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Best restaurants in Arkansas 2019

Our readers pick the best.

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STREET-STYLE TACOS: Get 'em at Dos Rocas. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • STREET-STYLE TACOS: Get 'em at Dos Rocas.

The readers of the Arkansas Times have once again pushed their plates away, belched politely and named the best restaurants, chefs and dishes and other categorical superlatives for our Readers Choice issue. They sent in their nominations, we added them up and the Times, trusting in their palates, now serve up the results for your dining pleasure.

For the second year in row, readers named Petit & Keet in West Little Rock the top restaurant and gave it the best wine list award, too. The "around the state" winner for overall best was DeLuca's Pizzeria Napoletano in Hot Springs, inspiring our feature on the face of pie in the Spa City.

Scott McGehee (of Big Orange, Heights Taco & Tamale and more) added to his many Readers Choice trophies with another best chef nod. Dos Rocas, the Mexican street food and bar in SoMa, won best new restaurant in Little Rock; read more about the restaurant in a feature here. Hot Springs' DeLuca's Pizzeria was the overall winner around the state; two other Spa City pizzerias, SQZBX and Grateful Head were runners-up for Best New around the state. Read about how Hot Springs is becoming a pizza town here.

Along with eatery and chef winners, you'll find here a list of the places our readers say you should give a shot when you've got a hankering for baked goods, barbecue, brunch, buffet, burgers and beyond.

AND THE WINNERS ARE...

Overall

Little Rock

Winner: Petit & Keet

Finalists: Big Orange, The Pantry, Samantha's Tap Room, South on Main

Around the state

Winner: DeLuca's Pizzeria (Hot Springs)

Finalists: The Hive (Bentonville), Local Lime (Rogers), Mike's Place (Conway), Wunderhaus (Conway)

New

Little Rock

Winner: Dos Rocas

Finalists: Cathead's Diner, Poke Hula, Sauce(d), Watercolor in the Park

Around the state

Winner: Local Lime (Rogers)

Finalists: 501 Prime (Hot Springs), Grateful Head Pizza (Hot Springs), Katmandu Momo (Conway), SQZBX (Hot Springs)

Chef

Little Rock

Winner: Scott McGehee (Big Orange, Heights Taco & Tamale Co., Local Lime, Lost Forty, ZAZA Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Co.)

Finalists: Matthew Bell (South on Main), Steven Binotti (Petit & Keet), Peter Brave (Brave New Restaurant), Payne Harding (Cache)

Around the state

Winner: Anthony Valinoti (DeLuca's Pizzeria, Hot Springs)

Finalists: Matthew Cooper (The Preacher's Son, Bentonville), Michael Dampier (The Ohio Club, Hot Springs), Matthew McClure (The Hive, Bentonville), Jacqueline Smith (WunderHaus, Conway)

Bakery

Little Rock

Winner: Community Bakery

Finalists: Boulevard Bread Co., Dempsey Bakery, Honey Pies, Rosalia's Family Bakery

Around the state

Winner: PattiCakes Bakery (Conway)

Finalists: Ambrosia Bakery (Hot Springs), Julie's Sweet Shoppe & Bakery (Conway), Rick's Bakery (Fayetteville), Serenity Farm Bread (Leslie)

Barbecue

Little Rock

Winner: Whole Hog Cafe

Finalists: Corky's BBQ, H.B.'s Bar-B-Q, Lost 40, Sims Bar-B-Que

Around the state

Winner: Fat Daddy's Bar-B-Que (Conway)

Finalists: Craig's Bar-B-Q (DeValls Bluff), Hog Pen BBQ (Conway), Penguin Ed's Bar-B-Que (Fayetteville), Wright's BBQ (Johnson)

Brunch

Little Rock

Winner: @ the Corner

Finalists: Lost Forty Brewing, Raduno, Red Door, The Root Cafe

Around the state

Winner: Pressroom (Bentonville)

Finalists: The Arlington Hotel (Hot Springs), Arsaga's at the Depot (Fayetteville), WunderHaus (Conway), ZAZA Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Co. (Conway)

Buffet

Little Rock

Winner: Star of India Restaurant and Bar

Finalists: Cathead's Diner, Franke's Cafeteria, Golden Corral, Tokyo House

Around the state

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

Finalists: Abe's Ole Feed House (Benton), Brown's Catfish (Russellville), Golden Corral (Conway)

Burger

Little Rock

Winner: Big Orange

Finalists: David's Burgers, District Fare, Petit & Keet, The Root Cafe

Around the state

Winner: Big Orange (Rogers)

Finalists: CJ's Butcher Boy Burgers (Russellville), David's Burgers (Conway),

Hugo's (Fayetteville), The Ohio Club (Hot Springs)

District Fare - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • District Fare

Business lunch

Little Rock

Winner: Cache Restaurant

Finalists: Brave New Restaurant, Capital Bar & Grill, Samantha's Tap Room & Wood Grill, Three Fold Noodles & Dumpling Co.

Around the state

Winner: Mike's Place (Conway)

Finalists: Arsaga's at the Depot (Fayetteville), Big Orange (Rogers), The Hive (Bentonville), Rolando's Restaurante (Hot Springs)

Butcher

Little Rock

Winner: District Fare

Finalists: Edwards Food Giant, Fresh Market, Hogg's Meat Market

Around the state

Winner: Weldon's Meat Market (Hot Springs)

Finalists: Paul's Meat Market (Fort Smith), Richard's Meat Market (Fayetteville)

Catfish

Little Rock

Winner: Eat My Catfish

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

Around the state

Winner: Eat My Catfish (Benton)

Finalists: Bubba's Catfish (Hot Springs), The Catfish Hole (Fayetteville), Flying Fish (Bentonville), Woods Place (Camden)

Chinese

Little Rock

Winner: Fantastic China

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

Around the state

Winner: China Town (Conway)

Finalists: Mulan (Conway), Jade China Restaurant (Conway), Madame Wu's Hunan Restaurant (Russellville), Oriental Gardens (El Dorado)

Coffee

Little Rock

Winner: River City Coffee

Finalists: Blue Sail Coffee; Boulevard Bread Co.; Guillermo's Coffee, Tea & Roastery; Mylo Coffee Co.

Around the state

Winner: Blue Sail Coffee (Conway),

Finalists: Arsaga's Fayetteville Coffee Roasters (Fayetteville), Jitterbug Coffeehouse (Heber Springs), Kollective Koffee (Hot Springs), Onyx Coffee Lab (Fayetteville)

Star of India - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Star of India

Deli/gourmet to go

Little Rock

Winner: District Fare

Finalists: Boulevard Bread Co., Catering to You, Community Bakery, Jason's Deli

Around the state

Winner: Cafe 1217 (Hot Springs)

Finalists: Cross Creek Sandwich Shop (Conway), Mean Bean Cafe (Conway), Pea Farm Bistro (Cabot)

Desserts

Little Rock

Winner: Loblolly Creamery

Finalists: Cache, Honey Pies, Petit & Keet, Trio's

Around the state

Winner: PattiCakes Bakery (Conway)

Finalists: Arsaga's at the Depot (Fayetteville), The Hive (Bentonville), Rolando's Restaurante (Hot Springs), WunderHaus (Conway)

Dog friendly

Little Rock

Winner: Bark Bar

Finalists: Fassler Hall, The Fold: Botanas and Bar, The Root Cafe, U.S. Pizza Hillcrest

Around the state

Winner: ZAZA Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Co. (Conway)

Finalists: Apple Blossom Brewery (Fayetteville), Crepes Paulette (Bentonville), The Farmer's Table Cafe (Fayetteville), Rolando's Restaurante (Hot Springs)

Food truck

Little Rock

Winner: Delta Biscuit Co.

Finalists: Excaliburger, Katmandu MoMo, Loblolly Creamery, Samantha's Taqueria II

Around the state

Winner: Hot Rod Wieners (Austin)

Finalists: Big D's BBQ and Catfish (Russellville), Crepes Paulette (Bentonville), Truckin' Delicious (Fort Smith), Wild Ginger (Conway)

French fries

Little Rock

Winner: Big Orange

Finalists: @ the Corner, Buffalo Grill, David's Burgers, The Pantry Crest

Around the state

Winner: Big Orange (Rogers)

Finalists: David's Burgers (Conway), Eat My Catfish (Benton), Feltner's Whatta-Burger (Russellville), Hugo's (Fayetteville)

Fried chicken

Little Rock

Winner: Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken

Finalists: Cathead's Diner, Flint's Just Like Mom's, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Maddie's Place

