It seems almost unfair to mention this on a day when ice forced cancellation of the Washington’s Birthday racing at Oaklawn Park and Hot Springs is otherwise out of reach for most But things are slow, so……

Hot Springs came in 6th in the whole US of A on a thrillist rating of the best cities for barbecue in America.


McClard’s, Stubby’s and Smokin’ In Style BBQ get particular mention. And the tamale spread at McClard’s, used to illustrate the listing, IS a trencherman’s delight.

Says the listing:


Do you like spicy, tomato-based sauce that kind of seems like it’s the barbecue child of Memphis and Lockhart? Do you want to get involved in a barbecue scene that is criminally underrated outside of Arkansas? Do you like spas as well? Well then you’re perfect for Hot Springs. The eleventh largest city in Arkansas (meaning it has 35,000 people), nestled deep in the Ouachita Mountains, is the home to two classic Arkansas joints — McClard’s and Stubby’s — but McClard’s historical chops are unmatched. Started in 1928, they allegedly received their recipe for a fiery hot BBQ sauce from a tourist court resident who couldn’t afford the $10 for his lodging. As of now, six BBQ joints sit in the small town, meaning you’ve got a good excuse to get a week of R&R (just hit McClard’s twice). 

How about it, readers? Does McClard’s still earn that top rating? Grumbling has been heard.

Back in the mid-1970s, I did a statewide barbecue review for the Arkansas Gazette that put McClard’s at the top. Everything was done from scratch, from fries to beans to tamales. But I barely survived brushing off Stubby’s. It had some serious fans, particularly of “those beans in the little clay pots.” They were not amused, though not as profane as the Tom Cotton admirers I’ve been hearing from of late.


If we can’t argue about barbecue, what’s the point of living anyway?