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RESTAURANT TRANSITIONS: West Little Rock space not Diablos, but Mexican; Former cookie spot to get burrito outlet

by Eric E. Harrison | April 6, 2023 at 1:35 a.m.
The appareance in January of two large metal sculpture/statues, similar to Day of the Dead images, flanking the entrance to the former Romano Macaroni Grill on West Markham Street spurred speculation that the space would become a west Little Rock branch of Diablos Tacos & Mezcaleria. A staff member at the River Market restaurant says it's the same owners at work but that it is likely to feature a different Mexican dining concept and have a different name. (Democrat-Gazette file photo/Eric E. Harrison)

You will recall we reported a few weeks ago that two large and somewhat intimidating metal sculptures/statues were flanking the entrance to the former Romano Macaroni Grill, 11100 W. Markham St., Little Rock; that they appear to be linked to the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration; and that they resemble very much one in front of Diablos Tacos & Mezcaleria, 300 President Clinton Ave., on the edge of Little Rock's River Market District. (There's also a Diablos in Hot Springs.) At the time, workers at the River Market restaurant said they had not heard anything about a west Little Rock branch. Now, an employee there tells us, yes, it appears it's from the same owners, and it probably will be a Mexican restaurant, but it won't actually be a west Little Rock branch of Diablos — it will be a different concept and have another name. We'll continue to monitor.

And speaking of Mexican restaurants, Crazy King Burrito, a mini-chain with two locations in Mexico and three in the United States — in Beavercreek, Ohio; Stevensville, Mich.; and Fort Collins, Colo. — is apparently poised to open a fourth in Little Rock, in the former Whimsy Cookie space, 401 S. Bowman Road. The menu, which we found at, includes a dozen authentic burrito preparations (in wraps or bowls), queso dip, guacamole and couple of dessert items. No timeline yet.

Barring any major damage to the building because of last Friday's tornado, look for Infusion Resto Bar & Hookah Lounge to open soon in the former Handi Fine Indo-Pak Cuisine/Mehfil Indo-Mughlai Pak Cuisine/Dixie Cafe space in the Village at Pleasant Valley Shopping Center at 10700 N. Rodney Parham Road, at Interstate 430, Little Rock. Details on things like the menu are still sketchy, but the website,, offers pleasant photos of potential cocktails and this warning-slash-dress code: "Security has the right to refuse entry. A smart casual dress code applies. Slippers & flip-flops are not permitted." A March 30 post on the Facebook page ( appealed for servers —requirements: "Positive Attitude, Dependable, Ready to kick it & serve," and offering "competitive pay plus tips, a fun and friendly atmosphere and flexible scheduling." Hours will be 5 p.m.-midnight Sunday-Thursday, 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday. We couldn't get an answer at the listed phone number, (501) 313-4652.

Star of India, a nearby Indian eatery at 301 N. Shackleford Road, Little Rock, has restored its lunch buffet, a temporary pandemic victim, offering vegan, vegetarian and nonvegetarian ("chicken, lamb, etc.," according to the Facebook post) cuisine 11 a.m.-2:45 p.m. daily. Full-service dinner hours continue at 5-10 p.m. (501) 227-9900;;

Kaluas Snack Bar remains in North Little Rock but has moved from 3425 Pike Ave. in Levy to the Vali-Hi Shopping Center, 4550 John F. Kennedy Blvd. Current hours are 12:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. The new space allows for the expansion of seating and of its Mexican dessert options beyond "mangonadas, chicharrones [and] Fresas con crema." A recent Facebook post ( tells patrons to expect a new lunch menu "coming soon." (501) 541-7680.

Little Rock's East Village is poised to get a dog-friendly brewery, Southern Tail Brewing, opening soon at 900 E. Ninth St., the site of a former car wash. Brent Cryder, president of Southern Dog Holdings LLC, and his wife, Tracy Cryder, are accomplished and competitive brewers, and, Tracy Cryder tells Arkansas Business, "We love Arkansas, and we love dogs— and when the opportunity to combine that with our passion for brewing arose, it was the perfect recipe." The new 11,000-square-foot brewery will "provide a welcoming place to eat, drink and play that serves exceptional craft beverages for everyone" and a portion of proceeds will support Arkansas animal charities. Groundbreaking is set for later this month and the Cryders are anticipating starting service sometime next year.

