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While Arkansas is a land-locked state, we do have several excellent options to dine on the water. Here are my 5 favorite spots. What are yours?
Little Rock has very few restaurants with a view of the Arkansas River (which is an absolute travesty), but the capital city is home to Brave New Restaurant and its gorgeous patio perched above the nearby water. Because of expansive windows, even indoor diners have a nice view of the river. The setting is upscale and romantic, yet unpretentious, all characteristics chef/owner Peter Brave and his crew have maintained for three decades through consistently delicious food and attentive service. No matter where you sit, inside or out, just make sure to order the scallops or the Mixed Grill or the walleye special or the duck. Well, you get the picture.
The name pretty much says it all. Dondie’s is a massive restaurant in the shape of a replica riverboat that sits near the White River in Des Arc. Check them out on a Saturday evening when it seems like the entire countryside is dining on a buffet filled with fried catfish, hushpuppies, and crawfish (just to name a few items). Trust me, the experience is an event like no other in Arkansas and the view of the White River from the upstairs dining hall is pretty darn nice to boot.
Speaking of fun spots on the White River. JoJo’s Catfish Wharf in Mountain View fits the bill. Yet another institution serving up some of the very best fried catfish you’ll find in the state, JoJo’s has a fun, festive, open-concept dining hall with views of the White River. The unlimited hushpuppies are also a nice draw, but so too is the salad boat located along one of the far walls. I don’t know about you, but I am a fan of any restaurant with a salad boat. Actually, JoJo’s is the only one I know of, which makes the Mountain View gem tops in my book.
Melt away the stress with a late afternoon dinner on Fisherman’s Wharf’s patio located right on beautiful Lake Hamilton. The tranquil, laid-back setting is just as ideal for a large group of friends or family as it is for a romantic dinner for two. Try to get a table as close to the water as possible and watch the lake life comings and goings for the next hour or two. Kick back with a cold beer and pair it with one of Fisherman’s fish dishes, like the grouper or mahi-mahi.
Just stay with me for a second on this one. No, Bean Me Up Creekside isn’t located near a massive river or even a small lake, but there is nothing as relaxing as grabbing a cup of Joe and heading outside to this coffeehouse/café’s patio which hangs above a bustling creek. The gurgle of nearby flowing water from down below coupled with the sun on your back and the sight of tiny schools of fish hanging out is pure utopia. Trust me, next time you’re in Eureka Springs, seek out this hidden gem located slightly off the beaten path in downtown.
Photos courtesy of Fisherman’s Wharf and Dondie’s.
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