If you’re looking for great food, several Hot Springs restaurants will definitely exceed your expectations in the best of ways.
I’m sharing more about the best restaurants to visit during your visit to Hot Springs, Arkansas for the first time.
Lunch at McClard’s BAR-B-Q
505 Albert Pike Rd, Hot Springs National Park, AR
Not much has changed with this family business that has been serving up incredible barbecue since 1928.
McClard’s BAR-B-Q is a Hot Springs staple now operating under its 4th generation of family members.
This is the perfect place to start your culinary adventures in Hot Springs with friendly service that makes you instantly feel at home.
McClard’s BAR-B-Q is one of the favorite restaurants of both locals and tourists alike for a casual meal.
Fun fact: Bill and Hilary Clinton ate in the same booth for their honeymoon that we dined at during our visit.
They haven’t strayed from their great grandfather’s philosophy to “Use the best ingredients you can get, buy the best quality cuts you can get, and don’t skimp on any portions.”
I can definitely verify that they don’t skimp on the portions or the quality! I would recommend trying a few types of meat including ribs, pork, and smoked sausage.
Speaking of portions, you definitely won’t leave this restaurant hungry!
They make the side dishes daily onsite using the great grandfather’s recipes including their amazing coleslaw.
I realize coleslaw is typically either really good or really bad. Their coleslaw is chopped really fine with some sweetness and LOTS of pepper…and it’s SO GOOD!
A unique menu item to try is their tamale spread. It was originally a way to reduce waste.
A “Whole Spread” is served with two tamales, Fritos, beans, chopped beef, cheese, and onions.
Save room for the carrot cake made by Dave’s Carrot Cakery.
Enjoy a Taste of Coastal Italian Cuisine at J&S Italian Villa
4332 Central Ave B, Hot Springs, AR
This Italian restaurant offers a fine dining experience serving high-quality food with excellent service and a great selection of wines.
We tried so many delicious foods that it’s hard to pick a favorite of the evening.
We started with the Large Charcuterie Board that serves 6 people.
The Large Charcuterie Board is filled with the Chef’s selection of specialty meat & cheeses, olives, pickled vegetables, toasted nuts, fig jam, and honeycomb.
The tasting portion of Butternut Squash Soup (Crema di Zucca) was not something that I’m typically drawn to.
The combination of flavors and textures had me wishing for a few more bites…but I had to save room for what was to come.
Our table strategy was to order several different menu items so that we could try a little bit of everything for the win!
Each dish was beautiful in presentation and even better to taste with seasonal menus created by 2-Michelin Star Chef Sascia Marchesi and Chef Wil Wright.
The menu offers seafood, steak, and house pasta served with vegetables and other items sourced as locally as possible.
The lasagna on the menu is a family recipe of the chef’s grandmother.
Make sure that you save some room for dessert… or at least commit to sharing dessert.
The Tiramisu and Vanilla bean crème Brulee are great options.
There is a bar in addition to the dining area. For a more intimate dining setting, you can reserve The Red Room for a special occasion.
Enjoy a Meal and Craft Beer at Superior Bathhouse Brewery
329 Central Avenue, Hot Springs, AR
Superior Bathhouse Brewery is the first brewery and the only brewery in the world to use thermal spring water as the main ingredient for its beer. It’s also the only brewery in a United States National Park.
Located on Bathhouse Row, Superior Bathhouse Brewery resides inside a historic building dating back to 1916 that was formerly a bathhouse in Hot Springs National Park.
The bathhouse closed in 1983 and was vacant for 30 years.
Thankfully Rose Schweikhart reimagined the space to become a brewery through a LOT of creativity and perseverance to pioneer something that had never been done before.
Rose shared that she was a tubist who had the opportunity to travel all over the world and fell in love with beer in the process.
She had the foresight to see the need for a craft brewery in Hot Springs…and we’re so glad that she did!
She persevered through the intimidating amount of forms, documentation, and building codes to sign a lease for the building with the Department of Interior. She kept going when others would have given up.
Superior Bathhouse Brewery has been brewing beer since 2014.
Check out some of the pictures of the renovation process that includes showing how the brewery equipment was transported through the front windows on the North side.
This unique dining experience is a great addition to a traditional bath at Buckstaff Bathhouse or a dip in a giant thermal hot tub at Quapaw Bathhouse located within walking distance of the brewery.
Hot spring water flows into the brewery. All of the 47 springs in the National Park are closely monitored by park staff with regular testing before distribution to the area bathhouses, jug fountains, and brewery.
We happened to be there during a routine check of water samples being taken from the hot spring taken onsite by National Park staff during our visit.
The beer is brewed inside the former men’s bath hall. The beer flavors are approachable for everyone. They don’t can or bottle so they can be more creative with their flavors.
