Eateries Along Razorback Regional Greenway
Looking out my kitchen window, all I see is green. There’s no grassy lawn to speak of, but a wooded area of deciduous trees and undergrowth forms a wall behind the house. Although I feel as though I’m in a secluded glade, just past those backyard trees and down a small slope, there is an off-road, shareduse trail that I can glimpse only during winter months when the foliage is gone.
It is the Razorback Regional Greenway, and it runs 37 miles north to south, linking six communities and more than a half million people in Northwest Arkansas. I think of how close my home is to this community treasure, and I feel instantly connected to the other people making their home in our region.
The greenway supplies more than cozy feelings of local unity It’s a practical, public amenity that provides safe transit and access to restaurants, schools, hospitals, downtowns, businesses, historic sites, parks, playgrounds, residential communities, and shopping areas, all the way from Bella Vista to south Fayetteville.
My husband and I make frequent use of the bike trail - including his daily bicycle commute to work - and we love to stop for a bite to eat along Dickson Street in Fayetteville. It’s almost embarrassing how well-acquainted I am with the menu at Arsaga’s at the Depot, whose back patio stands merely two steps from the Frisco Trail. It is all too easy to chain my bike to a rack and pop in for an Immortal Frog smoothie - orange juice, banana, and greens - and a plain buttered crepe with raspberry jam, even when a quick, energizing ride to Wilson Park is all I had initially intended.
And Arsaga’s is not the only bike- and pedestrian-friendly eatery along the greenway. As more and more people use the trail system, businesses are increasingly installing bike racks, building patios for outdoor eating, and landscaping the sides of their buildings that face the trail. Some restaurants even set out water bowls and offer treats for pets who accompany their human companions along the trail.
Here, we’ve profiled a few of the eateries that, in addition to serving delicious food and drinks, are bike-friendly establishments that intentionally cater to those pedaling and strolling along the greenway.
Arsaga’s at the Depot
Arguably the most bike-friendly eatery along the Razorback Regional Greenway trail, Arsaga’s at the Depot provides extensive bike parking and a bike station, donated by Highroller Cyclery and Bicycle Coalition of the Ozarks, to pump up tires and perform minor repairs. Arsaga’s makes wise use of its immediate proximity to the trail by offering not only an entrance from the car parking lot, but also an equally grand trailside entrance surrounded by a large patio and well-kept landscaping.
“We try to make [the restaurant’s exterior] inviting, and we encourage people to walk in and bike in,” said Ava Arsaga, daughter of owners Cary and Cindy Arsaga.
The couple opened their first Arsaga’s coffeeshop in Fayetteville in 1992. Arsaga’s at the Depot, located in an old train freight building, casts a striking silhouette with a long, narrow structure topped with a tall chimneystack.
The interior is no less inviting or unique, with original flooring and ceiling, and an atmosphere filled with delicious smells of coffee and crepes and the friendly smiles of well-trained baristas to boot.
“What I like best about the food is that it can be really healthy or really indulgent depending on my mood,” Ava said. “The salads are really healthy and filling, and if I want a crepe with Nutella and banana, I can have that too.”
Ava appreciates that the restaurant, along with several other locations in the family chain, benefits from being so close to the greenway. This spring, the family opened a location at Church Avenue and Center Street in Fayetteville (four blocks off the greenway) that serves gourmet toast. They also plan to open a new location next to the trail tunnel crossing beneath Martin Luther Kingjr. Boulevard in south Fayetteville. There is a small structure on the property that the Arsagas envision as an ice cream and snow cone shack accessible to trail users.
Having moved to Washington state for college, Ava returned to Ozarkansas to find the region much more bike-friendly than when she had left. There are now more trails, and drivers are more accustomed to watching out for pedestrians and cyclists.
“The more people ride bikes, the more it grows,” Ava said. “You can really commute pretty well now.”
Most popular specialty drink:
Maple Street latte: a classic latte with house-made salted maple caramel
Most popular menu item:
The Brezinski Plate:
Two eggs, fresh fruit, salt and pepper tomatoes, herbed potatoes with garlic aioli, two pieces of thick slice bacon, and sourdough toast.
