At the end of each month, I look back at all the wonderful things eaten over the past thirty days. Here are my Top 10 Dishes in July.
Fried Catfish Sandwich at Andy’s
Andy’s, where have you been all my life? Apparently, the restaurant serves some mean biscuits and gravy, but at this point, I can only vouch for the fried catfish sandwich. But oh, can I vouch for it. A white bread bun comes loaded with cornmeal-coated fried catfish strips. Snap off a protruding piece of fish to sample it before diving into the rest of the sandwich. Add a slice of American cheese for an optimal experience.
Fried Zucchini Appetizer at Ciao Baci
Here’s another example of a perfect fry job. Ciao Baci’s fried zucchini seasonal appetizer is so simple and delicious. There really is nothing like taking a quality, local ingredient—like zucchini—deep frying it, and then adding a topper of marinara. Gobble up an order of two with a glass of wine on the restaurant’s side patio.
Wings at Lost Forty Brewing
Smokey, meaty, and just plain tasty, Lost Forty Brewing’s chicken wings are a hit. I love when places smoke wings, then give them a quick flash fry at the end. At Lost Forty, the beer pairing options seem endless, but I found the light and refreshing Second Rodeo to be a nice one.
Filet at The Grumpy Rabbit
Hey, not every dish has to be a super creative masterpiece. Sometimes you just want a hunk of beef grilled just right, as was the case with The Grumpy Rabbit’s filet. This 6-ounce cut of beef tenderloin is topped with a rich mushroom demi-glace and served with mashed potatoes. Ask for it medium rare.
Vanilla Choux au Craquelin at PattiCakes Bakery (downtown location)
Transport yourself straight to France with a bite of PattiCakes Bakery’s Vanilla Choux au Craquelin, a well-executed, and I mean well-executed, vanilla cream puff. Cut one in half so you can truly appreciate the amount of filling, but also because you’ll never be able to finish an entire cream puff in one sitting.
Bone-in Ribeye at Taylor’s Steakhouse
If there’s a better steak in all of Arkansas, I have not found it. Taylor’s Steakhouse, or specifically, co-owner and grill master Chuck Taylor, is the man behind the magic. A lengthy dry-aging process yields a beautifully marbled ribeye, that, once cooked, hits the table swimming in its own juices. Again, like the filet above, you really need to order this steak medium rare.
Farmer’s Market Splendor at Trio’s
It’s summertime, which means one of Little Rock’s most iconic dishes — Trio’s Farmer’s Market Splendor — is back on the menu for the next few months. The dish changes based on what co-owner Capi Peck can procure from local markets, but its most recent rendition included purple hull peas with side of tomato relish, a ramekin of creamy squash gratin and cornmeal battered fried okra. There’s also a small square of slightly sweet cornbread and some Esau’s corn, cut straight from the cob. Thick slabs of heirloom tomatoes with fresh mozzarella, basil, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar complete the plate.
Biscuits & Tomato Gravy at Esters
While most folks are familiar with the creamy version, this seasonal spin (which is actually a Southern staple as well) with its thick, peppery tomato gravy, is every bit as enjoyable. Currently available on Esters Sunday brunch menu, the biscuits & tomato gravy pairs nicely with a side of tofu scramble.
Fried Chicken Sandwich at The Prickly Pickle
The fried chicken sandwich from The Prickly Pickle will make you forget about the other more popular versions from fast food chains. A crispy, juicy fried chicken filet on a white bread bun, iceberg lettuce, tomato, and thick-cut slices of dill pickles will do that.
Pork Lo Mein at Fantastic China
Talk about comfort food, the pork lo mein at Fantastic China always hits the spot. A pile of noodles laced with bits of pork, carrot, and green onion is best ordered as part of the restaurant lunch combination menu, which also comes with rice, an egg roll, and a cup of soup. I recommend the wonton soup.