Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Coffee at Andina Cafe is an Awesome Way to Start a Date in Little Rock.

Little Rock’s River Market District isn't just a great destination for tourists - it's Date Night City. Whether you're meeting someone new or want to explore with an old beau, there’s a whole lot going on. Andina Cafe is the best place to commence your morning, lunch or early evening adventures.

The location - a first floor corner suite in the Tuf-Nut building at 3rd and River Market Avenue. Big roll-back windows look out on the street, offering you a great vantage point catty-corner from the Residence Inn. Andina Cafe offers a comfortable neighborhood coffee shop with a place to sit down, catch up on a little reading, and watch the wonders - and of course, scope out what's coming your way. The windows are floor-to-ceiling, and when the weather is right, they're open.

The atmosphere is comfortable but not too hip, cool but not too swank. The original Andina Cafe opened 21 years ago in the Ottenheimer Market Hall a few blocks away.  The move to the Tuf-Nut building allowed the coffee roaster and café to sync up better with its regulars, a blend of residents from within the surrounding blocks, business folks who work nearby and the ever-changing array of short- and long-stay visitors to the city.

Each morning, fresh pastries are served alongside coffee roasted just hours before.  The roaster is located in a side room sandwiched in between the main dining room and the Blue Canoe Brewing Company next door.  That room is the Tuf Nut Tap Room - and you'll often find people laughing and enjoying conversation around the roaster in there. And if you get a glimpse of your soon-to-be-met date through the windows and find yourself concerned, you can step into that room and hide behind the wall.

Throughout the day, individuals come through to select something from the case, get a freshly made coffee beverage or sit and relax in the airy main section of the shop.  Lunch specials are served during the week, ranging from Salisbury steak to meatloaf to chicken enchiladas. Salads and sandwiches are on a regular menu, and in the mornings you can purchase a made-to-order breakfast. And there are so many pastries and desserts - especially cheesecake, because nothing consoles someone who's been stood up like a creamy, dense slice of turtle cheesecake.

The coffee, though, is what keeps me coming back.  Like other coffee shops around Little Rock, there are a large number of ways to have your java, straight or sweetened or with cream or milk or any number of flavorings. Here, I like my coffee like I like my men - tall, Irish and a little off - which means I want a Tall Nutty Irishman, a coffee beverage flavored with both Irish cream and hazelnut syrups.  It’s tasty, and it’s fun to order, too.

Okay, I love the Tall Nutty Irishman, but honestly I really do like my men like I like my coffee - strong, well-ground and hot. See, you can turn it around however you like.

And if it turns out the person you're meeting to begin your morning, afternoon or evening of adventure does go along well with your coffee description, the atmosphere is lax at Andina's. Tarry over that cuppa and get to know each other a little while before you venture into the wonderland that is the Little Rock Rivermarket. One way or another, you'll find yourself deliciously caffeinated.

Andina Café is open 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Saturdays and 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Sundays.  Find more, including the menu, on the shop's website.

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