Upon first glance, the White House Cafe on Race Street looks like your grandmother’s cozy, country home and a true piece of Searcy history. When you take your first step inside, the interior does not disappoint.
An array of antique furniture all painted in Easter egg pastels, separate rooms from when the cafe was still a house and hand-drawn quotes hanging throughout the restaurant truly provide a comfortable, southern dining experience.
From the moment I walked in, the wait staff was incredibly cheerful and happy to have my friends and me in their humble eatery. They sat us immediately and handed us a menu full of (yeah, you guessed it) grandma’s homestyle cooking. I was instantly impressed with the college student-friendly prices ($10-15 per entrée) that were attached to the heartily portioned entrees and couldn’t wait to taste all they had to offer.
After some debate, we ordered a swiss and mushroom chicken sandwich, chicken parmesan, fried catfish and hand-breaded shrimp. Each of these entrees came with the large main dish as well as three sides of your choosing.
The catfish and the shrimp were by far the stand-out dishes of the meal. Going into the White House Cafe, I wasn’t expecting fish to be my favorite dish, but they did an excellent job. Both were perfectly cooked and breaded to perfection and would be excellent reasons to visit again. They also came with hushpuppies that our table couldn’t get enough of.
While the catfish was my favorite, the two chicken dishes were quite good as well. The swish and mushroom combination sounded odd to me at first, but I ended up enjoying it quite a bit. The meat was cooked to perfection and the mushroom flavor wasn’t too overwhelming. The chicken parmesan however, did leave a bit to be desired, especially since it was the special of the day.
While the food and prices were impressive, the thing that will keep customers, and me, going back is the strange yet fascinating atmosphere. I sat in what seemed to be an old living room of some type, with family pictures of the owners and their children’s artwork scattered about the walls. All of the employees are dressed in normal clothes and will sometimes roam the restaurant as if it is in fact their house. Children came in and out of doors and hallways with books and toys simply going about their business while we sat and ate. Conversation flowed seamlessly between my table and the members of their family and I felt as if I had been personally invited to to a family dinner in the middle of a traditional Arkansas farm home.
With such a rich experience and great food, I would highly recommend the White House Cafe to any Searcy resident or college student looking for a relaxing night of food and fun.
The White House Cafe is located at 601 E. Race Ave. and is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday.