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Selected restaurants

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Photographs by Jennifer Christman

Whole Hog Cafe offers six barbecue sauces at its area outlets.

Weekly theme listings reflect a range of dining possibilities in central Arkansas, across a spectrum of settings and price ranges. Restaurant reviewers' visits are anonymous and all expenses are paid by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Bargain: a meal (without beverage or dessert) typically less than $12. Moderate: $12 to $25. Expensive: $25 and up.

Catfish

CATFISH CITY & BBQ GRILL

1817 S. University Ave., Little Rock, (501) 663-7224.

This veteran establishment serves tasty catfish -- fried or grilled -- plus shrimp, frog legs, hot wings, chicken tenders and barbecue.

Lunch, dinner Mon-Sat. Reservations (large parties). Bargain.

EAT MY CATFISH

Breckenridge Village Shopping Center, Interstate 430 and North Rodney Parham Road, Little Rock, (501) 222-8055; 1205 Military Road, Benton, (501) 909-2323; 2125 Harkrider St., Conway, (501) 588-1867.

The new west Little Rock location of the minichain offers pretty good catfish, plus a menu of other, mostly fried, items, but with a couple of boiled/steamed options for those looking to avoid dietary fat. (Recommendations: fried shrimp, the shrimp po'boy, steamed snow crab and the hush puppies.)

Lunch, dinner Mon-Sat, lunch Sun. Wine and beer. Moderate.

FLYING FISH

511 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock, (501) 375-3474.

The popular seafood shack continues to serve up, on an ever-expanding menu, fine fish, fried and otherwise, including some of the town's best (and best drained) catfish.

Lunch, dinner daily. Beer, wine. Bargain-moderate.

Barbecue

CAPITOL SMOKEHOUSEAND GRILL

915 W. Capitol Ave., Little Rock, (501) 372-4227.

Candy Wilkerson operates this successful, modest, award-winning downtown barbecue-plus-plate-lunch shack without a hitch.

Lunch Mon-Fri. Bargain.

CORKY'S RIBS & BBQ

12005 Westhaven Drive, Little Rock, (501) 954-7427; 2947 Lakewood Village Drive, North Little Rock, (501) 753-3737.

This nice, polite, suburban Memphis-based franchise barbecue operation, which serves well-smoked ribs, wet and dry, and some of the best baked beans, takes no risks but offers a few surprises at its two central Arkansas locations.

Lunch, dinner daily. Full bar. Reservations (eight or more people). Bargain-moderate.

SIMS BAR-B-QUE

2415 Broadway, Suite B, Little Rock, (501) 372-6868; 1307 John Barrow Road, Little Rock, (501) 224-2057; 7601 Geyer Springs Road, Little Rock, (501) 562-8844.

You can always count on this old-school marvel for solid, messy and no-frills barbecue with a somewhat vinegary sauce; the ribs continue to be your best bet.

Lunch, dinner. Mon-Sat. Beer at Broadway and John Barrow Road locations only. Bargain.

UPDATE! WHOLE HOG CAFE

2516 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, (501) 664-5025; 12111 W. Markham St., Little Rock, (501) 907-6124; 5107 Warden Road, North Little Rock, (501) 753-5228; 14524 Cantrell Road, Little Rock, (501) 673-3000.

The barbecue minichain, built by a prize-winning competition team, continues to offer top-of-the-line pulled pork, savory beef brisket and amazing ribs and six sauces; the latest outlet, on Cantrell Road in west Little Rock, also offers excellent wings.

Lunch, dinner daily at both Cantrell Road locations and West Markham, Mon-Sat in North Little Rock. Beer, wine. Bargain.

Weekend on 01/04/2018

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