A venture to this state park is on the must-do list for many, the park being the only spot in North America where you can dig for diamonds and other gemstones and keep your finds.
Poncho’s Villa, which was unable to get Planning Commission permission to stay open in the evening on North Tyler Street in Little Rock, has relocated to 123 S. Jeff Davis, Jacksonville. The telephone is 241-0656.
It’s open from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from noon to 9 p.m. on Saturday. There’s no beer permit, but Poncho’s features all the familiar Tex-Mex plates that Nancy Johnson has been serving up for going on three decades, most of them at restaurants on Broadway in North Little Rock. We recommend the stuffed and fried jalapenos.
Renovation has begun on the old Freddie’s spot at Kavanaugh and Pierce in the Heights, where a new Starbucks is scheduled to open in the coming weeks.
NEW: LENNY’S SUB SHOP The sub chain brings a welcome link to the Riverdale area. It’s a bright and airy shop that’s part of a new strip center. Training shows. The staff handled the midday rush from the Alltel neighborhood with hardly a glitch. It’s the usual sub shop routine –- cold subs, hot sandwiches including meatball and Philly cheesesteak, and overstuffed sandwiches, plus a couple of salads, nearly all in the $6 range. The thing we like most is their homage to the classic Italian sub –- a fresh-baked, puffy hoagie bun stuffed with provolone, ham, prosciutto, Genoa salami and capicola (another type of salami). You want it with everything, including a shake of oregano, olive oil, zingy tomato relish and slices and banana peppers. It’s reminiscent of the late T&T Sub Shop, if not quite so overstuffed. They’ll give you extra doses of relish, too. Major drawback: Sandwich meat is sliced when ordered. That means the cold cuts come straight out of the refrigerator case. That means the sandwich stuffings are far too cold when served for the flavor of the meats and cheese to shine through. So buy one to go and wait a while. If you can. 3421 Old Cantrell Road, 661-9660. CC. $. LD daily.
UPDATE: SEVENTH STREET CAFE The storefront has housed many a restaurant operation over the years and the latest incarnation doesn’t break much culinary ground. But it’s a handy outpost for a quick, substantial and inexpensive lunch for the Capitol Avenue crowd. They’ve freshened the paint and moved smokers away from the entrance since our last visit. The Friday lunch specials came in under $7 and fried catfish –- thin, well-seasoned crunchy strips -– was served until we said quit. It came with surprisingly good slaw, crunchy hush puppies and another side vegetable. They were happy to substitute green beans for baked beans, since we were in a dieting mood. Our companion had spaghetti and meat balls, a generous portion of the standard noontime dish with a salad and a couple of slabs of garlic bread. Meal highlight: a thick wedge of red velvet cake, with a crumbly, moist crumb and plenty of icing. Burgers, soup and salads are among other choices. Servers are extra friendly though a little disorganized. Seventh and Broadway. Beer. CC $ 376-2233 BL Mon.-Fri., D Thu.-Fri.