This started as a Favorite Haunts post, but considering recent news, it is changing focus! Get thee to White Water Tavern for a good time and some of the best food you will have in the next month.
White Water Tavern is a mainstay of the Little Rock scene. It has decades of history and stories crammed into the walls. It is a well trod watering hole never short of a cold beer, sports a reinvigorated kitchen that gets nothing but the highest marks, and is a showcase for talented musicians each and every week.
White Water is a dive. No two ways around it. There is a full bar, but I doubt you’ll be ordering anything more complex than a shot or a highball. Beer is the default beverage and WWT keeps a supply handy.
There is wine, but I would recommend you stick with a beer or a whisk(e)y and coke. Nothing fancy, but it doesn’t need to be.
The food at White Water is currently some of the best grub in the city. I would call it an Arkansas take on a gastropub. What Johnathan has done with the kitchen is bring a level of freshness and quality unseen in this city to standard and expected pub food. The results are delectable.
The bread is freshly baked in White Water. The Burger is made from lean grass fed beef. Each and every item on the narrowly tailored menu is a simple combination of ingredients trying to make a greater whole.
The Burger has entered into the upper echelons of the Burger World in Little Rock. We have no small number of Burger Joints offering every burger under the sun. White Water Tavern is in the elite league of the Best Burgers in this town. The meat is marinated overnight to help keep it moist despite the leaner beef used and the result is fantastic.
If you’ve seen me in person in the past year, been reading the other local food blogs, or just had the good fortune to realize – Johnathan Wilkins has been the toast of the eating scene here. The food is as good as promised and inspired a devoted following in the short time Johnathan has been running the Kitchen. Johnathan announced recently that he is going to be leaving the food operations at White Water for other ventures. I wish him all the best and he certainly deserves what new opportunities are coming his way, but it is bittersweet because of the success he has achieved at White Water., The past year that he has been operating The Kitchen at White Water Tavern has been spectacular. His bar food has been the epitome of bar food, in my opinion. It is unpretentious and suited to the dive atmosphere, but he has taken the utmost care in selecting ingredients and preparing them with technical expertise. He takes care to ensure that vegetarian and vegan offerings are on the menu which are prepared with the same amount of care and flavor as everything else. The Burger was hugely popular and charted well in the Burger Caucus’ Burger Brackets.
The general atmosphere is a hodge-podge of different and eclectic pieces of history and life. It reminds you of what a very interest grandfather would have in his den. Okay, maybe that is just my take on it. Upstairs, some additional seating also allows WWT to keep a few pool tables and a foosball table. These coin operated amusements are a nice distraction.
White Water Tavern, however, is a place to hear bands. As a music venue, it boasts one of the most eclectic and well loved stages in town. I can’t even begin to describe the variety that comes through, and it gets packed on weekends but is worth every loud and visceral moment.
Get thee to White Water Tavern for a beer, a show, and to have another shot at the menu that has showed that the best food in town can come from the most unsuspecting places when you least expect it.