The Bike Stop Café in Narragansett turned out to be a case of appearances being deceiving. Located on a slightly tucked away street two blocks from the ocean, with a very heavy-on-the-bikes décor, my first reaction was “typical touristy spot.” My gut said the décor was a gimmick and a first glance at the menu – laden with buffalo wings, nachos and pizzas – read like typical shore bar food. But then I noticed the behemoth of a wood oven almost hidden to the side of the bar (if you could conceal such a thing), and a deeper reading of the menu revealed items that showed some creative stretching of that bar food theme.
So let’s dig right in, because my friend and I ordered a ton of food. We started off with a couple of Angry Orchard Crisp Apple hard ciders. The Bike Stop Café has a beer and wine license with a small, but enjoyable selection. The hard cider really hit the spot on a crazy hot day. The menu is broken down into appetizers, salads, sandwiches, tacos, entreés and wood-fired pizza – of which you can choose from around ten specialty pizzas or put together your own. The pizzas are all made with organic flour and they offer a gluten-free crust option.
We ordered BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos, Buffalo Wings, Fish Tacos and a small Tomato, Basil and Fresh Mozzarella Pizza. That may not sound like a ton as I said, but believe me, these were some very big plates, and also all very good. First up, the BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos ($12) made up of fresh corn tortilla chips topped with pulled pork, red onions, olives, jalapeño peppers and monterey jack cheese.
I realize the description says fresh corn tortilla chips, but when the nachos were put down in front of us it was still a very pleasant surprise to find they fried their own tortilla chips at The Bike Stop Café. It was a nice touch and the chips were nicely crisp and not at all oily. The nachos came with three perfect little sides of guacamole, sour cream and salsa, though we barely touched the sides other than to taste them as there was so much good food on the chips themselves. The pulled pork was very well cooked, not overly sauced, so you could really taste the pork. There was a good amount of cheese, but not too heavy, and a lot of jalapeños and olives, almost too many jalapeños, but then in my younger days I don’t think I would have ever thought there were too many jalapeños on anything.
Next up, Buffalo Wings ($9) – a large plate of ten wings with the usual celery and carrot sticks and blue cheese dressing. These were perfectly fine wings with some good spicy flavor to them; if I was looking for a quiet bar to sit at with a beer and some wings near the beach, this would certainly be a good option.
On to the Fish Tacos ($11), lightly battered fish topped with mango salsa and charred cabbage, served with a side of homemade slaw and fresh tortilla chips and salsa. These are offered as either hard or soft tortilla tacos and, since you get two tacos with the dish, we decided to try one of each. The hard shell was as good a crisp chip as the other in-house fried tortilla chips. The soft tortilla has a good flavor and may have been the better choice for these fish tacos since the fish was very lightly battered. However, as is often the case with taste, my friend and I were split on which tortilla was the better taco delivery tool. The fish was indeed light, as well as flaky and delicious, and the mango salsa tasted great, though perhaps a touch on the sweet side for my preferences.
Last, but not least was the Tomato, Basil and Fresh Mozzarella Pizza ($10.50). Anyone who follows me on social media, even casually, knows I’m pretty picky about pizza, and while I wouldn’t usually order a bar pie, there was this beautiful oven in The Bike Stop Café, and they offered such a wide selection of pizzas, I figured it was an okay place to try one. I’m happy to say this was good pizza. The dough was flavorful and there was a nice crispness to it. The toppings were fresh and it was seasoned well. Some of the other specialty pizzas read on the menu as a bit crazily overloaded with toppings, but if the quality of toppings is consistent with the rest of the food, and it’s as carefully prepared as the dishes we ate, they could be worth a try.
Overall, my friend and I walked out of The Bike Stop Café having had a very enjoyable meal with a lot of well-prepared food at a very good price. It may not be right on the beaten Narragansett path, but for me that’s part of the welcoming charm, especially during the summer. Though I can’t imagine during any time of year The Bike Stop Café would be a secret to anyone looking for a good meal.