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What's cooking/updates Jan. 26

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What's cooking

Fayetteville has seen several restaurant changes in recent weeks:
Chloe and Cable Car Pizza, which were both just off Dickson Street on Campbell Avenue, moved out of their spots to make way for Theo’s, which reportedly is the hottest upscale restaurant in town since it opened in the fall. Chloe, a fine-dining steak and seafood restaurant, has moved out to a strip center at Crossover and Joyce Street, near the Northwest Arkansas Mall. Cable Car Pizza, meanwhile, moved to the ever-growing East Fayetteville area where Crossover (Highway 265) meets Highway 45, on East Citizens Drive. Both restaurants are open for lunch and dinner daily.
Hog Haus Brewing Co. opened where the former Ozark Brewpub was located on Dickson Street. A new Shogun Japanese steakhouse is planned for a space near the Northwest Arkansas Mall. Other new restaurants in the market include The Rice Village, a sushi restaurant; Emilia’s Kitchen, and Sodie’s Fountain Grill.

Updates: New restaurants

CHOO-CHOO CAFE Don’t be misled by the name; the location inside a Shell convenience store or the jumbled commercial stretch in North Little Rock on which this little eatery sits. A meal here is a trip to another place. The operators for two months now have been Korean and, amid the chicken wings, burritos and other standard convenience store fried fare, are a couple of authentic Korean dishes and sushi, all made to order with what seems, on our limited experience, to be a great deal of care. We went for the $7.95 Korean box. It’s served in a compartmented, lacquered tray, the main event a pile of stir-fried flank steak strips in a sweet sauce and dusted with sesame seeds. It comes with sticky rice, salad with a mild dressing, a couple of fried gyoza (meat-filled dumplings) and two California rolls stuffed with the usual crab, avocado and cucumber. There’s a well for mixing soy sauce and wasabi. We had some egg rolls, too. They were fine, but nothing special. Korean beef is also served in a bowl with vegetables and noodles for $4.95. The sushi list covers all the usual stops, from smoked eel to yellowtail to tuna to fried softshell crab. The sushi runs about $1 a piece on average, in various combinations, and is served artfully on a small pedestal, an incongruous touch in the barebones setting. Because each dish, other than those in the lineup of fried foods, is prepared to order and the kitchen is a one-man show, you can expect a short wait for food. But drink refills are free and the operators are friendly and solicitous to a fault, perhaps encouraged by the Korean Bible that lies open by the cash register. 1920 Maumelle Boulevard, NLR. 812-0866. BLD Mon.-Fri., LD Sat. $. CC.

JOSE’S MEXICAN GRILL AND CANTINA There’s a lot of competition for your Mexican food dollar in Hot Springs. You have your historic locals and a bunch of new popular national chains popping up all along Central Avenue. We ventured to Jose’s, a new kid on the block, but one we discovered that has some history, too. Jose’s is named for the owner, Jose Soto. He’s been in the restaurant business for about 20 years and owns Amigo Juan in Hope and Texarkana. Finding Jose’s here can be tricky. It is way out Central (Highway 7), past the mall, past SunBay Resort, past the two bridges, past Baymount, but just a little more and you’re there, a pretty far piece off the beaten restaurant row. Our late Saturday night trip, just a half hour before closing, still had a few tables going and a (small) back bar full of customers. Two guys were strumming guitars for the drinkers, who have the option of sitting on a few saddles perched atop bar stool posts. The interior is festive with brightly colored vinyl table covers and murals on the wall. Our 9-year-old found Dora peeking out from behind a column on the art. Two in our group shared the chicken and beef combo fajitas, which featured plenty of meat seasoned better than we’ve had elsewhere. And we tried a No. 7 combination that really stood out: two tacos, burrito, rice and beans for a price that usually comes with one taco at other places. The ground beef had excellent flavor. And you can choose your own sauce, such as cheese, on the burrito for no extra cost. We’re sure there are other good surprises on the menu that covers all your Mexican wants. If not, they have burgers, too. 5361 Central Ave., 525-9797, LD Mon.-Sat., $-$$ CC Full Bar.

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