You might as well call At the Corner the Queen of Little Rock Breakfast. For more than three years, the downtown diner has served office workers and weekend shoppers in the morning and afternoon, but it’s been breakfast and brunch that have truly put the restaurant on the map. Now, At the Corner fans don’t have to beat the clock for their favorite meal, because breakfast is on the menu all day, every day.
The decision to expand its breakfast hours was one that developed slowly. Although you might have seen your Facebook feed complain that there’s not enough good breakfast options around town, that hasn’t necessarily translated into long lines of folks willing to pay for that first meal. But over time, At the Corner’s reputation for providing a quality breakfast menu has grown, and now owners Helen Grace King, Leila King and Kamiya Merrick feel that Little Rock is ready.
“We saw the demand on the weekend, we’ve had our fans say, ‘Come on!’” said Helen Grace King. “We’ve had families come in at 11:30 and all they want are eggs and bacon for the kids. We’ve had to say ‘no’ to that, and now we can say ‘yes’.
For a while, I really don’t think Little Rock was ready for this, you know, a creative breakfast menu that goes just beyond bacon and eggs and omelets. We’ve had to build that trust, and after about a year and a half we started gaining that trust.”
Not every item from breakfast makes it onto the new menu, but plenty of fan favorites do make it on. The Cowboy Breakfast, arguably At the Corner’s most popular dish, was a shoe-in for the all-day menu, and for good reason. At the Corner makes one of the best versions of biscuits and gravy you will find in Little Rock, and the kitchen tops them off with a soft fried egg and fried chicken tenders. This is a dish that showcases some of the creativity the restaurant plays with while staying firmly grounded in comfort food familiarity.
And some breakfast menu items made the all-day line-up just because they make sense. The Avocado Toast, topped with a fried egg and served with fresh fruit, wouldn’t be out of place on a lunch menu at any café or bistro around town. Fresh avocado on Texas toast makes for a light meal or midday snack that won’t leave you feeling stuffed. And the Sampler of the South features many items that are served on other dishes, like bacon, home fries, eggs and biscuits. It doesn’t hurt that the sampler plate features some of the creamiest grits you can find anywhere in the city.
Lunch fans, fret not. At the Corner has not forgotten about you. My current favorite on the lunch menu is the Riverside Salad, with chicken, granola, strawberries and homemade ricotta. That would be enough, but the sweet tea vinaigrette (you read that right) just pushes this dish over the top. This one is a contender for best salad in Central Arkansas. At the Corner also features a classic ham-and-turkey club with home fries that will please traditionalists. And for a more filling option, you shouldn’t miss the new Tomato Jam Burger. At the Corner has always done burgers well, and topping the burger with a tart, sweet tomato jam was just a wonderful idea.
“We don’t have time to worry about what other restaurants are doing!” laughed owner Leila King. “We’re so busy with our customers and with what we’re trying to put out, that we don’t really compare ourselves to anybody else.” There is something to be said for a strong, women-led restaurant that delivers what its guests want without sacrificing the creative spark that makes it special. It takes confidence and energy to make a menu move this bold; breakfast all day is hardly a common feature. But given At the Corner’s self-awareness and talent, it won’t be a surprise if they pull it off.