While we at Rock City Eats tend to focus on the food scene here in central Arkansas, we’ve discovered plenty of great eats all around the state, too. Arkansas’ highways, byways, and small towns are ripe with numerous excellent restaurants, dairy bars, drive-ins, and bakeries of all sort. In this regular feature, we explore some of these places and encourage you to pull over and sample some of the greatest food from “Around Arkansas.” Next up, Superior Bathhouse Brewery in Hot Springs.
There are few things more iconic in Hot Springs than the bathhouses on Central Ave in downtown Hot Springs. Occupying the last bathhouse on the row, Superior was one of the first in a wave of new renovations to the iconic buildings.
Inside you can see many elements from the bathhouse days pop up, from the copper pipes used to run the keg lines to the floor drains inside the brewery. While the old bathhouse adds nostalgia and uniqueness to the location, it does not come without challenges.
“Every little thing we try to change we have to run through a historic commission,” owner Rose Schweikhart tells us. “We wanted to add a small patio to the side recently and were not able to do so. It does limit our growth opportunities but at the same time brings benefits like the access to the natural spring water.”
Most of the time we set the bar a little lower for brew pubs, food is usually secondary for them. However we walked away very impressed with the food coming out of their kitchen. On our most recent lunch trip we sampled a beer cheese dip, the southwest chicken strudel, a pair of sandwiches, and a frito chili pie.
The beer cheese dip and the strudel were excellent. The cheese dip brought out just enough beer flavor to not be overpowering and paired well with the cheese used. The strudel was filled with chicken, cheese, and a mix of beans, chiles, and corn. It proved to be a great combination with the flakey strudel.
The sandwiches were both solid, nothing memorable but a good lunch. What was memorable however was the frito chili pie, something we probably would have never ordered if it were not for a pregnant wife craving. It was simply the best version of this we have had, full of flavor and freshness.
It is hard to go to a brew pub and not talk about the beer. We sampled a seasonal peach wheat beer using Arkansas peaches, and a flight of their other house brews.
I have a bit of a thing for fruit beers. I love the flavor and the slight tartness it brings into the beer, this one was no exception. It was a crisp refreshing brew for the summer. It provided just a hint of sour making me really wish they would take that brew through a souring process next time around.
For the flight of house beers we found them far less hopped up than the typical craft beer, which honestly was refreshing. They were smooth and very approachable. Even their IPA toned down the hops to a point where it was smooth and crisp, but still very much an IPA. Hopefully other state brews will start down this path and stop over hopping beers.
Finally for the pregnant wife and the non-drinkers out there, the root beer was a very solid affair. I unfortunately didn’t catch if this was a house brewed root beer or not, but it was very good. There are some great craft root beers out there and this was certainly one of them. A great option for the non-alcohol drinkers.
The price was perfectly on point. We ordered a good amount of food and didn’t walk away broke. The sandwiches were in the $8-10 and the apps were reasonable. Flights of beer were $7 for 4, putting it just under $2 a taster, which is always a great way to go when visiting a brew pub for the first time.
Superior Bathhouse is a solid Hot Springs offering and adds to their growing culinary scene in the city. I frequented Hot Springs a lot during the early 2000’s while in college and a place like Superior is exactly what was missing from the landscape.
329 Central Ave, Hot Springs, AR
Driving: 1 hour from Little Rock
Hours:11am – 9pm Sunday through Thursday; 11am – 11pm Friday & Saturday