Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
Hey, party people! Yes, the Rumba Revolution patio is a fabulous place for warm-weather happy hours. Yes, the Rev Room rocks with some of the biggest-name, best bands we can see in these parts.
But surely somewhere in the course of all that drinking and jamming you want/need to eat, don't you? Well you can do that — and do it well — at Rumba (Revolution, aka the Rev Room, is the club side of the complex).
Purely anecdotal research suggests dinner business isn't brisk at Rumba, and that's somewhat surprising given the breadth of the menu, the creativity of the selections and the quality of the entrees we've tried. We're betting the perception of Rumba as a bar/nightclub stunts dinner business, even in an entertainment district that can use more viable options.
Another theory: Many first-timers are likely drawn to Rumba's extensive tapas menu — a collection of bite-sized selections that are generally low priced (even more so on Tuesday nights, when all tapas are half-price). Tapas were our first foray into Rumba's food, and we weren't particularly fond of them, which in turn delayed our return visit.
However, when we finally got back to Rumba we dove into a plate of fabulous pulled pork enchiladas, two delightfully gnarly tortillas stuffed with tender pork and surrounded by piles of tender, tasty rice and black beans — a bargain at $7.99. And, just that quickly, Rumba was on our A-list.
Reinvigorated about the place, we revisited the tapas our last time in, but we still aren't keen on them. The chorizo and potato empanadas were doughy and bland; the four bacon-wrapped scallops were tiny and tough. But the two entrees we ordered were excellent.
We ordered our fish tacos ($8.99) blackened (grilled and breaded are the other choices) and were happy with the plump, spicy fillets that overstuffed the smallish flour tortillas, accented nicely with a dollop of spicy sauce. Two were plenty, particularly when teamed with black beans (they needed salt) and Mexican rice.
But even better, heftier and more creative was “Ay Caramba!” ($12.99), a Bible-sized slab of Mexican casserole like you might encounter at an office potluck. Shards of shredded chicken were the dominant feature, accented by onions, peppers and plenty of cheese and spices, the melange layered between corn tortillas. It was cheesy, just-right greasy and easy to love. A small Caesar salad seemed like an odd, not exactly on-theme choice as an accompaniment, but it was fine.
For a follow-up lunch, we chose two “presses,” the most interesting sounding sandwiches on the menu: the Puebla Press (smoked turkey with guacamole, lettuce, tomato and pepper jack) and the Black & Bleu Press (chunks of steak with gorgonzola, sauteed onion and bell pepper). Both were tasty but frankly a bit puny, even with a side of battered fries, for the $7.99 and $8.49 price tabs, respectively.
Next in our series of rambles to Rumba will be brunch, served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 3 p.m. Sundays. There are four Latinesque choices — we can't envision NOT getting a Benedict that features chorizo, chicken hash and chipotle hollandaise — and three Gringo goodies. It's hard to go wrong with eggs and a slab of Petit Jean ham, and apple pancakes topped with cinnamon improve any menu. Plus there's a BYOBMB — a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar!
If the bar side of the Rumba operation does appeal to you, know that more than two dozen tequilas and almost as many rums are featured, as are good happy hour deals. But don't get so hung up on the bar and music scenes that you forget to dig into some Rumba entrees. After all, man doesn't live by bourbon and B-chords alone.
300 President Clinton Ave.
We'd put the pulled pork enchiladas up against the enchiladas served at any of the more traditional Mexican restaurants in town.
11 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week (bar open until 1 a.m. Thursday through Sunday).
Full bar. Credit cards.