Sufficient Grounds Cafe’s crew of baristas fills a.m. energy tanks with a menu bursting with delicious morning brews, breakfast and lunch fare, and tasty sweets. Staffers begin each morning by brewing up delicious coffee blends from around the world, as the espresso machine whirs into caffeinated action. Brew-thusiasts start with a base of espresso, mix in milk or soy, and stamp the potation with the dulcet taste of Torani syrups for decadent mochas or the signature Milky Way infused with chocolate and caramel. During the summer, when the days get longer and the southern hemisphere gets a bikini wax, patrons can sit on the open-air patio, surfing the year-round free WiFi while noshing on freshly made breakfast sandwiches, wraps, or pastries. The café boasts two convenient Little Rock locations, but if schedules are tight or legs have low battery power, free delivery is available within downtown.
Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine’s 2012 Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. As the shop’s reputation grew, so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&Ms, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies, and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real show-stoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
Owner Amman Abbasi blends beats from his ancestral homeland with samples of flavors more easily recognizable to the generally monolingual American palate. Commence naan-breaking with naan ($1.25), veggie samosas ($2.50), or crispy lentil wafers ($1.50). Americanize a meal with a chicken tikka wrap rolled with spicy chutney in toasted naan ($6.49), or a burger of finely minced beef and yogurt cilantro chutney ($5.99). Keep it real with chicken qorma in curry and mild spices ($7.99) or karahi gosht, mutton stewed in curried tomatoes, ginger, yogurt, and succulent self-pity ($8.99). Of course there are plenty of ways to keep it meatless too, whether that be a masala of okra ($6.49) or the cheese-and-spinach-spangled palak paneer ($5.49).
Red Mango's frozen yogurt has been garnering national attention for more than five years, unlike that musician strumming away next to the foosball table in his basement. The shop earned a place atop Zagat's 2011 lists for Best Smoothie and Frozen Yogurt Chain and Best Healthy Options Among Quick Refreshment Chains. Red Mango showcases its award-winning reputation by dishing up all-natural and gluten-free yogurts—all of which are either low-fat or nonfat—that promote healthy digestive and immune systems with natural probiotics. Friendly staff members are always on hand to whip Ghirardelli dark chocolate, POM pomegranate juice, and seasonal pumpkin spice frozen yogurts into Stevia-sweetened smoothies or parfaits layered with organic granola and fruit. The toppings bar brims with crunchy cereal, cheesecake bits, and nuts, allowing creative customization.
While most of us sleep, Montego Cafe’s wings marinate overnight in a specially prepared jerk seasoning to perfectly spice tongues during the next day’s feasts. The chefs craft the rest of the café’s authentic and fusion Caribbean dishes with equal patience, sautéing gulf shrimp or white-meat chicken in a signature curry sauce and crowning Angus beef burgers named for Bob Marley with plantains and habanero aioli. Bartenders complement bites with island specialty drinks such as a signature jamaican rum punch made with Malibu coconut rum and Bacardi Superior. When night falls and a new batch of wings starts marinating, the café hosts karaoke nights, DJ sets, and performances by its house band Synergy, whose musicianship outshines that of their rival group, Let’s Try Playing Our Instruments at the Same Time.
Described by the Arkansas Times as a "big-and-sloppy burger, fries, and onion rings joint," Burger Mama's chefs prepare homestyle meals at the restaurant's new location on Cantrell Road. Though burgers come standard with generous portions of mayo, mustard, and veggies, diners can upgrade their sandwiches with add-ons such as pepper jack cheese, bacon, grilled onions, and gnome hats. Catfish fillets sizzle in baskets, flanked by side dishes such as fried okra or onion rings. In a review of the burger joint, another Arkansas Times reporter noted that chefs incorporate "what seems like a pint of ice cream in thick, enormous homemade milk shakes."