Don’t you just love to visit those small cafes where you feel a little lost in time or like you are sitting at your grandma’s kitchen table? Northwest Arkansas has quite a few of these quaint establishments tucked in both busy and lazy places. I love to meet a client or friend at one of these cafes where the conversation is easy and the atmosphere is down-home friendly.
Fayetteville alone has more cafes than you can name on ten fingers. This is just part of being in a town with lots of history dating way back before the civil war. I have ventured further than Fayetteville to give you this top ten list, but all are in Northwest Arkansas.
1. In the furthest point north before the Missouri line is the village of Bella Vista. Nestled in rolling hills, the village’s golf courses are some of the most beautiful and challenging in all of Arkansas. The local eat place… Duffer’s Cafe. You’ll find American fare with the best home-made burgers, fries and awesome baked goods, including fresh-baked sticky buns every Saturday. There are no strangers at Duffer’s.
2. Bentonville is home to Walmart Corporate Offices and the IDK? Cafe. Funny name. How often do you ask a co-worker “Where do you want to go today?” And the answer is “I don’t know? You choose.” And after a few go-arounds of that then your lunch hour is almost over! Well, now you have the go-to cafe. IDK? Cafe. A favorite cafe all-around town and my favorite for their Mushroom Brie soup.
3. Heirloom Food and Wine Cafe is located in historic downtown Rogers. A tasty New American (vegetarian) menu of natural foods & delicious wines. The menu always has scrumptious GF and vegan fare.
4. Spring Street Grill and Catering is housed in an old storefront just off the main thoroughfare through downtown Springdale where creaky old wooden plank floors greet you. The oriental chicken salad is so good and homemade pies are made in all of your favorite flavors. They have catered many gatherings over the years.
5. Springdale is home to Tyson Foods International Headquarters so it would make sense that cafes here have the best chicken served anywhere. On highway 71B is Neal’s Cafe that still dons the pink stucco from 1944 when Toy and Bertha Neal first opened it. Generations have eaten there. At one time it had a glass wall that housed a bee-hive right inside the doors of the dining room. It mesmerized every squirmy child including me. Happy family memories are made of the many after-church dinners enjoyed here. Real southern fried chicken and chicken fried steaks are still cooked in cast iron skillets and served up with those special mashed potatoes and gravy. Neals offers rib-sticking stuff plus they have a great grilled chicken with grilled veggies. The “best of the better foods” is their motto. Make some memories with the next generation.
6. Out highway 412 west of Springdale is a little village rich in Italian heritage. Tontitown is home to Mama Z’s Cafe. Nothing comes out of their kitchen from a package or jar. Homemade pasta noodles and sauces are made fresh daily. The fried chicken and spaghetti plate is a regional favorite. (Remember we are in chicken country.)
7. Come back to Highway 71B and travel south until you reach the Pesto Cafe. It’s tucked away in the northwest corner of a landmark motel. This is a dimly-lit eclectic dining room with great authentic Italian dishes and some very unique ones like my favorite, Angel by the Sea -sautéed shrimp, scallops, salmon, and bell peppers in a white wine based pink sauce over angel hair pasta. Magnifico!
8. Now venture back to historic downtown Fayetteville for my final three favorites in this top ten. Petra’s Cafe is a little Mediterranean cafe stop for an authentic Turkish coffee with baklava combo or some Baba Ghanouge.
9. .99 cent Mimosas and Eggs Pontchartrain call you to the best Sunday brunch fare at the eclectic Cafe Rue Orleans. Chef Maudie creates beautiful cajun and creole dishes to rival anything in New Orleans. Laissez faire bon temps rouler.
10. So we’ve travelled through Northwest Arkansas with tastes of New American vegan, authentic Italian, and a trip to Bourbon Street. Let’s end this trip with a spicy spot called A Taste of Thai. This is a good date night place just off the Fayetteville downtown square, filled with warm atmosphere and comforting scents of curry spices.
If you live in NWA, I hope you learned about some new cafes. If you know of any other great cafes comment on this post and let everyone know. If you’re visiting, hopefully we’ve helped you plan some of your meals. If you’re relocating to NWArk, I hope this post gave you a glimpse of our area. It’s a great place to live! If you try these cafes I’d love to see you Around Town! Post your pictures to Facebook or Instagram and tag me.