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Red Moon Tavern Shines Bright

I

I was plenty late to the Red Moon Tavern party. The restaurant, located on the western edge of Little Rock near Chenal Parkway and Highway 10, fell under my radar for a couple of years. I could falsely blame the pandemic or just admit that some spots slip through the cracks of my food coverage.

It happens.

But after three largely successful visits over a 5-month span, I thought it was high time Red Moon got some OnlyinArk.com love. So, here we are.

First things first, I really dig the vibe of this place. While maybe not a true “tavern” experience, Red Moon is often filled with neighborhood folks looking for good drinks and solid eats. The setting is fun, even a little hip, but also unpretentious, with a dedicated waitstaff that reflects these traits. The bar is front and center at Red Moon, so if there’s a wait to secure a table–as might be the case with the restaurant’s increasing popularity–post up there with a Blackberry Sage Margarita or Amaretto Sour. It’s also where you’ll probably find Chris Johnson, the boisterous bartender who not only crafts a mean cocktail but also isn’t afraid to sing Happy Birthday to a regular. From afar, the man seems beloved by the growing list of frequent patrons.

Let’s get to the food.

The menu is focused. That’s a nice way of saying small, which is A-OK by me. What they do, they do well. That includes an offering of thin-crusted pizzas, many of which come with your standard toppings. The one eccentric loner is the Real Big Dill. First, nice name. Second, do I now have your attention? Good. As you may have guessed, this pickle pizza comes with sliced pickles, bacon, and a garlic butter base. The thick, braided crust is my favorite part, so make sure to ask for a side of ranch for dipping. Just know this, the Real Big Dill, with its combination of salty and tangy flavors, is not for everyone. Pizza purists might frown at a pickle pie, but I for one, love the creativity.

Another option that everyone at the table will enjoy is the crudités appetizer with house-made crackers, fresh vegetables, and pea hummus. The hummus comes with a pool of lemon-infused honey, which tastes every bit as good as it sounds.

Those looking for a little heat should consider the Southwest Chicken Salad. It comes with romaine lettuce, blackened chicken, corn, black beans, avocado, tomato, red onion, and, of course, sliced jalapenos. I recommend 86-ing the latter unless you intend on nursing a glass of ice water the rest of the meal. I should also mention that Red Mood typically runs a daily special entrée. If it happens to be the grilled lamb chops over risotto, you might want to consider an order.

The only slight disappointment so far has been the Cuban Sandwich, which really needs a good pressing or flat-top grill job to give the handheld a nice crunch. That’s an easy fix. The rest of the sandwich, especially the juicy pork loin element, was spot-on.

End the meal with a slice of house-made cheesecake. The artfully displayed dessert rests in a pool of mixed berry sauce. It’s fun. In fact, Red Moon Tavern, in general, is a ton of fun.

I just wish it hadn’t taken me so long to figure that out.

Red Moon Tavern
6015 Chenonceau Blvd (Little Rock)
Phone: (501) 367-8188
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 4 p.m.-10 p.m.

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Kevin Shalin is a food writer living in Little Rock with his wife, Sara, and one daughter, Sydney. His oldest daughter, Natalie, is a freshman at Loyola University in Chicago. He started his own blog, The Mighty Rib, twelve years ago while living in Houston. Six months later, he began writing for Eating Our Words, a Houston Press food blog. After a year in Boston, he moved to Little Rock, where he’s been for ten years. During that time, he’s written for publications like Little Rock Soiree, Arkansas Times, AY Magazine, and The Local Palate.

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