The Argenta Downtown Council and Argenta Arts Foundation have put down a flag in this once-sleepy downtown district and claimed it for the arts. By doing so, Argenta has quickly become one of the most enviable neighborhoods in the state, with 10 artists studios, galleries and between 60 and 80 events per year, including the Third Friday Argenta ArtWalk and Fourth Friday Music Walk.
Starving Artist Cafe gets literary once a week with "Tales From the South," a live dinner-and-a-show event where Southern authors, both famous and emerging, read their work for a live audience and on radio. For young artists, the Thea Foundation nurtures burgeoning painters, and performers, providing them with exhibit and workshop space and scholarships and art supplies.
If there's one thing we've learned in Central Arkansas, it's that when Bill Clinton and Mary Steenburgen come to open a place, it's going to be a big deal. Among other events, this 200-seat performance space hosts the opening night film of the Little Rock Film Festival and the Argenta Film Series, a program of local, national and international films, followed by discussions with the filmmakers.
Argenta may not have the celebrated "coffee shops" and red-light district of Amsterdam, but it certainly has the tulips. Stroll down Main Street and see the 140 flowerpots, 40 hanging baskets and 35 flower beds. On Saturdays, stop by the "certified local" farmers market, and buy fruits, vegetables, flowers, honey, soaps, bread, jams, etc. Rent bikes (River Trail Rentals), go cruising (The Arkansas Queen Riverboat), hit a concert (Verizon Arena, where Tom Petty is coming!) and visit an underwater museum (the U.S.S. Razorback at the Maritime Museum).
Every great ballpark in America has a nickname and why Dickey-Stephens (home of the AA Arkansas Travelers) hasn't become known as "The Dick" yet is baffling. That said, it's one of the best minor league parks in the country.
Start at Cregeen's for whiskey and traditional Irish fare. Move to Reno's for a great selection of beers, good food and what is quickly becoming a solid venue for live music. You just have to make it one door down to go to Cornerstone and then one more for the upscale Crush Wine Bar (have the delicious cheese plate; wine probably isn't what you need at that point). Then it's off to MacDaddy's for pool, darts and some bar food to absorb the alcohol. A late-night trip to Sidetracks can be FAB-u-lous! Sleep it all off, then head to Argenta Healing Arts in the morning for yoga or a massage to work out all the toxins.
Argenta Market, the independently owned grocery store that specializes in locally-grown produce and products, makes some of the best breakfasts and lunches around. For steaks, both foreign and domestic, head to the Wyndham Hotel and the Riverfront Steakhouse or Benihana. To get your Irish up, try Cregeen's Irish pub. For buffalo wings and music, head over to Cornerstone Pub and Grill. Starving Artist Cafe does a terrific lunch Tuesday through Saturday, and dinner on Friday and Saturday night. And do yourself a favor and try Ristorante Capeo for gourmet Italian food.
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