Cafe 1217 is healthy and delicious counter-service bistro just off the main drag in Hot Springs. The quaint little cafe is located at 1217 Malvern Avenue, and visitors will be delighted at the creations of chef and owner Diana Bratton. The menu is an eclectic mix of health-friendly entrees made with farm to table ingredients. The restaurant is a member of the Arkansas Grown program, supporting local farmers through purchasing local products. An array of fresh vegetable sides, hand rolled tamales or stuffed cabbage rolls are just some of the excellent options at 1217—and every craving is sure to get hit.
Walking into the cafe, the first thing diners see is a glass case counter filled with the day’s available items. Bulk vegetable dish sides such as German roasted potatoes or Thai broccoli salad can be purchased in bulk (as well as individually) for $9.25 a pound—and a pound feeds anywhere from 4-6 people. The roasted Brussels sprouts and buttermilk squash that I tried were perfectly seasoned, and some leaves of the Brussels sprouts were lightly charred, which I tend to prefer with some veggies because it allows them to somewhat melt in your mouth.
Entree salads start at nine dollars. I enjoyed the Warm Pecan Crusted Goats Cheese, consisting of local greens and baby spinach, strawberry quarters, candied pecans, pickled onions and strawberry poppy seed dressing. The two fried goats cheese medallions were fried to perfection, warm throughout without leaving a runny center. The dressing is a little on the sweet side, but it’s a fruit sweetness as opposed to heavy sugar, with a bit of tartness which really complemented the pickled onions.
For those on a gluten-free diet, there are over twenty menu items offered, including gluten-free muffins. Most sandwiches can be prepared gluten-free on request, with a Dempsey’s Bakery bread option for a $3 up-charge. Sandwiches start nine dollars and are served with Dijon-mayonnaise and either the “salad of the day” or garlic-pepper potato chips. The wine list is short and sweet, with favorites such as La Crema Chardonnay and Kings Estate Pinot Gris, both available in half bottles, while the beer list consists of Stella Artois, Blue Moon, Lagunitas IPA and Michelob Ultra. A small ice tea bar sits beside the register, and each day the cafe features a fruit-infused ice tea in flavors such as kiwi strawberry.
Because of the seasonality of the ingredients used, Cafe 1217 updates and changes its menu monthly. The cafe offers box lunches and full-service catering as well, with a catering coordinator in-house. With 48 hours notice they will also prepare any of their monthly menu items in a large quantity, including any of their homemade pies. It’s a fresh and fantastic way to taste the best of each season, all prepared with the attention to quality and detail that has made Cafe 1217 a Hot Springs go-to for many years.