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Little Rock’s Count Porkula started as a BBQ food truck, graduated to a brick-and-mortar at The Rail Yard on the capital city’s east side, then recently opened its second location just across the river where North Little Rock and Maumelle collide at 10840 Maumelle Boulevard. This is an interesting address, to say the least. While some folks feel the location is cursed, pointing to the numerous restaurants coming and going over the past decade, I actually think it’s an ideal spot on the heavily trafficked boulevard. Time will tell, but as for the present, I was ready to pay a visit to North Little Rock’s newest restaurant.
My initial thoughts were overwhelmingly positive. Yes, the atmosphere was nice, with a comfortable setting complete with a full bar and even an area up front for games of cornhole. And yes, the service was fantastic, headlined by an efficient, order-at-the-counter, fast casual formula so prominent these days. But it was the BBQ that really stood out.
I’ve had good food at Count Porkula in the past, but this time represented a more complete experience. The baby back ribs, for example, were not only better than previous visits, but they were the best I’ve had from a restaurant in Central Arkansas. No sauce is needed here. The well-seasoned dry rub imparted just the right amount of flavor, and a masterful smoking job left the ribs with the right tenderness. These were not fall-off-the-bone ribs, and that’s a good thing. The meat needs to have a little pull from the bone, and Count Porkula nailed it.
The sliced brisket was also markedly better than before. Super moist and appropriately fatty with a nice bark, this beef was right up there with some of the other elite BBQ restaurants in Arkansas. The pulled pork was also on-point, as was the hickory smoked, cheddar and jalapeno sausage. The latter very well may have been my favorite thing on The Sampler, a $55 platter (best suited for 2-3 people) with turkey or chicken, the other aforementioned meats, and four sides. A piece of sausage slathered in some subtly tangy Count Porkula BBQ sauce is the way to go. Just make sure to chase it with a forkful of collard greens. Kudos to the kitchen for not cooking these greens down to a mushy pile of nothingness. They had a little bite and proved to be my favorite of the four sides, which included slaw, dill pickle pasta salad, and mac & cheese. I’m picky with my restaurant mac and this version needed to be cheesier and just plain gooier.
Finally, Count Porkula’s wings deserve a mention. Go with a half dozen of the Buffalo style, a perfect combination of butter and hot sauce. Count Porkula’s menu also features a few salads, five sandwiches, loaded baked potatoes, and specialty items like Almost Famous Nachos and a sausage and cheese tray.
In the end, it’s funny how solid management coupled with consistent food can put an end to restaurant location curses. And after my first visit to the new Count Porkula in North Little Rock, I feel comfortable predicting long-term success.
Count Porkula On The Boulevard
10840 Maumelle Blvd (North Little Rock)
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
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