by Kat Robinson
Fourth stop on our Breakfast Week tour takes us to Dave and Ray’s Downtown Diner in Little Rock. This slung-back diner sits on Capital Avenue and serves folks at the Federal Building, nearby restaurants and my friends over at Today’s THV.
Back when I worked there, from time to time someone would go make a breakfast run. I loved the fact that they had cream gravy. I remember how good their biscuits were, and with the gravy I could have a rare treat that I often had to pass on because of my allergies.
I decided the other day I needed to check it out and see if it was as good as I remember. Strangely enough, though I’d eaten their food many, many times -- I’d never set foot in the place.
Inside the front door, there’s a buffet-style line set up. Tables flock near the front window and in a large room beyond the cash register. I picked up a tray, loaded it with a couple of utensils, napkins and a glass of iced tea, and slid down the line.
Sure enough, there were the same biscuits and cream gravy. The lady behind the line split a biscuit for me, asked which gravy I wanted (they also have sausage gravy) and spooned it over. I took that plate and asked for a Veggie Omelet. She told me she’d bring it right out.
I had a seat near the register. The state trooper who’d been behind me in line got his order to go. There were a couple of other troopers there, always a good sign. Our law enforcement around here always find the best places to eat.
I looked at the spread in front of me. The golden biscuits were almost bright yellow below the white gravy. The first taste was like coming home. The peppery gravy matched with that sweet, buttery, flaky biscuit. I have to tell you, I know what I’m missing, not being able to eat pork gravy any more. This isn’t a perfect substitute, but it comes close and that’s close enough for me.
One of the girls behind the counter came out and delivered my Veggie Omelet ($4.25 with tax). It was pretty and just about perfect in appearance. A good-sized bite later and I was in love. Dave and Ray’s gets one thing really right. I cannot tell you how many places I’ve visited that have a Veggie Omelet on the menu, where none of the vegetables are cooked before they go in. This one… aw yeah. The big button mushroom slices had been sautéed with lovely caramelizing onions, green bell pepper, a bit of tomato and small chunks of the home fries. This omelet had a good, meaty texture to it. And there was Cheddar cheese, both inside melted with the vegetables and on top. I was so happy with it.
I had other assignments to take care of, so I had to depart. You pay at the register once you’re done, and the sales tax is already figured into the prices. My breakfast repast came to $5.50, not bad for the substantial fare I got.
Now, if you go, realize you’re going to have to pay a meter. It’s 50 cents an hour there. Don’t park in the lot -- on one side it’s monthly parking and the other it’s employee parking for another building. You’ll park on the street and that will be just fine, you hear?
You can find Dave and Ray’s just west of the Federal Building Complex at 824 West Capitol. They do carry-out, which I highly recommend if you‘re in a hurry. They also have limited delivery. (501) 372-8816.