Back Porch Grill features equine artwork. (Photo courtesy of Back Porch Grill)
Oaklawn Park brings nationally significant racing to Hot Springs, Ark. Win or lose, people visiting this southern track will find delectable pre- and post-race dining options nearby for any budget. Read on to find out Win, Place and Show picks.
WIN (Dead Heat): Central Park Fusion Cuisine
Photo courtesy of Central Park Fusion
For superior steaks and seafood, artful presentation and first-class service, head to Central Park Fusion Cuisine. The restaurant has a chic, modern atmosphere, and the glass walls provide views of the national park and historic downtown. Last season, owner Willis Horton and his family celebrated here after Will Take Charge’s victory in the Oaklawn Handicap.
WIN (Dead Heat): Back Porch Grill
Photo courtesy of Back Porch Grill
Located on Lake Hamilton, Back Porch Grill is one of the restaurants in Hot Springs offering access for boat-in patrons. When the weather is good, dine on the deck and enjoy the lake view. Start with the phenomenal avocado fries appetizer. Move on to the stuffed red snapper or a steak that is grilled on an open fire in the dining room. Before or after your meal (or both), head upstairs to Martini’s on the Bay. Owners, trainers and jockeys such as leading rider Ricardo Santana, Jr., and country singer and racehorse owner Toby Keith frequent these two establishments.
PLACE: Rolando’s Nuevo Latino Restaurante
Photo courtesy of Rolando's
Owner Rolando Cuzco is a native of Ecuador. He and his wife, Sherri, marry the foods of Latin America with the hospitality of the south. Their Hot Springs restaurant features a magnificent outdoor patio that sometimes hosts musical acts.
British journalist Steve Boggan wrote about it in his book Follow the Money: A Month in the Life of a Ten-Dollar Bill. “I was directed through a back door which opened underneath a solid rocky outcrop. I climbed a flight of stairs and found myself in a beautiful garden in the shade of another wall of rock with a shallow cave at its foot … There was a bar at the back of the garden, tables and chairs were scattered among shrubs and trees. Lights were draped through and across anything that would bear their weight. It wasn’t a big venue but it was one of the prettiest I had ever seen.”
SHOW: Rocky’s Corner
Conveniently located across the street from Oaklawn, Rocky’s is a great place to spread out the program, tip sheets and The Daily Racing Form and make a game plan. Rocky’s serves Chicago-style pizza, sandwiches and pasta. Virginia Kelley, Bill Clinton’s mother, was an Oaklawn and Rocky’s regular. Her picture hangs on the wall inside this dining establishment.