- LIGHTS ON THE MOUNTAIN: Coming from the multitiered decks at Dead-Head themed Grateful Head Pizza Oven & Beer Garden.
Maybe it's because there are a full three days out of the week when a rarified slice from Anthony Valinoti at DeLuca's Pizza is off limits, or maybe it's because it makes sense to pair pizza with the influx of craft beers in town, but Hot Springs is in the throes of a pizza bounty. Mainstays like the casino-adjacent Rocky's Corner, the lakeside Sam's Pizza Pub & Restaurant, Rod's Pizza Cellar, Maxine's and Hawg's Pizza Pub have been joined by Brick City Slice House in the Park Avenue District, the picturesque Grateful Head Pizza on Exchange Street and SQZBX, the state's only accordion-themed pizza joint and brewery, which makes its home on Ouachita Avenue in the same building as KUHS, Hot Springs' solar-powered community radio station. Still, a pizza-saturated Bathhouse Row is a pretty cush problem to have, and eating a slice in the middle of a lush, mountainous National Park isn't likely to get old anytime soon.
First, props to Grateful Head Pizza Oven & Beer Garden for being open until 11 p.m. When 9:15 p.m. on a Thursday evening had arrived and there was no dinner behind us, Grateful Head saved the evening. The hillside
Or maybe you peeked and decided to have a beer. There was plenty on the tap rotation, including a Raven's Blood porter from The Water Buffalo and Buffalo Brewing Co., a seasonal Kolsch called Beez Kneez from the nearby Superior Bathhouse Brewery, Nebraska Brewing Co.'s saison "Blanc Is the New White," Yuengling's Black & Tan, a Belgian-style abbey ale from California's North Coast Brewing Co. and the Arkie Amber from Bubba Brews Brewing Co. Grateful Head pays as much attention to its wine as it does its beer; a two-page wine list with several fruity zins and rosés dwarfed the food menu. There was also a variety of
The menu is solid bar fare; not exactly destination dining, but
Maybe dining in the woods at nightfall had us feeling especially carnivorous, but we opted for the "Dire Wolf" ($15/$24, with Italian sausage, pepperoni, salami, Canadian bacon, bacon and hamburger) and an order of the house chicken wings, "Wings of Fire," offered in mild, medium, hot or extra hot in quantities of eight, 12 or 20, with the option to add parmesan for $1. We're so accustomed to restaurants crying wolf when it comes to spice and heat that we went for the medium, and were glad we didn't creep any further up the Scoville scale. These wings were doused liberally
As for the pie, the Dire Wolf was the Joe Pesci of pizzas — compact, brawny, menacing. The crust had a nice pretzel-ish
If you're going for locally sourced sausage or artisan Napolitano crust, Grateful Head should not be at the top of your list, but it's a great late-night bar meal, and you can't beat the digs. A couple next to us sipped a glass of wine as their two young girls played in the courtyard below the complex of wooden decks: not a bad way to spend a Thursday night. We enjoyed it — as did a surprising number of other late weeknight diners — perched on the carefully sculpted decks with a cast iron fire pit crackling away nearby, relishing the views of the historic building that once housed the Army-Navy Hospital across Bathhouse Row.
Grateful Head Pizza Oven & Beer Garden
100 Exchange St.
Hours11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
Other infoBeer, wine, full bar downstairs and upstairs. Credit cards accepted.