Around the state

Winner: Holly's Country Cooking (Conway)

Finalists: A.Q. Chicken House (Springdale*), Monte Ne Inn (Rogers), Old South Restaurant (Russellville), Slim Chickens (Conway)

Fun

Little Rock

Winner: Dave & Buster's

Finalists: Big Orange, Fassler Hall, The Fold: Botanas and Bar, Petit & Keet

Around the state

Winner: Big Orange (Rogers)

Finalists: Gaskins Cabin Steakhouse (Eureka Springs), The Hive (Bentonville), The Ohio Club (Hot Springs), Silks Bar and Grill at Oaklawn (Hot Springs)

Gluten-free

Little Rock

Winner: Dempsey Bakery

Finalists: Baja Grill, Big Orange, The Root Cafe, Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe

Around the state

Winner: ZAZA Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Co. (Conway)

Finalists: Hideaway Pizza (Conway), The Preacher's Son (Bentonville), Rolando's Restaurante (Hot Springs) Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe (Bentonville)

Delta Biscuit Co. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Delta Biscuit Co.

Healthy

Little Rock

Winner: The Root Cafe

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

Around the state

Winner: ZAZA Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Co. (Conway)

Finalists: Cafe 1217 (Hot Springs), Pea Farm Bistro (Cabot), Rolando's Restaurante (Hot Springs), WunderHaus (Conway)

Home cookin'

Little Rock

Winner: Homer's Restaurant

Finalists: Bobby's Country Cookin', Cathead's Diner, Franke's Cafeteria, Soul Fish Cafe

Around the state

Winner: Holly's Country Cooking (Conway)

Finalists: Hole in the Wall (Conway), Old South Restaurant (Russellville), Wagon Wheel Restaurant (Greenbrier)

Ice cream/cool treats

Little Rock

Winner: Loblolly Creamery

Finalists: Le Pops Gourmet Iced Lollies, Kilwins, Shake's Frozen Custard, ZAZA Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Co.

Around the state

Winner: ZAZA Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Co. (Conway)

Finalists: Andy's Frozen Custard (Conway), Daisy Queen (Marshall), Frozen Delite (Searcy), Las Delicias (Conway)

Indian

Little Rock

Winner: Star of India Restaurant and Bar

Finalists: Banana Leaf Indian Cuisine, The Indian Feast, Saffron, Taj Mahal

Taqueria El Palenque - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Taqueria El Palenque

Italian

Little Rock

Winner: Bruno's Little Italy

Finalists: Cafe Prego, Ciao, Raduno, Ristorante Capeo

Around the state

Winner: Pasta Grill (Conway)

Finalists: Bocca Italian eatery & pizzeria (Fayetteville), DeLuca's Pizzeria (Hot Springs), Ermilio's Italian Home Cooking (Eureka Springs), Luna Bella (Hot Springs)

Japanese

Little Rock

Winner: Kemuri

Finalists: Kobe Japanese Steakhouse, Mt. Fuji Japanese Restaurant, Sekisui, Sushi Cafe

Around the state

Winner: Umami Sushi Lounge & Grill Fusion (Conway)

Finalists: A1 Sushi (Hot Springs), Fuji's (Conway), Meiji Japanese Cuisine (Fayetteville), Sumo Sushi and Steak (Bryant)

Mexican

Little Rock

Winner: Local Lime

Finalists: The Fold: Botanas and Bar, Heights Taco & Tamale Co., La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant, Taqueria El Palenque

Around the state

Winner: Local Lime (Rogers)

Finalists: El Acapulco (Conway), La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant (Hot Springs), Table Mesa (Bentonville), Taco Mama (Hot Springs)

Other ethnic

Little Rock

Winner: kBird

Finalists: Buenos Aires Grill and Cafe, Layla's Gyros and Pizzeria, La Terraza Rum & Lounge, Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe

Around the state

Winner: WunderHaus (Conway)

Finalists: A Taste of Thai (Fayetteville), Katmandu Momo (Conway), Rolando's Restaurante (Hot Springs) Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe (Bentonville)

Outdoor dining

Little Rock

Winner: U.S. Pizza Hillcrest

Finalists: Brave New Restaurant, Buenos Aires Grill and Cafe, La Terraza Rum & Lounge, Petit & Keet

Honey Pies - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Honey Pies

Pie

Little Rock

Winner: Honey Pies

Finalists: @ the Corner, Alley Oops, Petit & Keet, Soul Fish Cafe

Around the state

Winner: Charlotte's Eats and Sweets (Keo)

Finalists: Fork and Crust (Rogers), Holly's Country Cookin' (Conway), PattiCakes (Conway), Stoby's Restaurant (Conway)

Pizza

Little Rock

Winner: ZAZA Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Co.

