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Flora Jean’s Brings Balance to Plant-Based Eating


On the surface, the concept of a wellness café and juice bar might scare off some people. But the owners of Flora Jean’s on Third in Little Rock have gone out of their way to make it accessible even to the skeptics.

Owned by sisters Leila King and Helen Grace King and their sister-in-law, Kamiya Merrick, the women got their start with At the Corner Diner, also in downtown Little Rock. The latter modern diner is well-known for their breakfast and weekend brunch with an emphasis on farm to table, so it was logical that a new restaurant would also emphasize such a menu.

Flora Jean’s is self-described as a “wellness-centered, plant-focused, nutrient-dense culinary experience.” On my first visit earlier this summer, my experience began with the server adding a few drops of liquid chlorophyll to my bottle of water. Chlorophyll is noted for its antioxidant properties, helping skin glow and reducing inflammation. It gave the water a pretty green tint, and I didn’t really notice a taste, though some say it can come across as earthy or metallic.

The water is basically the appetizer of beverage options. They have a full espresso bar, but they also offer wellness lattes and wellness shots. Although I wanted to try a wellness latte, I opted for a traditional cappuccino because I needed the caffeine.

The golden hour turmeric wellness latte, for example, is inspired by a traditional Ayurvedic wellness ritual in the form of an ancient medicinal drink consumed for its healing, inflammatory properties due to the compound curcumin, found in turmeric.

I later learned that you can also opt for a golden cappuccino; in fact, you can add one of their wellness powders such as turmeric to a traditional cappuccino or latte. The natural beauty of the yellow turmeric or pink beet powder adds another dimension to the overall effect of the latte art.

Other favorites include the wildflower honey latte made with espresso, house-made Arkansas wildflower honey simple syrup and organic whole milk topped with espresso dust and bee pollen, or a wellness shot of ginger, turmeric, carrot and orange juice. Cocktails and margaritas are also made from a variety of fresh juices.

The Arkansas honey is just one example of a local ingredient from farms Flora Jean’s partners with. So even if you’re not quite brave enough for a beet root latte, you can feel good about supporting local farmers.

I was alone on my first visit, and I was not extremely hungry, but I wanted to try the signature blue jean biscuits, which get their blue color from the butterfly pea flower. I opted for the little farmer breakfast, which included two eggs, fresh fruit and the butterfly pea buttermilk biscuit with floral butter and wild berry jam. I was not disappointed by the fluffy biscuit with delicious butter and jam, but I did regret not trying the bean sprout bacon; however, that was motivation for another visit.

By my second visit, I was feeling more adventurous. I opted for the kelp cacio e pepe. I love the traditional Italian pasta dish upon which it is based, and this vegan, gluten-free version features peppercorn cashew cream and olive puree. It was served with a lemon arugula side salad topped with pine nuts. The dish is served cold, but it was delicious, and I would definitely order it again.

This time, I was with a friend who eats a plant-based diet. She ordered the avocado sandwich, which features avocado, broccoli sprouts, cucumber, carrots, pickled red onions, and superfood hummus on charred super-seed bread. It’s also served with a lemon arugula side salad.

She had the following reaction: “I enjoyed it. I thought the menu was smart, with a good variety of staples for people that always or mostly eat plant based. They also had some good options for plant-based eaters that would be outside of what they might normally prepare on their own, such as the kelp noodles. And then they also had safe, comfortable options for people who aren’t normally going to eat entirely plant based.”

Flora Jean’s describes their vision this way: “We believe in the power of plants. We believe we can grow, heal, strengthen and thrive by incorporating more plants into our diet. We believe in the pursuit of plant food as medicine.”

Flora Jean's

But they clearly also believe in balance. While it is a vegetarian restaurant, Arkansas farm eggs and organic milk are also on the menu, making it a great choice for groups with a variety of dietary preferences. They call this “Eat Clean. Beignet Dirty” and describe it as “listening to our own bodies, knowing what it is needing, craving and wanting. And sometimes that means we eat clean, beignet dirty. And that is ok!”

As for the “beignet dirty” part, an enticing rotating pastry case features such freshly baked treats as beignets of the day, seasonal pop tarts, shortbread cookies, brownies, macaroons, lemon bars, cinnamon rolls and chocolate croissants, some of which are vegan and/or gluten free.

Flora Jean’s is open Wednesday through Friday for breakfast and lunch, and weekend brunch is served Saturday and Sunday.

Flora Jean’s
433 E. 3rd St., Little Rock

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April Fatula is student publications adviser and instructor in Harding University's Department of Communication. She lives in Searcy with her husband and three children and dreams alternately of being a travel writer and drinking her coffee while it's still hot.

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One response to “Flora Jean’s Brings Balance to Plant-Based Eating”

  1. […] you’re closer to downtown, you still have great options for food and drink. Flora Jean’s was on the forefront of showing central Arkansas how to eat well and enjoy it. Their menu changes […]

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