Oaklawn Racing & Gaming (1904). Yes, it’s true that the oldest surviving dish of Hot Springs is the corned beef sandwich. Celebrated each year during racing season with its own special day, this sandwich is still served at several concessionaries inside the venue.

The Ohio Club (1905). Though not originally a restaurant, this favorite haunt of baseball players, celebrities and gangsters has been in operation continuously since 1905. Today, it features its original 1880s carved barback, a substantial array of beer and spirits and the Ohio Burger, declared one of the best burgers in Arkansas.

Burger at Ohio Club Hot Springs ARMcClard’s Barbecue (1928). Originally known as Westside Barbecue, the sauce for this legendary ‘cue was purportedly given to the McClard family by a tourist staying at the family’s motorcourt hotel who couldn’t pay his bill. The iconic dish here is the Rib and Fries, a half slab covered with French fries.

The Pancake Shop (1940). A throwback to classic counter and table service, this retro diner along Central Avenue serves up housemade sausage, apple butter and grape jelly and the hottest coffee in Hot Springs, along with plate-sized pancakes in traditional, banana, blueberry and buckwheat varieties.

Buckwheat Pancakes at the Pancake Shop Hot Springs ARFrosty Treat (1951). A Grand Avenue staple, all the proceeds from the restaurant’s receipts go to fund the Shalom Women’s Center, an area women’s shelter. It’s become known for a large array of vegetarian options, including a housemade veggie patty for its burgers as well as veggie chili, tacos and more.

Stubby’s Hik’ry Pit Bar-B-Que (1952). Originally located along Park Avenue, this barbecue joint near Oaklawn is known for its brisket, ribs, chicken and a rich, thick, sweet sauce. The famed bean pot gets its flavor from juice dripped through the pit from smoking meat, and the stuffed potatoes are the size of footballs.

Loaded Potato at Stubbys BBQ

Colonial Pancake and Waffle House (1962). This downhome wood-paneled interior dotted with turquoise booths showcases quilts and memorabilia from its 50+ years is still run today by the Gale family. Serving breakfast and lunch, it’s known for country vittles and what could be the best French toast in the region.

Taco Pronto (1969). A classic Ark-Mex eatery on Highway 7 Seniec Byway, this retro diner features burritos, enchiladas, soft tacos and the cheese crisp – a tortilla fried with cheese and jalapenos. The menu has barely changed since the restaurant opened nearly 50 years ago.

Rocky’s Corner (1970s). The outpost for Chicago food fans in Hot Springs, this eatery also started life along Park Avenue before moving in 1982 to its current location right across the street from Oaklawn Racing Park. Chicago dogs, Italian beef sandwiches and a fine selection of pizzas are on the menu.

 Rockys Pizza Hot Springs AR

King Kone Drive-Inn (1971). The dairy bar on Malvern Avenue offers the traditional burgers, hot dogs, fries and ice cream – but specializes in unusual drink and dessert offerings, such as a pickle fizz and a homemade Nutty Buddy.

Rod’s Pizza Cellar (1975). The Roddenberry’s famed biscuit-crust pizza is still served up at this Central Avenue stop a mile south of Oaklawn. Known for massive 17 inch pizzas and a buffet featuring Razor Tails (bacon-wrapped potatoes), its oversized and maze-like restaurant is a popular spot for family reunions and gatherings.


Post by, Kat Robinson, a vetted food and travel journalist who's spent 24 years working in radio, tevelision, print & internet.