Finalists: Damgoode Pies, Pizza Cafe, Raduno, U.S. Pizza

Around the state

Winner: DeLuca's Pizzeria (Hot Springs)

Finalists: Hideaway Pizza (Conway), Rocky's Corner (Hot Springs), SQZBX (Hot Springs), Tommy's Famous (Mountain View)

Place for kids

Little Rock

Winner: All Aboard

Finalists: Big Orange, Chuck E. Cheese's, Dave & Buster's, Purple Cow

Sandwich

Little Rock

Winner: Boulevard Bread Co.

Finalists: Burges, District Fare, Jimmy's Serious Sandwiches, Paninis and Co.

Around the state

Winner: Cross Creek Sandwich Shop (Conway)

Finalists: Cafe 1217 (Hot Springs), Patio Cafe (Conway), Pea Farm Bistro (Cabot)

The Root Cafe - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • The Root Cafe

Seafood

Little Rock

Winner: Flying Fish

Finalists: Cache, Kemuri, Petit & Keet, Soul Fish Cafe

Around the state

Winner: Eat My Catfish (Conway)

Finalists: Luna Bella (Hot Springs) Mike's Place (Conway), Postmasters Grill (Camden), Who Dat's Cajun Restaurant (Bald Knob)

Steak

Little Rock

Winner: Doe's Eat Place

Finalists: Arthur's Prime Steakhouse, Faded Rose, Petit & Keet, Sonny Williams' Steak Room

Around the state

Winner: Mike's Place (Conway)

Finalists: Herman's Rib House (Fayetteville), Postmasters Grill (Camden), Tamale Factory (Gregory), Taylor's Steakhouse (Dumas)

Vegetarian/vegan

Little Rock

Winner: The Root Cafe

Finalists: Cafe Bossa Nova, The Fold: Botanas and Bar, Three Fold Noodles and Dumpling Co., ZAZA Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Co.

Around the state

Winner: Rolando's Restaurante (Hot Springs)

Finalists: The Farmer's Table Cafe (Fayetteville), Preacher's Son (Bentonville), Local Flavor Cafe (Eureka Springs), ZAZA Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Co. (Conway)

Wine list

Little Rock

Winner: Petit & Keet

Finalists: One Eleven, The Pantry Crest, Samantha's Taproom and Wood Grill, SO Restaurant-Bar

Around the state

Winner: Luna Bella (Hot Springs)

Finalists: The Hive (Bentonville), Mike's Place (Conway), Rolando's Restaurante (Hot Springs), The Preacher's Son (Bentonville)

Yogurt/smoothies

Little Rock

Winner: TCBY

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

Eat My Catfish - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Eat My Catfish

Best restaurants in areas around the state:

Benton/Bryant

Winner: Eat My Catfish

Finalists: Brown's Country Kitchen, Riviera Maya, Tacos 4 Life

Conway

Winner: Mike's Place

Finalists: Eat My Catfish, Hideway Pizza, Tacos 4 Life, Stoby's Restaurant

Eureka Springs

Winner: Ermilio's Italian Home Cooking

Finalists: Cafe Amore, Gaskins Cabin, Local Flavor, Mud Street Cafe

Fayetteville/Springdale/Johnson

Winner: Bordinos (Fayetteville)

Finalists: Arsaga's at the Depot (Fayetteville), The Farmer's Table Cafe (Fayetteville), Hugo's (Fayetteville), Taste of Thai (Fayetteville)

Hot Springs

Winner: DeLuca's Pizzeria

Finalists: Cafe 1217, Luna Bella, Rolando's Restaurante, SQZBX

Rogers/Bentonville

Winner: Local Lime (Rogers)

Finalists: Hammontree's Grilled Cheese (Rogers), The Hive (Bentonville), The Preacher's Son Cafe (Bentonville), Tusk & Trotter (Bentonville) 

*A previous version of this listing mistakenly placed A.Q. Chicken in Fayetteville instead of Springdale.

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