November is the month for food, and no place sets a better table than Arkansas. Whether taking in the tailgating before a big football game, frequenting one of the state’s many wonderful restaurants that suit any taste or saying grace over a table laden with heirloom family delicacies, there is no month better for digging in and enjoying than the next-to-last month of the year.

 

As if all that were not enough, Visit Hot Springs adds an entire section to the state’s menu of great food options with Feast Month, the third annual celebration of all things edible in Spa City. What a celebration it is, featuring an entire month of Hot Springs delicacies, from plate lunches to fine dining,  steaks to pizza and pancakes to desserts.

 

“Food is always about comfort, especially during November, when we’re all thinking about all those comfort food options,” said Bill Solleder, director of marketing at Visit Hot Springs. “Feast Month has all of those things you’re used to, no matter where you’re from, but I would ask everyone to dig a little further. Find those restaurants that are unique not only to Arkansas, but to Hot Springs, and try them. I think people will be surprised at how much we offer.”

 

To help whet foodies’ appetites, Solleder recommended people visit the Feast Month website, hotsprings.org/feastmonth, to learn all about the promotion and view short videos spotlighting the city’s eclectic dining options.

 

“When the visitor is planning a trip to Hot Springs, they’re looking for three things: where am I going to stay, what am I going to do and where am I going to eat?” he said. “There’s so many dining options in Hot Springs that are so fantastic, we have visitors that plan their entire trip to Hot Springs just based around food.”

 

Hot Springs’ Feast Month ups the ante on showcasing local dining options by providing a month-long online survey on the website that lets foodies vote on their favorites in a number of food categories, as well as “foodiegrams” and user-generated pictures and videos of guests’ dining experiences. Diners are asked to tag their social media posts with #FeastMonth and #VisitHotSprings to show where and what they are eating.

 

Restaurants get in on the act during the celebration, by providing special deals and discounts which are also accessible via the website. To top everything off, Visit Hot Springs posts segments of Feast Mode, a short video series the organization commissioned to help pique diners’ interest in the city’s food scene.

 

“As the foodie scene continues to grow in Hot Springs, more restaurants continue to open successfully,” Solleder said. “Maybe four or five years ago, we started working on the video series. There are three of them: Checking In, focusing on lodging; Check It Out, featuring attractions; and Feast Mode, featuring dining. 

 

“Once a month we go in, we bring in a video crew, and we do a feature on one of our restaurants. After doing that every month for four or five years now, we’ve about featured every restaurant there is in Hot Springs.”

 

Combining the various elements of promotion, participation and outstanding food has quickly grown Feast Month into a favorite event on the local events calendar.

 

“Anyone involved in tourism is always trying to figure out how to keep the momentum going during the ‘shoulder seasons’ — in other words, spring, winter and fall,” Solleder said. “Feast Month was born out of us really wanting to give our restaurant partners some love. It wasn’t exactly a unique idea, as many destinations were doing restaurant weeks or food-truck festivals. We just expanded it to be the whole month of November, which usually is a quieter month for us. I have to say though, the last couple years have not been as quiet. It’s been a very successful promotion.”

 

The biggest reasons for Feast Month’s success are the number and variety of restaurants to be had in Spa City. Solleder said unlike some communities which are primarily known for one thing and where all other genres play second fiddle, Hot Springs is more of a smorgasbord in which different food categories jostle for top billing every year.

 

“I think it’s gone in waves,” he said. “There was a time when barbecue seemed to be what everyone was talking about, with longstanding restaurants like Stubby’s and McClard’s. Then it seemed like every new restaurant was some sort of Mexican taco joint. We have so many great taco joints like Taco Mama and Diablo’s and Don Juan’s.

 

“Then suddenly pizza sort of took over, with great pizza places opening up in the last few years like Grateful Head and SQZBX and Deluca’s, which, of course, has garnered national recognition. In fact, we’ve really become quite a pizza town, but there’s also the fine dining scene that’s always huge, especially lately with Oaklawn’s recent expansion and the news of Coy’s Steakhouse being resurrected in Hot Springs. We have to remember Hot Springs is a meat and potatoes town too, a steak town.”

 

Solleder said using the Feast Month website is a great way for foodies to discover something new around every corner of the city, but he also offered one bit of local knowledge that’s a pro tip for locals and visitors alike:

 

“One piece I should mention that’s only happened in the last few years is the food-truck boom in Hot Springs,” he said. “We’re seeing food trucks pop up all over the place and move around. There’s also this great food-truck court called 420eats that’s on Malvern Avenue, literally one block away from the convention center. They do a high-end, professional presentation of food trucks and have done that consistently for a few years now, offering a great variety. That’s one spot, personally, that I just love.” 

 

2022 Visitors’ Choice Award Winners

 

Hot Springs Feast Month is all about discovering new things, but with so many dining options to choose from, it is also good to start out with the tried-and-true. Below are the eateries that were voted best in their category by diners during last year’s Feast Month. To vote for favorites in the 2023 competition, visit hotsprings.org/feastmonth.

 

Best BBQ

Smokin’ In Style BBQ

2278 Albert Pike Road, Suite F

Best Burger

Ohio Club

336 Central Ave.

Best Pizza

SQZBX

236 Ouachita Ave.

Best Tacos

Capo’s Tacos

200 Higdon Ferry Road

Best Steak

501 Prime

215 E. Grand Ave.

Best Southern-Style Food

Mama Vee’s Southern Homestyle Cuisine

420 Malvern Ave.

Best Vegetarian

Cafe 1217

1217 Malvern Ave., Suite B

Best Sweets

Fat Bottomed Girl’s Cupcake Shoppe

502 Central Ave., Hot Springs

Best Breakfast

The Pancake Shop

216 Central Ave.

Best Asian Cuisine

The Pho House

608 E. Grand Ave.

Best Italian Cuisine

Via Roma Italian Restaurant

1521 Malvern Ave.

Best Food Truck

Rock ‘N’ Roll Hibachi

420 Malvern Ave.

 

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