It appears that you're using a severely outdated version of Safari on Windows. Many features won't work correctly, and functionality can't be guaranteed. Please try viewing this website in Edge, Mozilla, Chrome, or another modern browser. Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused!Read More about this safari issue.
As a coffeehouse owner, I know restaurants are brick-and-mortar hatcheries for the American dream. Some dreams take unexpected twists and turns. But in the end, the people who genuinely know and understand the hospitality business know what matters are the people and community. As you walk into the doors of Mike’s Place in Conway, you know that Mike Coats and his team understand. Coats, a Conway restaurant veteran, also knows the primary key to success is a great team, and he has built one of the best in the area.
I often venture off Petit Jean Mountain to eat at Mike’s Place for celebratory lunches and date nights. It was also a favorite lunch spot with my mom. I stopped by recently and had a lovely visit with assistant manager John McNamara.
John fit the New Orleans-style establishment’s vibe with his fantastic attire surrounded by old brick, wrought iron and an outdoor fountain. While this restaurant draws inspiration from Cajun country, they do not stay strictly in that lane. It is hard to find fault with the menu, geared to reach a broad audience in case, for some reason, someone is not a Cajun food fan.
The shrimp and cheese fritters are my preferred appetizer. They are flavorful inside and crispy outside, and are served with a house-made remoulade sauce. Mike’s serves only the highest quality shrimp, fish, and shellfish from the Gulf, and that matters. Not in the mood for seafood? The creamy spinach dip is a close second on my “to-order” list.
Her Southern roots were deep; the shrimp and grits was my mom’s favorite entrée!
For entrées, you have many options. After growing up in south Mississippi near New Orleans, I am a shrimp and grits snob. Mike’s does not disappoint. The sauce is well-seasoned but not spicy. While it does have a little kick of heat, the flavors all come together to make the dish memorable.
On my recent trip, John raved about the prime rib and ribeye. I love a good steak but have always chosen the Cajun food at Mike’s since I rarely get it outside my kitchen. That has changed since I tasted the tenderloin filet that could be cut with a butter knife. It is hand cut and cooked over a hickory wood-fired grill. All the steaks are Sterling Silver Premium Beef aged at least 21 days. One of their most popular menu items is the Arkansas-famous prime rib.
I must say, I never leave room for dessert, but the key lime pie comes highly recommended, and I have my eye on it.
Mike’s Place is in a dry county, so a private-club permit requires its patrons to undergo a minor hesitation at the door. At $5 annually, however, membership is painless, and members can bring as many guests as they like. Mikes has a fully-stocked bar with plenty of wine, beer and cocktails.
Not sure what to order? Ask the bartender. They have fantastic recommendations on fun, tasty options and what drink pairs well with your food.
C’est bon, as they say in south Louisiana — that’s good. Excellent service, an easygoing atmosphere and genuinely great food are waiting here in central Arkansas. Mike’s Place in Conway is full of character, community and Cajun in detail and spirit. Isn’t it time for you to plan a trip to Downtown Conway?
808 Front St,
Sign up for our weekly e-news.
Get stories sent straight to your inbox!
We select one featured photo per week, but we show many more in our gallery. Be sure to fill out all the fields in order to have yours selected.
Like this story? Read more from The Park Wife
Anyone who has ever spent a day picking berries at an Arkansas U-Pick...
Mother’s Day is a special day, but sometimes finding the perfect gift...
Nostalgia for simpler times, a time when family Sunday drives were the...
Join the Conversation
Leave a Comment