Today I met my boss, Dena Woerner, in Lonoke. We needed to get some paperwork completed and Lonoke is a good midway point between Little Rock and Marianna. Dena had heard about a relatively new restaurant and we decided to try it out!
AJ’s Restaurant is located at 616 North Center St. in Lonoke. It’s about a half-mile south of Interstate 40. The restaurant is quite roomy and can seat up to 100 people. Today it was beautifully decorated for the holidays. I fell in love with the white Christmas tree!
The ladies who work in the Arkansas Tourism Communications section have one major thing in common…we all LOVE cheese dip! Wherever we go, either in a group or individually, if there is cheese dip on the menu, we are going to order it. So Dena and I shared a small order of Angie’s cheese dip…and it was GREAT!! Very smooth and creamy, this cheese dip has a little bit of bite…but definitely not too much! It was a great way to start the meal!
After perusing the menu, I became intrigued with the orzo spinach salad that accompanies the restaurant’s grilled salmon. I wasn’t in the mood for salmon, but I really wanted to try that orzo! I asked our waitress…and shortly the dish was in front of us! I love orzo, a rice-shaped pasta that’s used a lot in cold salads. But at AJ’s, the orzo spinach salad is served warm. It is delicious! I think they should put it on the menu as a regular side dish…it’s THAT good!
As far as our lunch items, Dena decided on the catfish plate with sweet potato fries. The catfish was crispy and well seasoned. The sweet potato fries were served with maple syrup, which surprised Dena at first…but she immediately gave a thumbs-up! The catfish plate is also served with coleslaw and (one of my favorite things!) hush puppies. Dena, nice person that she is, shared a hush puppy with me. They were very light and crisp…a definite A!!
I went with the half order of Uncle Teddy’s grilled chicken salad, which features grilled chicken marinated in a secret concoction, bell peppers, onions, black olives, tomatoes, guacamole, shredded cheese and croutons. I ordered half a salad. When our waitress sat it on the table, I just assumed she misunderstood me. I told her that I actually ordered the half salad and she quickly told me that WAS the half order. As you can see by the photo…the half salad is huge! The taste of the grilled chicken totally makes this salad. It’s slightly sweet yet wonderfully tangy. A definite must-try!
We were also treated to a sample of AJ’s bruschetta. Their version features a soft warm round of slightly toasted bread with fresh tomatoes, onion, and basil. Extremely flavorful!
There was no discussion regarding dessert…Dena and I knew there was NO WAY we could handle it! However, if you’re a dessert lover, you’ll leave AJ’s very happy! A variety of scrumptious sweets, ranging from cakes to pies to cheesecakes, are offered each day. The restaurant’s old-fashioned soda fountain also offers ice creams, cookies, shakes, malts, floats and banana splits!
This may have been my first trip to AJ’s Restaurant in Lonoke…but it definitely won’t be my last!
If you’d like to try it out, AJ’s Restaurant is located at 616 N. Front St. in Lonoke, only about a half mile south of Interstate 40. They are open Mondays through Fridays from 10:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. They are closed Saturdays except for private parties. You can check out their website at www.AjsinLonoke.com. Their phone number is 501-676-0500.