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of love and lunch: The Root Cafe, Little Rock

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By Jen White · June 22, 2012 · 0 Comments ·

My birthday burger and salad with blueberries and honeydew.

Last week, Paul and I attended a wedding in Little Rock, Arkansas...and also got to hang out with some of our favorite people for my 40th birthday! We've actually enjoyed a whirlwind of weddings, birthdays, and friends since June started, and we've been eating some terrific food along the way.  We seem to visit Little Rock every two years or so, for a wedding or similar event, because Paul spent years living there and has a ton of friends who call it home.  Our friend Alan suggested lunch at The Root Cafe, and we couldn't have had a better meal.

The Root is a small, bright, eclectic place full of homey touches like unmatched cloth napkins, oilcloth-draped tables, and a selection of books to browse while you wait. It's the kind of place I'd like to own if I ever had the nerve to own a place: breakfast and lunch, everything's fresh and mostly local, and the people are truly friendly.  We'd heard they had the best burger anywhere, so Paul and I both had to have one.  I'm glad our friend Alan got the tofu banh mi so we could see how gorgeous it is.  He said it changed his life.

 banh mi with salad

I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive about the cheeseburger, until I tasted it.  I think it's because I'm a fan of salty diner burgers that come off the griddle thin and a little greasy (growing up in Oklahoma probably did this to me).  So when I order a burger at a place that serves a salad alongside, I get nervous that my burger will be too wholesome and my salt tooth will go hungry.  But The Root's burger was both wholesome and devilishly juicy and beefy.  I adored it.  I also ate all my salad, thanks to the fresh garlicky dressing they laced it with.  

sweet potato fries with aioli: these were really tasty, as were the regular ol' potato fries

The Root also offers tantalizing sweet treats. From lower left: an unidentified but scrumptious cupcake, chocolate chunk cookie, and French doughnut muffin rolled in cinnamon sugar (I could eat about 12 of these).

While the place is small and the line can grow long, we arrived near the end of their service, at about 2:00, and had no trouble finding a table outside. Plus, if outside, you can gaze at their happy vegetable mural and make up voices to go with, say, the eggplant or the cornbread.  It's pretty fun.

You can read more about the community involvement of The Root Cafe in this piece by my incomparable friend Meredith Martin-Moats.

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