One of the great and unique things about Eureka Springs is that there are almost no chain restaurants. We saw a Pizza Hut, a Subway, and a McDonald’s and that was it. We have a bad habit of eating in the same places everywhere we go and I love that Eureka Springs’ lack of these places forced us to eat in one-of-a-kind restaurants.
We arrived in time for lunch on Friday and ate at a place called The Roadhouse. It was a nice little place with standard American food. I ordered a hamburger, even though I keep saying I need to give up hamburgers, and felt overstuffed for the rest of the day. But it was very good.
That evening driving around in an old residential area we found a charming little restaurant with a sign outside that just said “Fresh”. Not seeing any other sign to indicate what it was called we took that to be the name of the place. I had a salad made of locally grown spinach with cranberries, pecans, and orange poppy seed dressing. It was wonderful. My husband also had some kind of salad. Our mistake was in deciding to indulge in dessert. They had a green tea cheesecake which I couldn’t resist ordering. You know what they say about curiosity? Well, it didn’t kill me, and it actually wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t very dessert-like, barely sweet at all. In fact, the salad was sweeter than the dessert. This place was more expensive than we are used to so that, in combination with the less than exciting desserts, left us with kind of a bad feeling about the place although I think the fact that they use locally grown greens in their salads probably justifies their prices. I would eat there again, order the same salad and a different desert but I probably won’t ever get the chance.
And by the way, I wish I had taken a picture of the giant metal flowers on the corner outside this restaurant. They look nice from a distance, or if you’re not really paying attention, but as we were getting into the car to leave (We were parked on the end right next to them.) I thought, “Those look a little creepy up close. I sort of feel like I’m in an episode of Twilight Zone.”
Saturday morning we ate at The Family Pancake House. A pretty standard pancake house – pancakes, waffles, eggs, hashbrowns, etc. We both had what they called “Indian Pancakes”, made with corn meal. They were very good. The inside of the place was decorated with a lot of vintage transportation stuff.
We saw several Mexican restaurants while driving around so we decided we wanted to eat at one of those for lunch Saturday. We picked the wrong one. It was called La Familia. It wasn’t really my first choice of the Mexican restaurants we saw but it was the first one we came to and it was easy to get into. There was another one I was more interested in that was up on the side of a hill and it wasn’t immediately clear how to get to it. The instant I stepped through the door of La Familia I had a bad feeling about it but I told myself, “Don’t be a snob; some seedy looking places actually have pretty good food.” It didn’t. It was the most bland and tasteless “Mexican” food I’ve ever eaten. They did have hot sauces on the table but one expects Mexican food (or any food) to have some seasoning already. The food at this place was about as tasty as the paper napkins.
That evening, after some discussion, we decided on The Catfish Cabin. The exterior, a “log cabin” with a wrap around porch, suggested a nicer place than it actually was on the inside but it wasn’t too bad. It had an atmosphere of cheapness but they had gone to some effort to give it a fishing shack look. We both ordered the chicken strip dinner, mine with sweet potato fries and my husband’s with regular fries. The menu said that all dinners came with choice of fries, plus hush puppies, coleslaw, beans, and green tomato relish. They brought us each a plate with three tiny chicken strips, fries and hush puppies and placed individual serving size bowls of coleslaw, beans, and green tomato relish between us. Since they were single serving size bowls I naturally expected that this was for just one of us and they would soon bring the rest of our order but no, that was it. Single serving size bowls to share between us. As it turned out though, the fries and hush puppies were enough to make up for the undersized chicken strips and side dishes. The sweet potato fries were the best I’ve ever had. Usually sweet potato fries are rather limp but these had the same crispness as regular fries. The hush puppies were wonderful, perfect. Lots of onion, just the way I like them.
There were two other restaurants (besides that Mexican place on the hill that I mentioned earlier) that I really wanted to go to but didn’t this time. I am hoping that there will be a next time, before too many years go by, so I will get to eat at those places.
Sunday morning we decided to indulge in one of our favorite vices: IHOP. There is no IHOP in Eureka Springs but there’s one in Rogers Arkansas, which was on the way home. We had sort of a weird encounter on the way in. Just as we were coming up to the door there was a young man leaving the IHOP, pissed off, muttering something about “ten minute wait, no coffee, no water.” A ten minute wait to be seated at an IHOP on a Sunday morning is nothing. We have waited for half an hour or more so we went on in, and were surprised to find no one waiting. We were seated immediately and had coffee and water within two minutes. I was really sorry I couldn’t hunt the guy down and ask him, “Just what exactly is your problem?” All I can think of is that he ignored the sign that clearly says, “Please wait to be seated” and just walked in and sat down and so, of course, did not get served.