Blu Bentonville Fresh Fish Marketplace
Blu Bentonville Fresh Fish Marketplace is uniquely located along the greenway at the junction of three trails. Bike racks and great food make this a prime location for trail users to take a breather and refresh themselves.
The restaurant aims to provide fresh fish, crab, and lobster that will be en route to Arkansas within 10 to 12 hours after being caught by boats in Boston and Seattle. Owners Barry and Ali Furuseth moved to Northwest Arkansas after spending 25 years in the fish business on the West Coast. They saw a need for a fish house and wholesale fish company in this landlocked state, and Blu Fish was born.
Through the wholesale business, fresh fish is flown in daily to the nearby Northwest Regional Airport from Boston, Maine, Seattle, and other areas throughout the world.
Blu Fish is also home to Blu Cafe, which serves fresh, made-to-order meals in a restaurant setting. Key features include live blue crab and lobster in commercial tanks, king salmon flown in fresh from Seattle, fresh Florida grouper, wild Gulf shrimp, and live crawfish boil.
“You can walk in and see between 18 and 25 different types of fresh seafood every day,” Barry said.
Blu Cafe also serves craft beer on tap, including selections from Bentonville Brewing Co. and other local breweries. On the weekends, live local music is performed on a large, outdoor stage.
Barry is big fan of the greenway, and he also sees the potential for improvement, such as a parking lot and rest area - complete with water fountains and restrooms - behind Blu Fish’s building where the three trails meet. Barry has hired architects to draft a plan for a beautiful area between Blu Fish, the market district, and a new museum for contemporary art that is scheduled to begin construction in a few months.
“I think the trail systems are very, very exciting, and I think they’re very good,” Barry said. “I also think local businesses can all do a lot more to benefit it. We could get together and do some great things, and make it one of the greatest trail systems in the United States.”
Specialty item :
Oysters on the half shell - Blu Fish carries three to four different types of oysters daily.
Eating picnic-style in the fresh air is a joy for regulars at Crepes Paulette. Customers waiting for their meals at the food truck can watch through the two front windows as cooks prepare crepes, which are then presented hot and fresh.
The eatery’s signature buckwheat crepe is a healthy, gluten-free, and delicious traditional French food that serves as a base for a wide selection of savory crepes, using such ingredients as bacon, egg, cheese, chicken, spinach, and tomato. Dessert crepes featuring fruit, chocolate, cinnamon, nuts, jam, and house-made salted caramel are also on the menu. Crepes Paulette even offers special “pooch crepes” and fresh water for furry friend companions.
Owners Frederic and Paula Henry cultivate a friendly, casual vibe. On weekends, the atmosphere tends to be a “relaxed bustle,” Paula said, as assorted groups of people enjoy the outdoors together with a convivial spirit. During the week, it is much the same but with a heightened efficiency because many customers are on tight schedules.
As an outdoor, curbside business, pedestrians and cyclists constitute the bulk of Crepes Paulette’s business. The food truck sits just north of the downtown Bentonville square, directly on the A Street trail sharrow - a shared roadway section of the greenway connecting the Town Branch Trail to the south and Crystal Bridges Trails to the north.
The location lacks bike racks, but creative cyclists can find spots to secure their bicycles; most customers, however, simply sit within eyeshot of their bikes.
Paula said that the greenway is an invaluable addition to the outdoor life of Northwest Arkansas.
“It encourages all levels of bikers, from beginners to elite, to enjoy the natural beauty of the area and move within it without a car,” she said. “It will continue to bring elite cyclists and enthusiasts to the area to explore.”
Note: Crepes Paulette is opening a second location this summer at 706 S. Main St. in Bentonville.
Most popular savory crepe:
The Spicy Chicken: with chicken, mild cheddar, salsa, egg, and butter, wrapped in a buckwheat crepe
Most popular sweet crepe:
Nutella: with strawberries or bananas
The Farmer’s Table Café
Going to the Farmer’s Table Cafe in south Fayetteville is like walking into an Ozarkansas home and asking for food service. Fresh flowers on the table, drinks served in blue Mason jars, and mismatched cloth napkins reinforce that “at home” feeling.
