20: Meet Carissa Noriega

Carissa Noriega's Little Rock is full of fun and opportunity. Whether singing and dancing or celebrating her Latina culture, she has sought out all the places that have made Little Rock her home.

1. Name, occupation, years in LR, neighborhood: Carissa Noriega, Social Media Content & Marketing Strategist, singer, blogger and animal lover; I’ve been a Little Rockanite for five years and counting; I live in the Quapaw neighborhood downtown because I fell in love with the history and unique architecture of the homes here (and because Anita Gwatney is an awesome realtor)! 

2. You're originally from Sin City. What brought you to Little Rock? My travels from my birthplace of Las Vegas, NV, to Arkansas ensued in part because my mother was fleeing organized crime and was also seeking a more wholesome place to raise her only child. We landed first in Arkansas wine country where I finished school. I later moved to Little Rock to enjoy more entertainment and opportunities. I have so far achieved two college degrees and met my amazing husband here, so Little Rock has been very good to me!

3. Where do you make sure to take out-of-town guests when they visit? When friends and family visit from afar, I make sure to take them to the Clinton Presidential Center, the Big Dam Bridge, and all along Main Street to check out our awesome local businesses (South on Main, The Green Corner Store, Loblolly Creamery, Esse Purse Museum, Community Bakery) and my favorite organic restaurants, The Root (you have to have the sweet potato fries) and Boulevard Bread. I’m a vegetarian and thankfully Little Rock delivers--Zaza’s (try the rosemary-feta-potato pizza), Big Orange (curry lentil burger), Local Lime (potato-zucchini tacos) and Dempsey Bakery (the avocado melt and everything is gluten free). On the weekends, I love to check out Bernice Gardens on Main Street. You can find awesome vintage pieces, great organic and local produce, or local arts and crafts for sale. My other favorite events in Little Rock are First Thursdays in Hillcrest, Movies in the Park, Salsa Fridays at Juanita’s and the Latino Food and Music Festival. There is something for everyone here!

4. It's a Saturday -- what's on your agenda? Saturday’s in Little Rock are my favorite! If the weather is warm, I usually like to start my day at the Farmer’s Market the River Market or for a run at Big Dam Bridge. I also take my beloved dog-son Leo to the dog park for a while. I love hiking at Pinnacle Mountain for the scenic views on sunny weekends. Cajuns Wharf has an excellent patio and delicious food to enjoy in the afternoon and evening. If it’s chilly out, I love to stop by The Joint for an awesome cup of coffee in a really cool atmosphere. At night, you can really find any kind of live music to enjoy--from jazz to rock. Some of my favorites are The Afterthought, White Water Tavern, Stickyz, Gypsy Bistro (awesome jazz!) and The Rev Room. I love to head out with a group of friends and enjoy good food and dance the night away. If it’s a girl’s night, we almost always go to Gypsy Bistro for drinks and appetizers then to Sway or Club Level to dance the night away!

5. What do you think is LR's best kept secret? Little Rock has something for everyone. There are so many fun neighborhoods--from Hillcrest to the Heights to Quapaw--that all offer their own unique stores and restaurants. But I think the best-kept secret of Little Rock is the entrepreneurial spirit here. I have met some of the most influential small business owners in this city that are really making a difference in our community. It’s an honor to be friends with people who have such big ideas and a fearless ambition. I hope to be joining the league of small business owners myself by 2015!

Learn more about Carissa’s Little Rock on her blog at forloveandveggies.wordpress.com.