Arsaga’s still has the best mocha I’ve ever tasted. Maybe what I’m tasting is the flavor of nostalgia? When I came to Fayetteville eons ago for college, the first Arsaga’s location by the square was a favored hangout, not only for myself, but for pretty much everyone I knew. It was the place I first learned to love espresso, the bitter-sweet distillation of coffee magic, the beautiful golden brown crema promising not just flavor, but energy to write, to think, to talk endlessly with friends.
Arsaga’s was the first place I learned to love Italian sodas, splashes of flavored syrup over sparkling, bubbly water, with perhaps a splash of cream. Such a simple idea, really, at the time, but also a revelation.
The first location of Arsaga’s is long gone. But I like to think that a little of that spirit is there in every other location. The old train Depot is an amazing location, full of the kind of eclectic character (and characters) you’d expect from Fayetteville. From the amazing food and drinks to the art exhibited on the walls, it’s simply a magical place, unique and special.
Now on to the nitty-gritty.
My wife and I never got to go on our anniversary trip in June, so when we had the opportunity to spend a little time alone this weekend (Crystal Bridges, the Tontitown Winery and a stay overnight at the Chancellor on the Square), we knew that breakfast the morning after had to be at the Arsaga’s Depot.
Of course, when we got there the staff were friendly and professional. Pretty much exactly what you’d expect. It’s really one of the few places I’ve never had a bad customer service experience, which speaks volumes to the quality of people that work there.
We were seated in the little room in the back (it was probably obvious that the old married couple needed an intimate place to smile goofily at each other).
Soon, my mocha was brought to me. The marriage of espresso, semi-sweet chocolate and steamed milk, the mocha is one of the pure pleasures in life. Perhaps a guilty pleasure, but one that’s amazingly good for the soul.
This mocha was no exception. I confess, I do love the coffee at Onyx. But a mocha from Arsaga’s will always be my one true love. The only other place whose mocha even rivals theirs is the Broadway Cafe in Kansas City (perhaps another taste of nostalgia; that’s where my wife and I spent our honeymoon, ages ago).
To say that it warmed my body up from the inside, and gently energized my brain would be an understatement. It was warm and sweet, with a slight undertone of bitterness from the espresso, a little liquid cloud of delight.
Of course, to counteract the sinfulness of the mocha I had to order something semi-healthy to eat. That’s why I ended up ordering the Chef salad.
Yes, there’s a metric ton of turkey, ham, chicken and swiss cheese, but it’s all served on a bed of salad greens with walnuts and tomatoes, so you don’t have to feel bad about it. It comes with balsamic dressing or herbed ricotta cheese (I got the balsamic, and it was delightful). They also serve it with a boiled egg and a cornmeal crepe. I got the whole, rather than the half order, and it was almost too much for me to eat. However, I did my best and ended up eating the whole thing. Yay me!
Finally, my wife ended up ordering the Tex Mex on the Riviera.
This is chorizo, spinach and queso fresco served in crepes with a fried egg and potatoes. My wife seemed to really enjoy the chorizo and spinach combination. She seemed really happy by the end of her meal, I’m glad to report.
In short, Arsaga’s at the Depot is an amazing place, one we don’t get to nearly often enough. This kind of local flavor and quality should be encouraged and cherished.
Sorry about the horrible old out of date iphone picture quality.
I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things here, as far as blogging is concerned. Look for at least another post later this week.