I also want to note that the extremely friendly staff added to our experience that day.
Superior Bathhouse Brewery has a wide variety of craft beer styles to choose from. I typically prefer sours over traditional beer when it comes to craft beer.
For my flight I opted for the following:
- Basic peaches – Peach sour
- Spicy ride – Jalapeño ale
- Hot girl sour -Pickle habanero sour
- The Beez Kneez- Fresh Basil
The peach sour and pickle habanero sour were my favorites.
I would also recommend trying their “World Famous Root Beer” made with thermal spring water and real honey.
For their food, as well as their beer they source locally whenever possible for their menu items which appeal to a range of foodies with traditional and elevated options.
For starters, you can’t go wrong with the Bavarian soft pretzel or beer cheese dip.
I enjoyed the Bahn Mi pork sandwich made with Gochujang pork, cilantro, cucumber, ginger-chili mayo, and Namasu served on French bread.
For my side, I LOVED their fried plantains. They were thick and sweet, served warm, the perfect combo of sweet and savory.
Superior Bathhouse Brewing has seating indoors or you can enjoy outdoor dining on a beautiful day. The outdoor patio has great views of Arlington Lawn nearby.
Well-behaved dogs on a leash with up-to-date shots are allowed on the patio in case you are traveling with a pet.
Elevated Breakfast Classics With a Twist at Best Cafe & Bar
632 Ouachita Ave, Hot Springs, AR
Best Cafe & Bar offers classic American breakfast dishes with a twist in a building that dates back to 1933.
This popular restaurant is also open for lunch and known as one of the best spots for Sunday brunch too.
Best Cafe & Bar is located adjacent to Best Court Cottages that’s also been serving overnight travelers since 1933. There is even a rumor that Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe stayed in their corner suite.
Best Court Cottages still keep the 1930s charm with modern conveniences.
The dining space at Best Cafe & Bar is cozy and thoughtfully curated with vintage pictures and dining chairs.
The delicious breakfasts come with great service from the staff.
I’m amused pretty easily and the color-changing coffee mug was a fun start to my breakfast experience.
There are hand-crafted cocktails available in addition to traditional breakfast beverages.
The “It Don’t Mean a Thing” is a great option if you prefer a Bloody Mary. It’s made with a house-made Bloody Mary mix and Effen cucumber vodka.
If you prefer variety, try a Mimosa flight with your four flavors of choice.
If you love french toast you’ll want to try the Crème brûlée toast.
The dish has salted dulce de leche butter, grilled pineapple, and your choice of house-made sausage patties, applewood smoked bacon, duck bacon, or Nueskes bacon.
If you’re in the mood for a more savory dish I would recommend trying the “Fried Chicken Benny.”
The dish has an in-house chive biscuit, fried chicken biscuit, two poached eggs, hollandaise, spicy buffalo sauce, and home fries.
The “Crispy Brussels” is another great option. The Brussel Sprouts are served with a sweet and spicy glaze, poached egg, coconut carrot puree, and Togarashi Spice.
Caffeinate at Kollective Coffee + Tea
110 Central Ave, Hot Springs, AR
Kollective Coffee + Tea is a local artisan tea and coffeehouse/ cafe that specializes in high-quality local and organic products paired with beautiful presentation.
They are passionate about high-quality coffee and tea and it shows!
Coffee is both a science and art form at this cafe.
The menu has a wide variety of loose-leaf teas and coffee-style preferences to choose from.
They also have packages with coffee and tea for sale if you want to take some back with you.
If you’re pairing your drink with a meal you’ll be happy to discover that their fresh food is void of any GMOs, preservatives, or harmful pesticides.
I opted for the “Grown up grilled cheese panini.”
The delicious sandwich is made with slices of fresh Havarti, gouda, and brie cheese, topped with tomato slices on rustic sourdough bread. I chose a side salad to help balance my sandwich choice.
My friends were a bit more self-disciplined with their menu choices…but I did have some salad.
One chose the Quinoa salad with cucumber, tomato, feta, and fried egg pictured above.
And the other chose the detox salad made with a baby spring mix, berries, walnuts, white cheddar, and seasonal Evil O’s balsamic vinaigrette.
The walls of the building dating back to the late 1800s display rotating pieces from artists.
The open mic poetry night at Kollective is the longest running consecutive weekly open mic series in the country.
Dinner at Deluca’s Pizzeria
831 Central Ave, Hot Springs National Park, AR
If you are looking for an Italian restaurant with good food and good service you’ll LOVE Deluca’s Pizzeria.
We discovered that the menu of this New York-style pizza joint expands well beyond a great pie.
I’d recommend grabbing a group of friends to explore and sample a range of menu items family-style.
