With a reputation that includes titles such as the "Pie Guy" and "The Man Who Made 100 Different Pies in One Night," it's no great surprise that Chris Monroe—a dedicated pie lover and enthusiast—runs Hunka Pie. Open since 2007, the restaurant is dedicated to small-batch and handcrafted pies that boast flaky, hand-rolled crusts and are made without the preservatives found in big-batch bakeries. Equipped with the childhood pie memories and experience of growing up with three generations of pie makers, Chris claims the "largest selection of handcrafted pie in Arkansas." And judging from his list, he may be right. Interesting flavors such as chocolate hazelnut baklava and peach with rum glaze pop out alongside classic combinations such as southern pecan and key lime.
But though Chris and Hunka Pie specialize in pie, they also bring their A-game to breakfast, lunch, and dinner food, as well. They tout classic and creative burgers made with a third-pound of ground beef, some seasoned with secret spices, and others with more exotic flavors. The bombay burger adds garam masala to the mix, and the turkey burger's patty is seasoned with herbs. And though the restaurant was once relegated to a small drive-in counter, the restaurant's new digs invite patrons to sit and relax in the classic chrome and red of a former diner.
Now an international brand of premium ice cream, Häagen-Dazs began as a humble, family-owned business in the Bronx. In the 1920's, Reuben Mattus sold his mother's fruit ices and ice-cream pops out of a horse-drawn wagon. For decades, the family business thrived, and around 1960, Reuben officially founded Häagen-Dazs. He chose the name to evoke Old World traditions and quality craftsmanship, the bedrocks of the brand. Originally, the ice cream came in just three flavors—vanilla, chocolate, and coffee—made from fine ingredients gathered from around the world, such as Belgian dark chocolate, hand-picked vanilla beans from Madagascar, and ice shaved from lunar glaciers. The resulting confections so delighted sweet teeth that the brand grew exponentially, leading to the creation of dozens of flavors and forays into sorbets and frozen yogurts.
Though Häagen-Dazs ice cream was immensely popular in grocery shops, their first parlor didn't open until 1976. Not far from the Mattus family's original ice-cream beat, the Brooklyn store sold ice cream as well as treats such as sundaes, shakes, and cakes. Shops eventually dotted the country and globe, wherein friendly ice-cream scoopers fill waffle cones, blend frosty coffee and ice-cream drinks, and wrap ice-cream cakes in bright ribbons.
When he cofounded his first sandwich shop in 1965, 17-year-old Fred DeLuca planned to use his profits to pay his way through medical school. But the combination of quality ingredients and friendly service at the shop—then called Pete's Subway—proved so popular that nine years later, he and his partner found themselves in charge of 16 locations across Connecticut, and Fred left behind his doctoring plans for a career in business.
Today, Subway boasts more than 34,000 locations around the world—almost as many shops as there are sightings of Elvis buying cold cuts. At each location, staffers pile sliced ham, marinara-slathered meatballs, and other fillings into halved loaves of bread before customizing handhelds with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and other healthy toppings plucked from chilled containers behind the counter. Salads free crisp veggies from bread's overprotective embrace, and crunchy baked chips or apple slices accompany entrees to tables. Subway’s website also facilitates health-conscious eating by listing each item's nutritional information and fastest mile time online.
The Executive chef operates under the mantra that it's not the spice level but the delicacy, freshness, and wielding of the spices that makes a meal sing. He flaunts his seasoning skills with specialty tandoori entrees, which are forged through a cooking process that combines grilling, baking, and mesquite charcoal smoking. After de-fatting the meats, chicken, and fish to make each dish healthier, he marinates the proteins for hours in homemade yogurt and ginger, forces them to watch a powerpoint presentation about how to taste good, then fires them in an imported clay oven at more than 450 degrees.
Whether diners are sipping cocktails or sampling homemade paneer cheese from the buffet, the dining room's décor infuses the experience with a sense of elegance. Golden and cinnamon-hued curtains, dramatic sponge-painted arches, and ornate chandeliers accentuate carefully curated wall alcoves, which are populated with gold vases and elephant statuettes.
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.
El Porton Mexican Restaurant has sated cravings for fresh, healthy ingredients for more than two decades, serving up authentic Mexican lunches and dinners that complement the bar’s array of 85 tequilas. Amid golden walls that evoke a warm afternoon in a tropical cantina, guests kick-start stomachs by watching chefs craft lime-infused guacamole tableside. From the kitchen, beef and shrimp fajitas sizzle, wafting aromas of onion and bell pepper that transform into cartoon hands to lure in noses. Warm days open El Porton's patio, where sunshine heightens the flavors of make-your-own combo platters spread with chile rellenos, tostadas, and burritos, as well as USDA steaks aged a minimum of 21 days. Tequila shots arrive in flights or individually, and customizable margaritas in flavors such as mango and classic lime pour forth from salt-rimmed glasses to accentuate entrees and fuel conversations about Mexico's hidden agave rivers.