Café 501 pleases the palate

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LACEY THACKER
  • Lacey Thacker
501 Café opened less than two weeks ago at 650 United Drive in Conway, adjacent to the new medical complex being built off Highway 365. I arrived at peak lunch time, and was surprised to find the 20-25 tables nearly empty, but I’d lay money it won’t be long until their lunch rush is significant.

501 Café serves a mix of salads, pizza, pitas, and burgers, and the menu appears on constantly-changing screens above the registers. For my main, I opted for the rosemary garlic lamb gyro with sweet potato fries. The sandwich was pretty reasonable at $9.99, and made even more so with the included sweet potato fries, which are so often an upcharge. The sandwich was excellent, even without adding any of the variety of vinegar and dressings available. The tomatoes were fresh, the onions crunchy, and the meat nicely seasoned, which, when combined in a bite, made for a surprisingly sophisticated flavor. I’m picky about sweet potato fry sauces, and so next time I might ask for them to come without the automatic drizzle of honey, but even so it wasn’t excessive. The fries themselves were rather soft and thickly cut—a perfectly nice alternative to the crispier options.
LACEY THACKER
  • Lacey Thacker
One of my companions ordered her usual salad. While it was not particularly complex, it was generous and included plenty of chicken, shredded carrots, and nine tomatoes. Companion number two ordered from the metaphorical children’s menu and ended up with a perfectly lovely grilled cheese sandwich and French fries. While I tried neither, his takeaway was that when you order a grilled cheese, this sandwich is the one you hope shows up at your table. All of our meals arrived on clean basic white plates that made for a clean presentation.
LACEY THACKER
  • Lacey Thacker

While I did not order dessert, there were several options, all rather pricey at $6.99. I’ll be having the key lime pie soon, purely for research purposes, of course.
The restaurant did suffer from slow food delivery—we waited over thirty minutes—but they are quite new. The staff was apologetic and attentive otherwise. I’m sure given a few weeks they’ll work out the kinks, and I’m absolutely willing to eat here again. If you’re in the Conway area, swing through. Their menu has something for everyone, the entrée prices are reasonable, and the food is solidly in the B+ to A- range for fast casual.

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