Winning ribs restaurants in Arkansas

Ask residents of Little Rock, Arkansas which barbecue house serves up the best ribs in town and you are likely to get different answers. Whether you prefer the sweet, tangy vinegary taste of a traditional southern sauce or a spicy dry rub that leaves your shirt clean and your taste buds tingling, you can find it at one of Little Rock’s many restaurants and diners that specialize in churning out barbecued ribs, pulled pork and chicken, along with heaping helpings of coleslaw and all the fixin’s that accompany barbecued ribs.

Everyone has their favorite barbecue house, where they swear the ribs are the best in Little Rock, but one name that repeatedly gets mentioned at the top of the list is the Whole Hog Cafe and Catering at 2516 Cantrell Road in Little Rock. Don’t be surprised when you pull into the parking lot of a strip mall. It doesn’t live up to the image of smoke belching from a chimney and the smell of roasting pork permeating the air, but one bite of ribs and you will be convinced you are in the right place.

The restaurant on Cantrell Road is the flagship store for the three chefs who combined their talents to create the Whole Hog Cafe. Ron and Mike Blasingame and Mike, better known as Sarge Davis founded the store and went whole hog, when they opened 13 more stores with a 14th outlet slated to open in Springfield, Missouri. Word of mouth, not to mention the mouthwatering food, has earned the Whole Hog Caf and Catering a long list of awards.

Fodor’s travel guide listed the restaurant as one of five restaurants in Little Rock that should not be overlooked during a visit to the central Arkansas city on the banks of the Arkansas River. Since 2001 the Whole Hog Cafe has consistently earned the Reader’s Choice Award for the best barbecue in the Arkansas capital. The contest is sponsored by the Arkansas Times newspaper. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette also named the restaurant as the best place in Little Rock to eat barbecue in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008.

Running a close second to Whole Hog Cafe and Catering is Sims Barbecue at 716 West 33rd Street is mentioned almost as often as it competitor. Whether it is the exotic woods used to smoke the meat or whether it is the ambiance of the dining room, Sims offers a one of a kind dining experience. For true fans of the eatery in Little Rock’s South End, nothing beats the smoky blend of apple wood, sassafras chips and pecan woods mingled with traditional hickory smoke to give the ribs a one-of-a-kind flavor. Dry rub or a choice of sauces that include hot, spicy concoctions that leave your mouth on fire, Sims has it all. On top of serving up great barbecue and traditional side dishes, Sims provides canned blues music during the week with live bands every Friday.

Whether you agree with the popular choices for barbecue in Little Rock, you can always go barbecue house hopping and find the taste that meets your expectations. Little Rock has a wide range of eateries specializing in this southern food tradition.