Calico Rock is nestled in a beautiful area directly on the White River. Bluffs lining the river often have alternating streaks of black, blue, gray, orange and red that some think resemble calico cloth.
The café is located in a building that has been a shoe shop, newspaper office and printing press operation. The Calico Rock Progress was housed at the location until 1965, and the building was a shoe shop for decades following. The Printing Press Café & Ice Cream Parlor is one of many attractive, old-fashioned downtown storefronts of brick-and-stone structures that attract visitors throughout the year to Calico Rock.
The striking black-and-white décor features images of printing presses and antique items that reflect the building’s rich heritage.
The restaurant has a simple menu of tasty homemade soups, sandwiches and salads. Hand-dipped
ice cream treats include hot fudge and caramel sundaes, milkshakes, malts and cones.
“We strive to offer fresh and high-quality food for guests,” said Gloria Sanders, who manages the restaurant and is the executive director of the Calico Rock Community Foundation. “The restaurant was a labor of love that benefits the museum and community.”
Gary Gerber and Lyn Bowles of Timbo were dining during our Let’s Eat visit, enjoying a Turkey Club Sandwich and a Southwest Wrap.
“The food was excellent, very fresh and very healthy,” Gerber said. “The twice-baked potato salad was great. We will be back.”
Sanders, who operated a popular local restaurant for more than 16 years, helped develop the menu, so I asked her to surprise me with the items that I sampled.
I tried the Chef Salad, which featured fresh greens with ham, turkey, cheddar and provolone cheeses, onions, tomato, homemade seasoned croutons and house-made ranch dressing. The restaurant didn’t skimp on the toppings that blended into a fine salad.
The Calico Club Sandwich was gigantic and piled high with ham, turkey, bacon, cheddar cheese,onion,
lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise on three pieces of toasted bread. It could feed two people, but I’d still order two sandwiches, as both people will want some of the outstanding twice-baked potato salad served with each order.
The Razorback Sandwich featured hot ham and Swiss cheese on a flaky croissant. Honey mustard enhanced the warm goodness of the sandwich.
Sanders’ former restaurant served a Reuben Sandwich that was loved by patrons, so she gave the Printing Press Café an exclusive on the secret to its success. I loved this sandwich, which had nice, thick slices of
corned beef with crunchy sauerkraut, melted Swiss cheese and homemade Thousand Island dressing on marble rye bread. Turkey and tomato versions are also available. The tangy sandwich’s components were worthy of a front-page feature.
I tried an in-house daily special and scored a winner for my eyes and taste buds with the Fresh Rainbow Fruit Salad. The picture-worthy fruit — blueberries, kiwi, grapes, bananas, cherries, oranges, apples — was layered with whipped cream to create a wonderful treat.
Then I tried the ice cream. Oh, the ice cream! I think there were at least three huge scoops of Yarnell’s strawberry ice cream in the sweet waffle cone that I sampled.
When you visit the Printing Press Café, visit the Calico Rock Museum located a few doors down. I suggest enjoying a meal, visiting the museum and returning to the restaurant for some ice cream.
Dining Recommendations? Contact Rob Roedel at firstname.lastname@example.org