a little light on the onions and green peppers.

Upon return for a lunchtime visit, we were happily offered a plate lunch special of some of the best chicken and dressing in recent memory. Hot, tender and savory, it was accompanied by surprisingly tasty green beans along with yam patties that perhaps could have used a bit more flavor. Littlefield's also offers a good mix of burgers, sandwiches (Reuben, fried bologna and Philly cheese steak), alongside other diner standards.

UNPRETENTIOUS: Littlefield's, in a parking lot off JFK.
  • UNPRETENTIOUS: Littlefield's, in a parking lot off JFK.

Friday nights are the one night Littlefield's is open for dinner (and live gospel music), so we gathered a crew of friends and our favorite little 4-year-old pal R.J. for a test run that started with fried pickles and potato wedges. If you like fried pickles already, you're in for a tart and salty treat, but the non-fans weren't converted. The potato wedges were generously sliced and flavorful, although a tad undercooked.

For dinner, solid thumbs-ups were given for the catfish special — seasoned well and fried to perfection, a deliciously breaded chicken-fried steak with cream gravy and a generous slab of hamburger steak with brown gravy. One companion was complimentary of the chicken in her fried chicken salad, but noted that the salad greens themselves were not as fresh as she might have liked. 

 For dinner, Littlefield's also offers pork chops, chicken-fried chicken and a pork fritter. The child's menu includes chicken strips, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese, hot dogs and hamburgers. 

It's worth noting that the waitstaff at Littlefield's is a very friendly, down-to-earth and comfortable crew. For instance: Our little pal R.J. seemed well-pleased with her macaroni and cheese choice, then announced that she was going off to help herself to a popsicle. She must have charmed the waitstaff, because she soon happily returned with a dish of ice cream and chocolate syrup of her own. To avoid the sheer rudeness of having the little one eat dessert alone, we ordered up an array of Littlefield's homemade pies — a sublime slab of coconut cream pie plus one each of the fried chocolate and fried apricot offerings. Each was fantastic and served as an outstanding exclamation point on our meal.

Worth noting: One will be especially pleased with the prices at Littlefield's. Budget-conscious eaters can expect solid portions at exceptionally reasonable prices, whether at breakfast, lunch or dinner. 

Littlefield's has reportedly just celebrated its 5-year anniversary, which is a milestone for success in a field where restaurants frequently have grand openings and muted closings on dates that are terribly close together. Observations from the Littlefield's diner counter reveal an easy rapport between cafe staff and a crowd of regulars, with the kind of easy back-and-forth that exists in a community where people grew up together and know to ask after each other's mommas. 

In short, Littlefield's Cafe is exactly the kind of place your Memaw might have opened if she had a little more ambition and working capital. Comfort food, friendly people and a place where folks come to get a good meal instead of coming to "be seen." If you're a diner guy like us, you'll enjoy a trip (and a repeat trip) to Littlefield's.

Littlefield's Cafe
6929 JFK Blvd.
North Little Rock
771-2036

Quick bite

This place is set pretty far back in a parking lot off JFK, so it's easy to miss if you're not careful. Breakfast is usually pretty busy, especially on weekends, so give yourself some time. Daily plate lunch specials are definitely worth asking about. Littlefield's isn't open for dinner except for Friday nights — come for the fried catfish special and live gospel music.

Hours
7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Other info
Beer and wine available, as well as Littlefield's "signature Mimosa." Credit/debit cards accepted.

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