The Bowman area is mostly chain restaurants and big box shops (like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Whole Foods, Staples and Bed Bath and Beyond) and chain restaurants. There are a few really good local places if you know where to look.
- Purple Cow: The Purple Cow is a great family diner with your typical burgers, fries, BLTs and other sandwiches. The fun diner atmosphere makes it a great place to bring the kids, and the menu is very kid-friendly. They are known for their killer milkshakes and ice cream desserts. Located at 11602 Chenal Parkway, 501-224-4433.
- El Porton: Many say that El Porton is the best Mexican food in the city. If not the best, it’s pretty good. It’s not really Tex-Mex, as much as it is Americanized Mexican, but you’ll find enchiladas, burritos and everything you’d expect to find in a Mexican restaurant on the menu. Located at5507 Ranch Dr # 1, 501-868-7333.
- Ally Oops: Ally-Oops has a Cajun-inspired menu with burgers, po boys, salads and fish. They also have a few Mexican choices. It’s a great spot to stop for lunch. Check out their Saturday brunch too. Located at 11900 Kanis Road, 501-221-9400
- The Butcher Shop: This steakhouse displays the meat so you can choose your own cut. They’ve been around for quite a while and if you’re looking for a decent, but reasonably priced steak (the restaurant is a bit pricey, but not as pricey as other steakhouses), it’s a good choice. If steak isn’t your thing, the menu also has chicken and pasta. Located at 10825 Hermitage Road, 501-312-2748.
- Bobby’s Country Cookin’: A little bit further away from Bowman from the others, this meat and two sides kitchen is always packed for lunch (Monday through Friday from 10:30 to 2:00 p.m.). The specials change every day, but they always have great fried chicken. Don’t forget to try their pie, but it sells out quickly. Located at 301 N Shackleford Rd, 501-224-9500.
Chenal is trendy, hip and new. Most of the restaurants in this area haven’t been around for very long, but they are making a mark in Little Rock.
- YaYa’s Euro Bistro: YaYa’s is located in the Promenade. They are upscale casual, with pizza, pasta, steak and seafood with European flavors on the menu. Great brunch. Located at 17711 Chenal Pkwy,501-821-1144.
- Local Lime: Local Lime is upscale Tex-Mex, but they mostly focus on tacos. Local Lime’s menu features tacos, fajitas and small plates. They have some very unique taco styles and pride themselves on using fresh local ingredients. They have a great bar selection too. Local Lime is also located in the Promenade at 17809 Chenal Parkway (they are close to the movie theater), 501-448-2226.
- Oceans/Arthur’s: These two restaurants are connected. Ocean’s is an upscale fish and sushi restaurant and Arthur’s is an upscale steakhouse. The sushi at Ocean’s is some of the best in the city, and the other fish dishes are always fresh and innovative. Arthur’s is a favorite special occasion restaurant with white table clothes and upscale decor. They serve Wagyu and Kobe beef along with more traditional cuts of USDA Prime. Both restaurants are pricey, but probably worth it. Located at 27 Rahling Circle, 501-821-1828.
- NYPD Pizza: NYPD Pizza probably offers the best pizza on this side of town. They have nice lunch specials. Located at 6015 Chenonceau Blvd Ste 1, 501-868-3911.
- BRAVO! Cucina Italiana: This Italian chain has a location in the Promenade. It’s an upscale take on American Italian cuisine. Located at 17815 Chenal Pkwy, 501-821-2485.
- Kiyen’s: Kiyen’s menu features seafood, steak and sushi, but most people come for the sushi. The sushi chef is the owner, and he gets everything right about sushi. This restaurant is fairly new to the Little Rock restaurant scene and is already frequently cited as one of the best for sushi. Located at 7200 Chenal Pkwy, 501-821-7272.
- Cafe Brunelle: Great little coffee shop that offers mouthwatering pastries and a pretty decent breakfast and lunch menu. It has a fun, local coffee shop atmosphere. Located at 17819 Chenal Pkwy, 501-448-2687.
University and Midtown is the home to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and our largest indoor mall, Park Plaza, which means there are a few fast food chains around. It’s also the home to the Midtowne Shopping Center, which hosts some upscale shops, like Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma.
- Riveria Maya: Riveria Maya offers more traditional food than Tex-Mex, but it’s still pretty Americanized. They are one the better traditional Mexican restaurants in town, evidenced by the massive lunch crowd (lunch prices are quite reasonable). Located at 801 Fair Park Blvd, 501-663-4800
- HBs BBQ: There are actually quite a few BBQ restaurants in this general area, but I think HBs is the best (Sim’s BBQ at 1307 John Barrow Road is pretty close. Go there if you want ribs). HBs is run out of a small house in a residential area, so plan to get your food to go (there are a few tables). The pulled meat sandwiches are the things of legend. Located at 6010 Lancaster, 501-565-1930. Cash only.
- Big Orange: This is Big Orange’s second location (their first location at 17809 Chenal Pkwy is great too), but it’s one of the better places to eat in the area. Big Orange’s menu features gourmet burgers and salads with innovative toppings and hand cut fries and chips. Located at 207 N. University Ave in the Midtowne Shopping Center, 501-379-8715.
- Murry’s Dinner Playhouse: Murry’s Dinner Playhouse is a dinner buffet and a show. The food is usually decent (prime rib, chicken, lots of vegetables), but you’ll never expect the great theater and atmosphere when you see the external location. This a great place to go for special occasions. Located at 6323 Colonel Glenn Rd, 501-562-3131. It’s behind and to the side of the shopping center there.
Rodney Parham is a popular destination for shopping and business. Popular chain restaurants in the area include Chili’s and the Olive Garden.
- Franke’s Cafeteria: Franke’s is the oldest restaurant in central Arkansas. When you’ve been around as long as they have (almost 100 years), you’ve got to be doing something right. They serve their meals cafeteria style and have traditional Southern meats and vegetables. The pie is worth trying too. The atmosphere is casual and the patrons tend towards the older side. Located at 11121 N Rodney Parham, 501-225-4487.
- The Pantry: The Pantry serves up the best European food in the city. The menu slants toward German food, but you’ll find some Czech dishes and even some Italian fare. Everything there is always delicious. Located at 11401 N. Rodney Parham Rd., 501-353-1875.
- Layla’s Gyros and Pizzeria: Layla’s is a Greek-themed restaurant and Halal butcher. I’ve honestly never had the pizza because I usually stick to the Greek options. The menu features great gyros, falafel and lamb dishes. Find them at 9501 N Rodney Parham Rd, 501-227-7272.
- B-Side: B-Side is a popular place for breakfast. You’ll find bacon-wrapped French toast skewers, apple and Gouda frittatas and a biscuit mountain. The biscuit mountain is two buttermilk biscuits, sausage patties, pommes rosti, topped with sausage gravy and sunnyside up eggs. They are only open for breakfast, located at 11121 Rodney Parham, 501-716-2700. Road. Look for Lilly’s Dim Sum sign (B-Side and Lilly’s are connected).