Inspiring Little Locavores at The Root Café

When The Root opened in the summer of 2011, it represented one of the first establishments to fully embrace the local food movement already sweeping the country. Customers soon realized, however, that at The Root, “eating local” was more than simply a charming philosophy; it meant exceptional quality and some seriously tasty food. The Root supports a long list of local farms, dairies, and bakeries—not only because they strive to build their community, but also because these places provide some of the finest produce, cheeses, breads and meats available in Arkansas.

Parents looking to put something a little better on their child’s plate will find that The Root is a perfect place for their family. Owners Jack and Corri Sundell have made it a point to provide a bright, cheery, casual environment that welcomes eaters of all ages, ensuring that children enjoy their experience at the small South Main Street café just as much as their adult counterparts.

Photo by Daniel Walker

Photo by Daniel Walker

What makes The Root such a fantastic place for families? It’s more than just great food. It’s a small restaurant, with a good number of tables outside, on their porch and inside their small garden, ideal for kids who sometimes struggle with their inside voices. To keep children entertained while parents enjoy their meals, the restaurant has several small wicker baskets filled with toys and games. Toy cars, building blocks, crayons and coloring books and even a handful of board games are available for families who really want to take their time and enjoy the afternoon. Outside in the garden, children can frolic among the flowers and color on the rocks and stepping stones with sidewalk chalk.

Then, there’s the food.

Weekend breakfast is one of my family’s favorite times to sit down together and enjoy an unrushed meal. No one does breakfast better than The Root. Most kids are big fans of pancakes and those offered here are some of the best in Little Rock—three thick, warm buttermilk hot cakes, with real maple syrup and whipped butter. Their biscuit sandwiches should not be missed either—they put other inferior fast food options to shame. Here you’ll find a fresh, homemade biscuit—light and flaky—topped with freshly-ground sausage or smoked ham, a farm-fresh egg and locally-sourced cheddar. And, for a sweet morning treat, The Root’s popular “donut muffin” (with cinnamon and nutmeg and rolled in sugar) is always sure to please. Your family will never want to grab their morning grub from a drive-thru ever again.

Photo by Daniel Walker

Photo by Daniel Walker

Lunch at The Root is equally impressive and provides a number of satisfying kid-friendly menu items. Their “Everyday Dirt” sandwich is a mix of smooth peanut butter, cream cheese and homemade muscadine jelly on toasted Boulevard Bread Co. bread—and believe me, it’s no ordinary PB&J. They do a wonderful grilled cheese sandwich with Wisconsin Swiss or local Honeysuckle Lane yellow cheddar—so good, it’s incredibly hard for parents to keep their hands off (don’t worry, there’s also a larger, adult-sized version available). Kids are always fans of French fries, and The Root’s are some of the finest in town. Theirs are thick-cut, lightly fried and come out much less greasy, but more flavorful, than what you might find at a fast food joint. And of course, the burgers are sure to be enjoyed by everyone in the family—thick, juicy and ground fresh in house.

The South Main Street neighborhood continues to blossom with time and it’s now one of the most family-friendly sections of Little Rock. When the weather’s favorable, a family could happily spend hours in this part of town enjoying great bakeries and sweets, ice cream, strolls through Bernice Garden, unique shops and some of the finest eats in town at The Root.

The Root Café
1500 S. Main St., Little Rock
(501) 414-0423

www.therootcafe.com