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Spa City entertainment venue Vapors Live, 315 Park Ave., Hot Springs, is in the process of opening a barbecue restaurant called Smoked. "The first kitchen is permitted and we are serving takeout on Saturday and Sunday while getting the dining room open," according to the entertainment venue's website, "We're also catering, accepting orders, and serving at some of our events in the main theater," including the not-entirely-regular Sunday BBQ and Blues Brunch. (Next one, we're told, takes place May 7.) "We'll be opening a pet-friendly beer garden with an acoustic stage and a smaller room for stand-up comedy and other events." Find menus and information on progress and forthcoming events at

Firehouse Subs franchisees Robert Stevens, Robert Burnett and Chris Delre have opened a restaurant at 8100 Rogers Ave., Fort Smith. Hours are 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. (479) 452-4468;

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Here are a few more Easter brunch options:

◼️ Bunny Brunch, 8:30-10:30 a.m. in Cafe Africa at the Little Rock Zoo, 1 Zoo Drive (off Fair Park Boulevard), Little Rock, will feature an "amazing breakfast buffet"; guests can have pictures taken with the Easter Bunny, "have animal encounters with our Ambassador Rabbit and enjoy other crafts and activities!" Tickets are $46, $40 for zoo members. Visit

◼️ Petit & Keet, 1620 Market St., Little Rock, serves its Easter Sunday Brunch Buffet, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The buffet will include scrambled eggs, with or without peppers and onions; Wrights Bacon; Petit Jean Breakfast Sausage; biscuits and gravy; brioche French toast; prime rib with fixings; shrimp and grits with capicola; Cajun boiled shrimp; miso-glazed salmon; quiche; and a range of side items and desserts. Cost: $60 (plus tax and gratuity). Call (501) 319-7675 for ("highly encouraged") reservations.

◼️ Cypress Social, 7103 Cock of the Walk Lane, North Little Rock, will offer a buffet with scrambled eggs (plain or cheesy, with peppers and onions on the side), bacon, sausage links, hash brown casserole, biscuits and gravy, French toast, fried chicken, salmon in a dill beurre blanc, carved-to-order smoked ham, side items and desserts, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Cost: $45, $15 children 12 and younger. Make reservations by calling (501) 916-2670.

◼️ The Empress of Little Rock Bed and Breakfast, in the Hornibrook Mansion, 2120 Louisiana St., Little Rock, is collaborating with Rosie's Pot & Kettle on an Easter Brunch, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., featuring orange zest French toast, bacon or sausage, spinach and tomato frittata and fresh fruit. $50 per person; seating is limited. Make mandatory reservations before 5 p.m. Friday by calling (501) 374-7966. They'll be doing a similar brunch May 14 for Mother's Day.

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Food-connected fundraisers:

◼️ "BAGGO, Brats N' Blues," Habitat for Humanity of Central Arkansas' "biggest and most exciting fundraising event," is set for 3 p.m. April 30 at the Rail Yard, 1212 E. Sixth St. in Little Rock's East Village. A $40 ticket gets you blues music from the Shannon Boshears Band, grilled brats, two beers or soft drinks and a commemorative souvenir. There will be happy-hour drink specials and food trucks will be on hand to provide other comestibles if you're not into brats. There will be a two-man-team BAGGO tournament and a ceremonial "note burning" for several Habitat homeowners who paid off their houses this year.

◼️ In the aftermath of last Friday's tornadoes, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Alumni Association postponed its Taste of Little Rock fundraiser, originally planned for Tuesday in the Jack Stephens Center at UALR, 2801 S. University Ave., Little Rock, to 6-8 p.m. April 25, same location. "With many of our community members, volunteers and [participating] restaurants [affected] by the storms, we think it is in the best interest of all involved to pause and allow our community time to focus on other needs," a newsletter explains. Those who have already bought tickets can check in at the door; if you haven't already bought tickets, $75, $35 if you graduated from UALR within the last five years, are an alumni lifetime member or are a member of the UALR faculty and/ or staff. Ticket sales support student scholarships through the UA Little Rock Alumni Association. Visit Call (501) 916-3208.

And speaking of brunch, bet you didn't know April is National Brunch Month. To mark the occasion,, which primarily deals with lawn and tree care, landscaping and pest control, but also throws into our inbox from time to time announcements on topics like Most Irish Cities in America and Best Cities for Crafting, offers 2023's Best Cities for Brunch Lovers. Little Rock ranks 60th out of 200; we won't bore you with the methodology or the eight metrics, which you can take in at No other Arkansas towns made the list; Memphis was 104. The top 10 cities, not surprisingly, are New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Denver, Miami, New Orleans, Las Vegas, San Diego, Savannah, Ga., and Charleston, S.C. Austin, Texas, was 23rd.

Has a restaurant opened — or closed — near you in the last week or so? Does your favorite eatery have a new menu? Is there a new chef in charge? Drop us a line. Send email to:


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