Eureka Springs is a mountain town of some 2,000 inhabitants, many of them artists. Everyone comes out to watch the May Artrageous parade when costumed members of the artists’ colony entertain visitors and townfolk.
The town’s streets meander up and down the hills, never intersecting, and lined with beautiful Victorian style houses, many of which are bed and breakfast inns. Since the town has become a major tourist attraction in the Ozarks with its many shops selling unique items and its summer-long Passion Play, the dining scene has become quite sophisticated.
Perhaps the best restaurant in town is the Grand Taverne (37 N. Main St., 479-254-6756), located in the Grand Central Hotel. The restaurant has the atmosphere of an old Victorian establishment, but the cooking is entirely sophisticated contemporary American, and the cuisine is first rate. Such dishes as mozzarella wrapped in prosciutto and grilled romaine leaves, Arkansas “hawg” chops rubbed with sage and calvados, a salad of grilled romaine, and plump, perfect sea scallops can be accompanied by a good, reasonable list of wines by the glass, or the bottle.
The restaurant serves dinner only, and on weekends, dinner is accompanied by a pianist playing show tunes and popular songs of decades past. All together, a delightful and delicious evening.
Another excellent restaurant serving contemporary American cuisine at slightly lower prices for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, is Local Flavor (71 S. Main St., 479-253-9522). While Local Flavor doesn’t have the charm of the Grand Taverne dining room, it serves food that’s almost as good and very varied, ranging from crab cakes to a variety of pasta preparations, wild caught salmon, shrimp, steaks, and chicken dishes
among others. The lunch time menu includes fish tacos, sandwiches, many of which are vegetarian, and a selection of salads. The Sunday brunch menu is extensive and includes a traditional country breakfast of 2 eggs, potatoes or garlic cheese grits and biscuits. Reservations are suggested as the restaurant is popular with locals and visitors alike and tends to have long waiting lists on weekends and for Sunday brunch.
A delightful spot for breakfast, a ‘burger or an afternoon drink is the balcony on the second floor of the 1905 Basin P:ark Hotel (12 Spring St., 469-253-7837). On Fridays, a fish fry is served all day long. On one side of the balcony, guests have a perfect view of the shops on Spring Street, and the comings and goings of events on the street. On the side of the hotel facing Basin Spring Park, guests have a clear view of the pretty little park and the spring that gives the town its name. Many events take place in the park, small as it is.