Our first introduction to Cafe 1217 was at a wedding reception they catered. We went on and on about the food. I especially drooled over the cabbage/apple slaw. The bride and groom said this was their favorite place to eat. We happened to find it the other day while in Hot Springs and decided to see if the restaurant could wow us as much as the catering. Obviously it wows lots of people from the ladies who lunch crowd to spouses on a lunch date to a business men munching away at a corner table. The menu changes monthly, but it's fresh food. No hamburgers, fries or corn dogs on the menu. Hot Springs has plenty of drive-ins to satisfy those cravings. Instead there were appetizers, salads, and sandwiches along with a lovely display case showing food available for purchase in small or large quantities. A separate display case showcases their homemade desserts. Not to be ignored are several glass canisters on the counter that entice with homemade cookies and other treats. My husband opted for the Cuban sandwich which came with a side of wild rice salad. He loved the sandwich, but being a man, didn't gush over the rice. I offered to finish it for him. I opted for the half sandwich half salad option. It was a good portion of a field green salad with strawberries and balsamic dressing. The half chicken salad sandwich was delicious too. I would have loved more, but it came on a mini roll making portion size the only disappointment. If we weren't driving back to Little Rock without a cooler, I would have loaded up on some of the entrees and side items in the display case. In addition to the restaurant and catering services, they also offer box lunches and will fix a grilled cheese or PB and J for picky little eaters. We may try the box lunch next time we head to Garvan Gardens for a picnic. It wasn't the cheapest place to eat lunch, but for fresh food that's freshly prepared, it was worth the extra cost. Check the dollar menu at the nearest fast food chain if you need to save a few bucks. But for fresh, delicious food stop in here. The food will make you forget you're sitting in the former shell of a Mexican restaurant. There's also the sweetest man taking care of the tables who will brighten your day too. On the slim chance you might not see something you like, check again next month. You might find the food of your dreams.
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