Monthly Feature, By Woo Pig Foodie and Kevin Shalin
Woo and Kevin will check out a local restaurant, each at different times, and then write separate reviews. This month, they visit Brewsters 2 Soul Food Cafe.
From the outside, Brewsters 2 looks like a dark old lounge that’s seen its better days. There’s no good parking, either. Don’t let that turn you away. I park across the street next to that old closed up bakery. But get on inside and take a gander at that big menu. There’s the fried side where you get your choice of catfish, chicken, porkchop or shrimp, and there’s the big wing menu, and then there’s the burger and sandwich menu. It’s a big beast of a menu, and I didn’t know where to begin. So, like any good gastronome, I omakase’d this and asked the lady at the register to just go ahead and feed me.
She chose what ended up being the best catfish of my life. I got three really nice pieces of catfish, some fries, sweet potatoes and hush puppies. The catfish was nice and crunchy, not all greasy like it can be at other places. You know that crunch; the kind of dry crunch that can stand up to tartar sauce or ketchup or both tartar sauce AND ketchup and keep coming back for more. There was nothing muddy in the background either—just all good eating.
The next time I stopped by I omakase’d again and she ordered me this beautiful fried pork chop plate with black eyed peas, turnip greens and two cornbreads. I got my pork chop fried, but they also do it dressed with gravy. That’s a hard choice to make. I might order the double pork chop plate the next time and fry them both, dressing just one chop.
I really loved this pork chop. It was all savory tender meat with a nice crispy crunchy coating. A chop so good I kept saying mmmn mmmn as I tore through it. I thought the sides were good, but may have wanted a little more salt on the peas. Good thing they have that tableside. The turnip greens had a nice savory vinegar to them, and a deep flavor from the pot. There was a nice spoon of pot likker over the top. I added some hot sauce. Dare I say it, but I think this is a serious contender for the best plate lunch in town.
On my next visit, I ordered for myself, choosing the bacon cheeseburger with fries. The burger came with a great smoky smell. It had a nice char; not too much not too little. And mercy me, it was beautifully hand formed. I know I’m putting Brewsters 2 on the list for a second time, but this bacon cheeseburger needs to be a contender for best burger in Little Rock. It comes served with cold iceberg lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and some fries. The fries are good but I’d like them fried a minute longer and salted more heavily.
Service is great. At Brewsters 2 they’re glad to see you, and glad to feed you. Katina will help you in the dining room, which, by the way feels a little bit like someone’s living room, especially when the tv’s tuned to Judge Mathis. Katina will fetch you a refill on your drink, bus your table, and take good care of you. Be sure to leave her a couple bucks.
Brewsters 2 is all professional. A heavy hitter. It is clear that they take the food business seriously—their food is top notch and the staff is super pleasant. This place isn’t a hidden gem, it’s the whole tiara. Go get you some.
I’ve always enjoyed walking into Brewsters, mainly during the summer months when it’s sizzling outside, because the restaurant provides a cool, dark, cave-like setting to enjoy the best fried catfish in town. Granted, it’s been a while since my last visit, but based on yesterday’s lunch, not much has changed with my thinking about the catfish, and for that matter, the rest of the food at Brewsters.
I ordered the 4-Piece Catfish Dinner, which comes with two sides (I choose yams and greens). You also get two cornbread muffins and some fresh tomato and onion with each order. Brewsters is fast casual, so just walk through the doors, order at the register, sit down, and within minutes, your food hits the table.
My catfish came out piping hot and maintained its heat throughout the meal. It was a perfect fry job, not greasy, and absolutely delicious. The clean-tasting, crispy, cornmeal battered thin fish was a touch salty, but even with this slight issue, Brewster’s version still maintains my top spot in Little Rock.
As for the greens and yams?
The tender, subtly bitter greens were, much like the catfish, a little salty. However, once mixed with the sweet yams, all was right in the world. The accompanying cornbread muffins didn’t impress me at first, but that’s before I discovered they were the perfect sponge for the pool yam and greens juice.
Hey, I even got some chicken wings to-go. At Brewsters, you can get your wings Country Style (fried) or Sweet Heat (tossed in sauce). I went with the latter. Granted, they did travel about 15 minutes before I tore into them at home, but I wanted the wings to be crispier. The taste was a little Tabasco heavy for my preference and I wanted a little more balance with the sweet and spicy flavors. They weren’t bad, but next time I’ll probably stick with the fried catfish or a cheeseburger. That’s right, even though I didn’t get one this time around, Brewsters does a pretty mean burger.
All and all, it was a satisfying lunch at Brewsters, highlighted by excellent fried catfish and some of the friendliest service around.
Brewsters 2 Soul Food Café
2725 S Arch St, Little Rock, AR 72206
Hours: Monday-Friday 11a-7p
Phone: (501) 301-7728