The restaurant, which opened in May 2014, is located in a 1,500-square-foot yellow brick home. It seats up to 25 people indoors and has space for 30 more on the patio. The wait can be long, particularly on weekends, but guests don’t seem to mind. In warm weather, guests can play lawn games, listen to (or perform) spontaneous live music, or drink coffee or mimosas as they wait for a table.
Owners Rob and Adrienne Shaunfield are setting the gold standard for local sourcing in the restaurant business. They source year-round, reaching and maintaining levels of 90 percent locally sourced items on their menu.
“Local always and first” is the motto Adrienne said they strive to uphold. They pride themselves on working with small, sustainable family farms to purchase their meats, vegetables, and fruits. The meat is pasture raised and pasture finished, as well as animal welfare certified and fed with non-GMO feed. Their produce is organic and chemical-free.
“In our tiny 10-table cafe, in our first full year of operation, we invested over $200,000 into our local food economy and helped several farmers increase their markets and revenue streams,” Adrienne said. “This is such a big deal. Just imagine if others did the same. Keeping our dollars local and increasing our food system production truly add to the health and vibrancy of our community.”
Adrienne said they believe every step of the cooking process should be as healthful as possible. “We use only organic coconut oil, butter, and olive oil in all our cooking. You won’t find Crisco here.”
To keep food waste to a minimum, the cafe makes use of all available parts of foods: root vegetable tops are sauteed, vegetable scraps are turned into stocks, and chicken carcasses are slow-cooked into bone broth. They partner with home gardeners by giving them eggshells to build soil and food scraps to feed chickens. They are also part of the City of Fayetteville’s composting pilot program.
The Farmer’s Table continues these practices in its successful catering business.
“In all catering, we have a food recovery plan to avoid food waste,” Adrienne said. “Most often, we deliver leftovers to the nearest food pantry or a community meals program, but we always ensure that the food is not wasted.”
The cafe is at the beginning of the greenway when approached from the south, and Adrienne said they frequently have individuals eat breakfast there before getting on the trail. “I think it’s fun that we get to fuel their journey. We have limited parking, so we love to see people ride their bikes.”
The cafe continues to broaden its scope. Recently expanded hours now include dinner service, and the schedule for its monthly “dine and learn” series is posted on the website.
Most popular menu items:
Two local free-range eggs any style, a handmade biscuit topped with choice (sausage or vegetarian) gravy, house potatoes, and choice Animal
Welfare Approved local ham, sausage, bacon, or local sauteed greens
Benny on a Biscuit:
An Ozark version of eggs benedict: Two local free range eggs, poached, choice Canadian bacon or sauteed greens on a handmade biscuit, topped with housemade hollandaise sauce
Beans, Greens & Cornbread:
Organic pinto beans and local greens stewed for hours in a ham-hock broth, served with organic War Eagle Mill cornbread and local honey whipped butter - a staple for the Shaunfield family
Opened in February 2013, The Hive restaurant located inside the 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville showcases the unique culinary identity of Ozarkansas with refined country cuisine. Designed by Deborah Berke Partners - a New York-based architecture and design firm - The Hive is owned and operated by 21c Museum Hotels, and it serves hotel guests and locals alike.
“Our approach to food and cooking is very unique to Northwest Arkansas,” said Matthew McClure, The Hive’s head chef. “It starts with how we source, handle, and prepare high-quality ingredients. We are passionate about the cooking - that’s our foundation. We are constantly challenging ourselves to improve. This culture is what makes the guest experience unique and unexpected.”
The Hive is open seven days a week and serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night meals. It features fresh fish flown in, an inventive cocktail program that complements the dishes, syrups and shrubs made in-house, and a menu kept as seasonal as possible. The delicious food and cocktails coupled with the personable service and contemporary artwork that fills the restaurant create a fun and comfortable atmosphere.
With the greenway running right in front of the building along A Street in Bentonville, The Hive is especially bicycle friendly. It offers bike valet and options to store bikes while guests enjoy a meal or take in the art. Bike racks and bike lockers are also available. Located between the downtown Bentonville square and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, The Hive is a convenient destination for pedestrians and cyclists.
“The greenway trail is another example of how our community is investing in the quality of life for its citizens,” Matthew said. “I love the trail system, especially because it draws more visitors to the area.”
Most popular items:
Berkshire Hog Chop, butcher plate, dry aged beef tartar; and house-made cavatelli pasta
Spring and summer specialty cocktail:
Wild Coast - a tiki-style cocktail
Near the midpoint of the greenway, in downtown Springdale, The Steam restaurant has breathed new life into a historic building. Owners Dino and Melanie Vergura opened the restaurant in july 2015 after renovating the building with reclaimed woodwork and windows and decorating with trains, gears, pipes, and metal. Maintaining the building’s history and incorporating aspects of Springdale’s industrial heritage was important to the Verguras.
“Springdale was built by hard-working people,” Melanie said. “Craftsmen, farmers, carpenters, and more, and to this day you can see and feel that pride throughout our locally owned businesses here.”
The Steam offers locally sourced, high-quality food that is handcrafted at the time of order. Burgers, sandwiches, pasta, soups, and salads constitute the menu, and the half-pound Angus sirloin burgers are seasoned and hand-pattied in house. Their grilled “sammiches” are stacked with grilled meats, melted cheese, and buttery toasted brioche buns and breads. Soups, sauces, dressings, pesto, hummus, creams, and desserts are made in house with quality ingredients. Gluten-free bread and pasta options are also available.
“We really do strive for the customer to taste the love in our food,” Melanie said. “As the owner and chef, I care about how the food looks, how it tastes, [and] how easy is it to eat and share with a friend. [Since The Steam is] a family owned and operated restaurant, [guests] are very likely to have a member of our family as a server or bartender as well.”
The Steam has an 800-square-foot back patio, complete with bike racks and a water station for dogs. Future plans include a walk-up misting station for relief on extra-hot days.
The greenway runs right past The Steam on Emma Avenue and hooks around to the back of the building so that the restaurant’s front and patio entrances are both accessible from the trail. Melanie describes the greenway as a main artery supplying necessary business along the trail from end to end.
“Springdale is lucky enough to be at the heart of the trail,” she said. “I am always asking our trail trekking customers how they enjoy it, and they absolutely love ... how accessible it is. I see families out for walks and fitness enthusiasts stopping here for a break on the 30-mile ride. I believe the best of Springdale is yet to come, and we are very excited to see it and to be a part of it.”
Most popular lunch choices:
Avocado Turkey & Swiss Sammich; Cheesy Steam Steak; and burgers
Most popular dinner choices:
Signature Prime Rib; sirloin steaks
Wood Stone Craft Pizza & Greenhouse Grille
On the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and South School Avenue in Fayetteville, two sister restaurants back up to the greenway. Owned by Jerrmy Gawthrop and Clayton Suttle, Wood Stone Craft Pizza + Bar and Greenhouse Grille delight guests with casual and elevated menu items that are locally and regionally sourced while each occupies its own culinary niche.
Wood Stone, established in August 2014, offers pizzas that are outside of the box in design and flavor profile. The “Bird’s Nest” pizza, for instance, features asiago creme, crushed chili, Parmesan, Applewood smoked sea salt, shaved asparagus, and four over-easy eggs atop a wood-fired crust. Small plates, salads, craft beers, and cocktails are also on the menu.
The restaurant has embraced a comfortable Ozark decor of wood and stone installations with large canvases of black and white nature images. Guests can watch the wood-fired oven in action. A patio and bike rack make it a convenient location to pop in to refuel during a ride along the trail.
Nearby Greenhouse Grille has been serving award-winning “conscious cuisine” since 2006, with seasonally rotating menus and weekly specials. The restaurant’s atmosphere is minimalistic, cozy, and casual, with paintings by local artist George Dombek, featuring his newest series of old Arkansas barns. Trail users can also order from the restaurant’s food truck and either grab and go or relax for a while at recently opened back yard eating area, complete with picnic tables and string lights.
“The trail is one of the most beneficial additions to Northwest Arkansas in recent history,” Jerrmy said. “It activates the community’s need to have other commuting options in a healthy manner - for both the user and the environment.”
Wood Stone Craft Pizza signature item:
K-BBQ Pizza: pickled vegetables and chili mayo on top of smoked local pork with a Korean barbecue sauce
Greenhouse grille signature item:
Sweden Creek Farm Shiitake Mushroom Fries