Little Rock Central High School is in my opinion the most historically significant landmark in Little Rock.
If you want to know what makes Little Rock, Arkansas such a special place to visit, ask a local—and that’s just what we did. Join us as we explore this beautiful and exciting destination with three unique individuals who live, work, play, and create here. Little Rock is filled with many wonderful things just waiting to be experienced and enjoyed. From unique local business to art galleries, museums, theatres, scenic tours, farm to fork restaurants, and spectacular adventures in nature, this is one of America’s true hidden gems.
Tell us about yourself and what you do for a living?
I was born in South Korea then adopted by my family in Arkansas when I was just three months old. I grew up between Little Rock and Hot Springs and attended the University of Arkansas before taking a bit of a leap. Engineering school dropout turned culinary school graduate is the best way to sum up my next few years. After moving back to Little Rock and reconnecting with friends, The Fold was born. I am currently the co-owner and chef of the fun and vibrant Mexican inspired restaurant located in an old service station.
If you moved from somewhere else, what influenced your decision to move here?
I was living in Hyde Park, New York finishing my degree at the Culinary Institute of America before moving back to Little Rock. Being close to my family was the major motivator for moving home. Being able to be a part of the growing restaurant scene in Little Rock turned out to be an added bonus.
What are the most popular dishes on the menu at The Fold?
The most popular item on the whole menu is our Diablo Shrimp taco. Our queso is, of course, a very close second. One of our most-covered menu items as far as media attention goes is the Bison Burrito. It was one of the featured dishes when Guy Fieri came to Little Rock for Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. And you can’t have a complete experience at The Fold without adding an award-winning Fold Margarita to your meal.
When you have a night off, where do you go for dinner and drinks?
I try to pick my dinner and drinks outings by neighborhood. If I’m staying close to home in Hillcrest, I’ll typically go to either Ciao Baci (for the cheeseburger) or The Pantry Crest (for the Pantry Board). If I’m headed to SoMa, it’s Raduno Brick Oven and Barroom (Salsicca pizza or anything brunch) and Loblolly Ice Cream for dessert. Get the strawberry buttermilk ice cream if it’s in season. In Riverdale, if it’s not The Fold, then it has be Maddie’s Place for the fried chicken and mac and cheese. A little more west, and the choice is Table 28. They have some of the most innovative dishes in town. In the East Village, I’ll go to the Railyard for the food trucks and Count Porkula or Fidel & Co for coffee just down the street.
What cultural attractions or events are a must see for visitors to Little Rock?
Little Rock Central High School is in my opinion the most historically significant landmark in Little Rock. The William J. Clinton Library and Museum always has rotating exhibits in addition to their permanent collections. The Robinson Center Music Hall always has an exceptional lineup of events. Rock Town Distillery in SoMa has great cocktail classes and guided tours/tastings.
A friend is coming to Little Rock for the first time… Please describe the perfect weekend.
A reservation at the Capital Hotel for lodging. For dinner Friday night head over to Riverdale for dinner and drinks at The Fold of course. The next day I’d start with brunch at The Corner down the street from the Capital before heading to either Pinnacle Mountain State Park or the Big Dam Bridge. Then head to Hillcrest for dinner at Ciao Baci or The Pantry Crest. Wrap up the evening with cocktails on the Capital Hotel’s “front porch,” an amazing upstairs balcony in the heart of downtown. To round out the weekend, Sunday brunch at Raduno is amazing (be sure to make reservations). The Cucumber mimosa or a Bloody Mary with the risotto cake benedict are my go-to. After brunch I’d take in a distillery tour at Rock Town (be sure to pick up a bottle on the way out). Round out the afternoon with ice cream at Loblolly and a little shopping at some of the great local shops (Pink Olive, Moxy, Electric Ghost, M2 Gallery, Sweet Home Furnishings, Esse Purse Museum & Store) before heading home.
What are the best places to truly enjoy the natural beauty of the area?
The summit of Pinnacle Mountain has some of the best views in town. There are several trails to choose from depending on what level of difficulty you are looking for. The Big Dam Bridge is the longest pedestrian and cycling bridge in North America I believe. It’s the connection to miles of scenic trails as well as various parks and attractions. If you’re a cyclist, it’s almost a requirement to go.
What is your favorite time of year in Little Rock and why?
Spring and/or fall. Hands down. It’s a great time to enjoy some of the best restaurant patios in town as well as all of the wonderful outdoor activities that Little Rock has to offer.
What’s one souvenir to bring back for friends or family?
It’s too hard to pick just one! A Little Rock t-shirt from AR-T’s. A bottle of anything from Rock Town. Depending on the season a bag of local produce from one of the many local farmer’s markets. A loaf of bread from Boulevard Bread Company (Pagnotta or a baguette are my favorites). Coffee from Fidel & Co. Anything from Domestic Domestic.
Please finish this sentence: Don’t leave Little Rock without…
Really experiencing the different neighborhoods. Each one gives you a unique perspective of what Little Rock has to offer.