And yes, we’re all wearing bibs. When the owner supplies you with a bib before your feast, you don’t question it.
Owner Anthony Valinoti hasn’t forgotten his Brooklyn roots or his Italian heritage. He named the restaurant after his grandfather Pat Deluca.
Anthony spent time in Naples, Italy learning from an older woman named Anna who previously to taught cooking at the University of Naples.
She taught him the art of pizza making and that food is a series of thoughtful gestures and that you are expressing your emotions through your food.
I’ve never thought about the emotional connection while you make the food but it definitely makes sense, especially when my emotions typically aren’t very inspired when I make dinner…I prefer to leave it to the pros.
We started with a few sharable items including Anthony Bourdain’s Blue Cheese Iceberg Wedge with Bacon.
After that, we progressed to the homemade meatballs and followed by several different types of homemade pasta dishes.
A surprising item on the menu was “The Deluca’s Steak Burger.” Anthony prides himself on having one of the best burgers in town too.
The burger is made with an exclusive proprietary blend of aged beef served on Martin’s potato roll with homemade pickles and American cheese.
This is a pizzeria afterall so we can’t skip mentioning the pizza.
Deluca’s pizza was included in the list of 101 Best Pizzas in America by The Daily Mail.
The 18-inch New York-style pizzas are cooked in a 725-degree brick oven with an intentional amount of charring.
The dough for the delicious pizza is made fresh by hand daily using fresh ingredients.
We tried a few different pizzas during our visit including the fresh mozzarella pizza, Franky’s Flatbush, and The Patsy Searcy Pie.
Franky’s Flatbush is their “plain” cheese pizza made with exceptional cheeses with homemade tomato sauce, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh basil.
My favorite was “The Patsy Searcy Pie” made with spicy sopresatta, calabrian chili oil, peppadews & honey.
If you still have some room left in your stomach you can’t go wrong with the tiramisu.
If you want to something a bit more unique, order the olive oil cake. This cake is made with a slice of Anthony’s traditional poundcake with a hint of citrus drizzled with Amarena cherries.
You may be curious about the black and white portraits of the beautiful women surrounding the walls of the restaurant.
I was, so I had to ask.
The beautiful women pictured on the wall are women who Anthony respects in the community and who’ve supported him over the years.
Enjoy Drinks at The Ohio Club
336 Central Ave., Hot Springs National Park, AR
The Ohio Club has bragging rights as Arkansas’ oldest continuous bar, dating back to 1905 originally as a bar and casino.
If walls could talk this historic downtown building would have a LOT of stories to tell!
The Ohio Club was a popular spot for both gangsters and Major League baseball players during spring training in the early 1900s.
Famous previous guests of The Ohio Club include:
- Al Capone
- Babe Ruth
- Lucky Luciano
- Bugs Moran
- Bugsy Siegel
Make sure that you check out the vintage photographs on the wall and the casino chips displayed on the first floor near the bar.
We had a great time enjoying drinks while listening to the live band.
Scenic Views of Downtown Hot Springs From The Rooftop Bar at The Waters Hotel
The Rooftop Bar at The Waters Hotel is a great place to enjoy a drink and beautiful views of the surrounding Ouachita Mountains and historic buildings in downtown Hot Springs.
This is one of the best places to enjoy watching the sunset.
The rooftop bar has a lot of seating along for guests along with heaters for cooler nights.
Drink With the Locals at Copper Penny Pub
711 Central Ave, Hot Springs, AR
The Copper Penny Pub is a local favorite spot to grab a drink. Guests can expect a traditional Irish pub experience with a full bar and a pub menu that includes traditional Irish fare.
Copper Penny Pub has a variety of live music from Thursday- Sunday. There are 8 big-screen TVs if you prefer to watch one of the big games in a laid-back atmosphere.
Additional Hot Springs Restaurant Recommendations
Unfortunately, I ran out of time before I got a chance to try any of the local ice cream shops but Mamoo’s Paradise Ice Cream is on my list to try. They serve the only homemade ice cream in downtown Hot Springs.
The following restaurants also came highly recommended that are on my list for next time:
- The Pancake Shop
- Taco Mama
- Luna Bella
- Rolando’s Restaurante
- Wok Express
- Steinhaus Keller
- Colorado Grill
- Venetian Dining Room at the Arlington Hotel
- Diablo’s Taco & Mezcaleria
- Brick House Grill
Which Hot Springs Restaurant Do You Want to Try First?
Hungry yet? I’ve given you a lot of great options. The hardest part will be narrowing down which Hot Springs restaurant you want to try first.
What’s the closest Airport to Hot Springs, Arkansas?
Hot Springs National Park is less than an hour from the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock.