It's been years since I've been to Oaklawn Park, and considering how much I enjoyed the beautiful Hot Springs oval back then, it's been way too long. So long in fact, that the last time I was there, food was not a major concern for my trip planning to Arkansas. Years have past, pounds have been added, and boy have things changed. Nowadays, careful planning needs to be done so that I can sample as much good food as possible on my racetrack trips. My next trip so happens to be a drive from my home in Suburban Chicago to Hot Springs to experience a great week of racing at Oaklawn, and despite it still being eight weeks away from my departure, I have already started doing my gastronomic homework.
As it will be a nine-day sojourn in Arkansas, including the drive, I will be lucky enough to have my wife, Candice, and daughter, Kendra, joining me. How did I talk Candice into vacationing in Arkansas in February, you ask? That's another story for another blog. With the three of us making the approximately ten-hour drive together, a good meal before we even get to The Natural State is mandatory. Our first meal of note will happen a little more than halfway to Hot Springs, in little Sikeston, Missouri and at Lambert's Cafe.
Perhaps you've heard of Lambert's, it is after all 'The only home of throwed rolls'. Yes, you heard me, they actually throw their homemade rolls around the eatery. A bit hokie, I know, but their homestyle Americana cooking is supposed to be first rate, and the portions allow for no one to leave hungry. Other calling cards for Lambert's include their barbecue ribs, fried chicken, and free pass arounds (sides that the waitstaff brings around to your table whenever needed.) Lambert's it is then ... I am already looking forward to the fried chicken.
After a good night's sleep assisted by full bellies, and back on the road to Arkansas, my thoughts will likely turn to the horses and the Oaklawn experience. Before we arrive in the Oaklawn area though, I think a good lunch will be a must. When I think about food in the capital city of Little Rock, Arkansas, the first thing that always comes to mind is one of President Bill Clinton's old haunts.
election campaign, when the Clinton staff made it their hangout. When then-candidate Clinton was interviewed for a September cover story on Rolling Stone magazine, he held it at Doe's. I am not sure if any of this history makes it any more attractive to me or not, but the fact that it reportedly serves fantastic steaks in a down-to-earth atmosphere is good enough for the Zipse family to make our first meal in Arkansas a really good one.
As far as the Oaklawn Park area and Hot Springs itself, where we will spend almost seven full days, I am in great need of some solid recommendations. Know a great place to take the family for breakfast, lunch or dinner? I need help, and as you can tell, I take this very seriously.