Little Rock has developed such a great farmers market scene that it's become quite difficult to make it around to the various market locations across our fair city. Given its close proximity to where I live, I find myself most often on Saturdays at the Hillcrest Farmers Market, home of such personal favorites as Mylo Coffee Company and the Southern Gourmasian breakfast. With Mylo out of the country this week, I figured it was about time to pay a visit north of the river to the Argenta Farmers Market, a well-appointed market that was one of the first in the area to pay close attention to its vendors to guarantee that all products sold were coming from local producers.
I had an ulterior motive in heading to North Little Rock, though: an alert reader tipped me off last night that new coffee shop Mugs Cafe would be doing a soft opening this morning in anticipation of their grand opening on the 15th — and since "new restaurant" and "coffee" are three of my favorite words, I had to stop in for some breakfast and a cuppa. The experience was a good one, and I think it's safe to say that Mugs is going to be a fantastic option for the caffeine-deprived masses of Central Arkansas.
The cafe itself is one of the most attractive dining spaces I've seen, with a modern decor of polished concrete floors and exposed brick that make a perfect backdrop for the rustic wooden tables and sleek leather couches and chairs. There's a lot of space at Mugs, from the front area where we stepped up to place our order all the way back to a large area lit by an attractive skylight and dominated by a lovely driftwood wall-sculpture map of the world. I was impressed with the setup, and felt immediately comfortable in the classy, yet comfortable surroundings.
The service at Mugs was fantastic, with an enthusiastic crew ready to tell the world about their house-made pastries, numerous breakfast items, and full selection of sandwiches. And, of course, there was the coffee — espresso, lattes, mochas, pretty much the expected menu of java drinks. My wife and I ordered a couple of lattes and a breakfast sandwich made up of grits, a fried egg, and sausage called the Wayfairing Slider. Our drinks and food came out piping hot and lot more quickly than we expected given the decent-sized crowd that ordered ahead of us. The coffee was quite tasty, strong but not over-roasted, and while the Mugs crew aren't pulling lattes with the fancy foam patterns seen in some coffee shops, the flavor was there. Our breakfast sandwiches were also good, although next time I'll hit mine with a pinch of salt and ask for my yolk to be cooked just a titch less. The sausage on the slider was a high point, though, with a strong flavor of sage that really set off the pork.
Take a look below the jump for some more pictures from today's soft opening, and be sure to put Mugs Cafe on your list of new places to try. Mugs is located at 515 Main Street in North Little Rock, right near the Argenta Market. They don't have hours listed yet, but they will be open for breakfast and lunch starting Monday.
Having just recently spent a week in Seattle, the heart of coffee country, I have to say that Guillermo's Gourmet Grounds on Rodney Parham Road can hang with any coffee shop I visited. The crew at G3 are roasting and brewing up a wide variety of different coffees, and I've yet to try one that was over-roasted and burnt like some other popular coffee shops I can think of. Even if you're not a coffee lover, Guillermo's has you covered with a large assortment of teas, seasonal drinks like hot apple cider, and fresh-prepared smoothies that are sure to tickle your tastebuds' fancy.
What really keeps me coming back to G3 (other than my crippling caffeine addiction) are the hot sandwiches, in particular the Turkey Panini. Thick cut chunks of white meat turkey are pressed between two slices of bread with cheese, tomato, and a generous helping of basil pesto. It's a classic combination of flavors that comes to you fresh and screaming hot from the grill, with the crunchy bread giving way to all that gooey fabulous stuff inside. As a remedy for a cold day, there aren't many places where a body can get such a warming lunch — take one delicious hot sandwich, add a creamy, smooth latte, and you've got the recipe for wintertime survival.
Guillermo's Gourmet Grounds is located at 10700 Rodney Parham, Suite A2 — right behind Chili's. They're open from 7 a.m. - 8 p.m. Monday - Friday and 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. on Saturdays. Go for the excellent house-roasted coffees, but be sure to stay for a panini.
Hans Oliver has been teasing me for months now about reserving my seat at Guillermo’s Gourmet Grounds. I started coming to G3 sporadically in 2010, and over the past eight or nine months I have become a regular. It’s a good spot to groove and write for hours on end.
Of course, I wouldn’t have been there in the first place had it not been for the coffee.
In April, Little Rock newcomers Vicky and Steve Farrell plan to open The Joint, a comedy/rock club cum coffeehouse/bar, in that gaping storefront at 301 Main Street in North Little Rock. The coffee house will open for breakfast and encourage patrons to linger till late. The evening menu will include a more mellow buzz — beer and wine offerings — alongside the caffeinated buzz. They plan to offer wifi, film screenings, open mic nights and informal music events. You can take either buzz next door to the big room (seats 120), where there will be weekend comedy plays, Wednesday night improv and more formal Thursday night music events. The Farrell's are veterans of the Houston comedy circuit, where they helped launched two comedy ventures — The Comedy Workshop and Radio Music Theater. This is their first attempt at launching a coffeehouse, though. For more about The Joint, check out this post on Rock Candy.
If I really want to indulge myself, though, I could do much worse than spend a few hours in Guillermo’s Gourmet Grounds, savoring a latte and listening to the pop and sizzle of the coffee roaster.
It comes from the chef's roots along the Cache River. A "cache" pronounced "cash" can…
Yes! White River is awesome and you should all go get some of their cheese!
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