In our new blog series, Lunching in Little Rock, Michael Kirkpatrick will explore and review the city’s best restaurants – all in time to get back to the office. This week, Michael ate lunch at the Capitol Smokehouse & Grill, a barbecue joint at 915 W. Capitol Ave.
I love working in downtown Little Rock. I love being surrounded by small businesses, the Capitol building and international companies. I love being able to walk to most places, to feel like I am in a big city, but I usually see someone I know along the way. Downtown has a wide variety of food options for lunch and I love that one of those options is down-home Southern barbecue. One of my favorites within walking distance is the Capitol Smokehouse & Grill.
Capitol has a way of making you hungry before you even get there, as the smell of smoking meats draws you in. You’ll feel welcome as soon as you walk into the small restaurant; Mrs. Candy will greet you with a smile and often by name. Get in line, grab yourself a tray and silverware and be sure to check out the daily specials. Capitol serves a classic meat, two veggies and a roll plate lunch, but they’re happy to oblige special requests. The food is cooked fresh, served hot, arrives quickly and is priced fairly. Eat a great home-cooked meal and go back to work feeling just a little sleepy.
My lunch partner today is my friend and coworker Patrick Laughlin. Pat loves his veggies, and Capitol can load his plate with their large selection. His favorites are baked beans, pan-fried potatoes, fried okra and fresh greens. He usually ends up mixing some of them together, scooping them up with a buttery roll, and calling it a great invention of gastronomy.
Feeling famished from the four-block walk, I go for the barbecue ribs with a healthy portion of macaroni and cheese and fried okra. (Mac and cheese counts as a vegetable, right?) The jalapeno corn bread adds some heat and homemade lemonade cools it off. The ribs are smoked in-house and have plenty of flavor on their own, if you prefer dry barbecue, but they also have three types of sauces ranging from mild to hot. The hot burns, but will keep you coming back for more. Rolls of paper towels at each table can save a little of your dignity. If you have enough room, grab the banana pudding sitting on top of the checkout counter. You know you want it.
Downtown Little Rock is a big-little city like no other and I love working here. Walking to a world-class barbecue place at lunch is one reason I love it. At the Capitol Smokehouse & Grill, you can eat in or carry out, and they even offer catering. Be sure to grab their punch card for a free lunch, because you’ll be back. Enjoy the city’s sights on your walk back to the office, as they’ll help you digest some of that mac and cheese.
photo courtesy Paul Barrow/Capitol Smokehouse & Grill