Shorty Small's menu tells the tall tale of a short, fat man with a knack for charming the ladies who inherited a saloon from his inveterate pancake-flipper of a father. Since eating was Shorty's most cherished habit, his namesake kitchen piles plates high with tender, slide-off-the-bone ribs, pulled pork, and traditional catfish backed by the tastes of tangy barbecue sauce or peppery blackening spices. Five types of burgers crown hand-cut patties with bacon, mushrooms, or melted swiss cheese before old-fashioned desserts such as apple pie and blackberry cobbler anoint taste buds with more nostalgia than devouring a perfectly frosted photo album. Meanwhile, each smoky aroma finds its flavor pairing with an assortment of milk shakes, margaritas, and draught beers.
Corky's Ribs & BBQ must be doing something right. The southern barbecue has attracted celebrities such as Phoenix Suns coach Dan Majerle and running back Emmitt Smith, and its sought-after barbecue sauce is served in stores nationwide, except in stores that only sell big-and-tall pajama pants. People can't seem to resist Corky's signature Memphis-style ribs, which are hickory-smoked and slathered in the restaurant's secret blend of spices. The grill also slow cooks St. Louis-style pork ribs, chicken sandwiches, and fish, all of which are served with hearty southern sides.
All the steaks served at Western Sizzlin are first flame-kissed—cooked with flames licking both sides of the steak at once. As general manager Elgin Hamner states on the restaurant's website, this method preserves the flavors and juices of each slab, including the top-sirloin, rib-eye, filet-mignon, and T-bone steaks that populate the menu. Besides steaks, chefs prepare chicken breasts six different ways, including broiled or drizzled with teriyaki sauce, and they skim shrimp and salmon across the grill’s surface to the rhythm of "Gonna Fly Now (Theme from Rocky)." Diners can also tear into a cheeseburger or a philly steak sandwich underneath the antlered chandeliers that dangle from the ceiling.
The grill masters at The Steakhouse cook up an endless supply of skewered meats in the style of the churrascarias of their native Brazil. Like knights at a tailgate party, servers bear swords laden with top sirloin, pork ribs, and other flame-kissed proteins, and diners eat until their hungers have been completely sated ($25.99 for endless dinner). Not to be outshone by meaty morsels, the salad bar proffers gourmet veggies and sides, such as hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, and caprese salad. Freshly baked brazilian cheese bread mops up savory meat juices, and roasted pineapple with cinnamon and sugar regales diners with stories of spring breaks spent in Candy Land. At night during the warmer seasons, guests can venture to the outdoor patio to enjoy meals amid fresh air and dim candlelight.
Rock ‘N Tacos offers a menu bursting with California cuisine, from its signature fish tacos to tamales made by hand each day. Diners looking for fish tacos can choose from salmon and tilapia, which come covered in fresh guacamole, chorizo, the house's signature white sauce, and other traditional fixings. Various quesadillas sate the desires of cheese lovers, and burritos come stuffed with tons of savory ingredients and the customer's choice of meat.
French techniques and Southern soul elevate the traditional American dishes at 1620, a family-run establishment that accents its gauzy, intimate interior with vibrant original artwork. Named Best Romantic Restaurant in a 2010 KATV CityVoter poll, the restaurant comes courtesy of Chef Evette Brady and a staff that includes her nephew Timothy Morton, who can often be seen brainstorming that night's dinner specials over heaps of fresh meat and produce at local Little Rock markets. Globular wine glasses dangle over a full-service bar, where fine vinos from across the globe cleanse palates still savoring the Sunday-brunch menu, which sates stomachs with Southern fried chicken and lobster burgers.
Award-winning chef Donnie Ferneau serves artfully prepared, upscale entrees at his namesake restaurant. Though Ferneau imports daily fresh fish from around the globe, the restaurant also cooperates with local farmers to infuse dishes with regional flavors. Ferneau's dinner menu starts with an array of appetizers, including the A J Poki nachos ($15)—ahi tuna, spicy mayo, and cucumber sunomono crowned atop a plate of wonton chips. Next, munch on an arugula salad ($11) enlivened with apples, candied walnuts, and tangy goat cheese. Seafood solicitors can order the pan-seared grouper ($29), paired with pineapple and ginger relish, and meat mavens can feel as manly as a wooly-mammoth rodeo rider while digging into the 12-ounce rib-eye ($35), served on a bed of smashed potatoes. Elegant evenings are well-capped with a glass of Stags Leap merlot ($11) from Napa Valley or another fermented beverage from Ferneau's page-turning wine list.