When you live in a town that has so much history and historically significant buildings, it is very easy to take them for granted. And with so many to see and so much to take in, it’s easy to miss something important. One building in particular has become a go to spot not just for entertainment, but for great food also, making it impossible to miss or take for granted: The Ohio Club.
Built in 1905, The Ohio Club is the oldest bar in Arkansas, with a rich history and stories that are decades old. Walking in, it’s impossible not to notice the architecture of the place and have thoughts of the past visitors who have been inside these walls — guys like Al Capone, Bugsy Segel, sports icon Babe Ruth, performers like Al Jolson and all the others who may have walked this floor. But no matter what story you hear about the old days, the ones you hear about recent history are centered around great entertainment and one of the most flavorful menus around.
My first trip to the Ohio Club was at the urging of a friend who wanted to buy me lunch. I went, thinking that it would a bar with the usual menu of hot wings and flavorless fried foods. So we have a seat and order a couple drinks, and I order the Ohio Burger. All the things I had heard about this burger were about to be put to the test. Is it really the best in town? Can it be that far ahead of it’s peers? Well, after the first bite, the answer to both questions is yes! Dare I say that this burger is beautiful? I dare. The patty of meat has so much flavor atop shreds of lettuce and diced tomatoes. The spicy mustard that is spread on the ciabatta bun compliments it perfectly. Did I mention the smoky strips of bacon and pepper jack cheese? It is a near perfect burger. The onion rings to the side are good enough that they can stand on their own. Not heavy or greasy. Nothing but juicy onions wrapped in crispy batter. So, thinking this trip could’ve been a fluke, I went back for more trips to the Ohio Club, and everything I tried was just as good, from the Southwest Burger to the salads and what is arguably the best Reuben in town.
There are times that we will visit a place with historical significance just for the experience. I suggest a trip to The Ohio Club for that reason. Walk in, see the pictures, check out the building, hear the stories — but let the food keep you there. Sit and listen to The Ohio Club Players, and see for yourself why the owner Mike Petty was named Hot Springs’ Restaurateur of the Year. Great atmosphere, great service and great food. That’s The Ohio Club.