Little Rock is sometimes referred to as a top "foodie city" in America, but what does that really mean and what is the city doing so different?
In partnership with the food experts of Arkansas's top food blog, Rock City Eats, we explored the unique, innovative things happening in Central Arkansas. One unique thing happening involves trendy foods. Multiple restaurants in town have researched food trends making it big in other markets across the country and have decided to bring those ideas to Little Rock.
NITRO COLD BREW
From the outside, it may like another run of the mill coffee shop. They've got the standard lattes and other super delicious coffee concoctions, but there's creativity happening as well at Nexus Coffee and Creative. They're mixing together one of the latest trendy drinks called Nitro Cold Brew.
Owner Amy Moorehead said that in these drinks the nitrogen is infused with a cold brew coffee. It pours like a beer would pour out of a keg and it can be up to three times as caffeinated as a regular cup of coffee. Greg Henderson, a local food expert, said the drink has been a successful trend in multiple markets.
“You get to see the trends developing on the coast and the more populous cities and it really kind of benefits Little Rock to be a bit behind everything,” he said. “By the time they are here they are well developed and you know it’s going to be a lasting trend.”
To make the trend work in Little Rock, Nexus put their own flair on it by infusing interesting flavors together. They take flavors like blueberry and lemon and add a little bit of coffee so it is still a coffee drink, but tastes just a little different.
Henderson said this twist works because it makes coffee much more approachable to someone who doesn't typically like the drink.
RAMEN IN LITTLE ROCK
Inside the Arkansas Heart Hospital, patrons can smell the flavorful Japanese cuisine of Coby's Place only after a few steps inside.
Executive Chef Coby Smith traveled all the way to Tokyo to learn how to make top notch ramen bowls. As Coby's cements itself as the first ramen place in Little Rock, Henderson said the trend is growing.
“In San Francisco, you turn a block and you see four or five ramen shops," he said. "It’s become really trendy on the coast and it's slowly making its way now to Arkansas.”
If you're wondering how this trend is going in Arkansas, the numbers speak for themselves.
“We’ve been doing ramen a little over 2 years and it started out pretty slow but it has picked up and since we’ve been open, we’ve probably done 20,000 bowls,” said Smith.
OLD TRENDS, NEW TRICKS
Scott McGehee with Yellow Rocket Concepts, the parent company of Big Orange, said that realizing trends, reacting to them and then making them your own is a never ending process.
He said lately they've been resurrecting old trends and giving them new life in the modern age of cooking.
“Sometimes it’s about bringing back an old item that's been around for years, but bringing it back in the market,” said Henderson. “For example, a Caprese salad isn’t necessarily a new trend but rather, an old trend reimagined.”
McGehee said they aim to keep the Caprese salad as a simple recipe but with local farmers market ingredients and original sauces.
“The Caprese salad, in terms of trends I think it will keep re-trending over time,” he said.