The Best BBQ in Little Rock and Central Arkansas

Most people think of Memphis or Texas when they think about BBQ. I used to write about Memphis, so I've eaten at a lot of places in Memphis. Some of our local joints beat all of them. As with most cities, the best BBQ is in the little hole in the wall joints that may not be in the best neighborhoods. Don't worry. Your lunch break can be safely taken at all of these establishments.


You will miss HB's if you blink because it's in a residential neighborhood. If you know BBQ in Little Rock, you've heard of The Shack. The place is a legend. Many say that The Shack was the best BBQ in the south. I am too young to remember The Shack, but many locals say HBs is the closest you can get these days. Apparently, Mr. H.B. was related to the owners of the Shack and has their recipes. If you're a BBQ fan, it's worth venturing down the residential street to the little building that has held the restaurant for decades. They serve chopped pork and beef sandwiches and ribs on certain days of the week. They are located at 6010 Lancaster, 501-565-1930. They are only open for lunch and only accept cash.

Sim's Bar-B Que

This is another BBQ place in an off the path location, but it's one of the best in the city, if not the entire South. Sims has chopped pork and sliced beef sandwiches and ribs. They have a sweet, tangy vinegar-based sauce that people love. They have two locations, but their Barrow Road location is my favorite. Located at 7601 Geyer Springs Road (501-562-8844) and 1307 John Barrow Rd (501-224-2057).

Whole Hog Cafe

Whenever you mention "best BBQ," Whole Hog comes up. They have great sandwiches and ribs. Don't miss the potato salad either. It gets rave reviews. They do a great job catering. Aside from having quality meat, Whole Hog also has a unique variety of sauces. The meat comes "undressed" and you pick the sauce. Everyone has a favorite, and if you dine in, you'll get to sample all of them. My favorite is #3. They have several locations including 12111 W Markham St (501-907-6124), 2516 Cantrell Rd (501-664-5025), 5107 Warden Rd (501-753-9227).

McClards BBQ and Ribs

McClards is in Hot Springs, but it may be worth the drive. The ribs at McClards are a legend, and aren't "baby back" like some other places. Photos of the famous people who've eaten there decorate the walls. It was rumored to be on Bill Clinton's short list of favorites when he lives in Arkansas. Their sauce is a spicy vinegar sauce. Cash only. Located at 505 Albert Pike Rd in Hot Springs, 501-623-9665.

Terri-Lynn's Bar-B-Q Deli

Terri-Lynn's has chopped and sliced pork sandwiches with a nice, smokey BBQ sauce. They have some creative deli sandwiches. Great, local deli atmosphere. They have odd hours, so call ahead. Located at 10102 N. Rodney Parham Road, next to the Baskin-Robbins (501-227-6371).

Corky's BBQ

Corky's was started in Memphis, so it's not technically a local dive, and it doesn't really feel like one. However, Memphis does know BBQ and the BBQ here is pretty solid. Pulled pork sandwiches, wet or dry ribs and great rolls make the place a local favorite. They also have the sauce on the table you can choose from. Located at 12005 Westhaven Dr, 501-954-7427.

The Mean Pig

The Mean Pig is known for their "Shut up Juice," a super hot sauce that was featured on Man v. Food. They do have a variety of less horrifying sauce and rub choices you can get on your food. They have pretty good BBQ and ribs too. They have odd hours, so call ahead. Located on 3096 Bill Foster Memorial Hwy in Cabot, 501-941-5489.

Shorty Small's

Shorty Small's has a hokey atmosphere (you can tell from the outside of the restaurant), but it's kind of fun. They have food other than BBQ, but their ribs are pretty good. This is a good choice if you want some BBQ, but have people who don't like BBQ eating with you. Their menu is more varied than any other restaurant I've mentioned. Located at 11100 N Rodney Parham Rd, 501-224-3344.

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