The Department of Arkansas Heritage has announced the finalists for the 2018 Arkansas Food Hall of Fame. All entrants had to be nominated by the public and be an Arkansas-based restaurant open at least 25 consecutive years:
- Franke’s Cafeteria of Little Rock
- Feltner’s Whatta-Burger of Russellville
- Doe’s Eat Place of Little Rock
- Kream Kastle of Blytheville
- McClard’s Bar-B-Q Restaurant of Hot Springs
- Bruno’s Little Italy of Little Rock
- White House Café of Camden
- Ed Walker’s Drive-In of Fort Smith
- Neal’s Café of Springdale
- Dixie Pig of Blytheville
- The Venesian Inn of Tontitown
- DeVito’s of Eureka Springs
Up to three winners will be selected on March 6 at the Ron Robinson Theater in the River Market. Last year’s inaugural class was Jones Bar-B-Q Diner in Marianna, Lassis Inn in Little Rock and Rhoda’s Famous Hot Tamales in Lake Village. The judges will also name the Proprietor of the Year, Food Event of the Year, People’s Choice, and the “Gone but not Forgotten” award honoring an Arkansas restaurant that is no longer open.
Big changes are coming to The Fold. The restaurant will close on Jan. 29 and remained closed until at least Feb. 7 for renovations. Owner Bart Barlogie filled me in on the upgrades:
“We are completely ripping out the existing front bar and back bar. We are replacing the front bar with a Perlick, Tobin Ellis modular bar system. Really cool stuff that I’m super pumped about. This should speed the bar up substantially. The bar top is getting replaced with a Carrera Quartz top. It will also be wider to be more spacious for our guests. On the back bar, we are adding wine on tap as well as 6 draft beer options.
“We are tearing down the existing FRP (plastic material on walls) and replacing with new tiling. We are also knocking a wall down. The flooring is getting ripped up and replaced with a special concrete-like material that won’t hold grease and other dirty material. We are also replacing the ceiling with all new tiles as well.”
It sounds like The Fold will have a brand new look once it reopens. Just to keep you from missing them too much, The Fold will have ongoing taco and margarita specials leading up to next week’s closing. Be sure to follow The Fold’s Facebook page daily to see what is being offered.
Cathead’s Diner is probably the most anticipated opening for a restaurant in 2018, and co-owners Donnie Ferneau and Kelli Marks are making sure you don’t forget about them. On Feb. 10, Cathead’s Diner will hold a can’t-miss pop-up dinner at Deluca’s Pizzeria Napoletana in Hot Springs. If you’ve read Rock City Eats long (or just about any other food publication in town), you know that Deluca’s has some of the best food in the state, bar none. So far, the only dish we know for sure will be a donut cannoli pizza from Marks. Expect more creative and enjoyable dishes to be announced soon. There are no tickets, but you’d be well advised to call ahead and make reservations if you plan on going.
The Root Café has put in a lot of work in expanding and updating its digs, and now it is receiving some much-deserved recognition. The Root won the Best Adaptive Re-use/Infill Project Award at the Main Street Arkansas Awards. These awards honor businesses around the state that do good work in the downtown districts of cities and towns around the state. Other restaurants honored include Chow at 118 in Paragould for Best New Downtown Restaurant and Ozark Beer Company in Rogers.
African food is finally available right now in Central Arkansas. We stopped by Kontiki African Restaurant for a taste of authentic Sierra Leone cuisine.
One of Central Arkansas’ original chocolatiers is still going strong. We spoke with Carmen Portillo of Cocoa Belle Chocolates on how her move to Saline County let her keep her business growing.
[ecs-list-events limit=’8′ excerpt=’300′ ecs-list-events venue=’true’ contentorder=’date,title,venue, excerpt’]