- SQZ IN: To the pizzeria and brewery on Ouachita Avenue.
Two polka musicians walk into a bar. Or, rather, they open their own microbrewery, alongside an accordion-themed pizzeria.
That's the SQZBX (short for "squeezebox") story in a nutshell. The "Brewery & Pizza Joint" in downtown Hot Springs, just off Central Avenue, is adjoined to KUHS-FM, 102.5, the only solar-powered radio station in Arkansas. Spouses Cheryl Roorda and Zac Smith are at the helm. They're the accordion-helicon duo behind the Itinerant Locals, which trotted out its polka-
We walked past the windowfront where a DJ was spinning The B-52s' "52 Girls" on KUHS, the windowfront where SQZBX's cooks were spinning dough, and into the sleek, boxy pizzeria. SQZBX's ceilings are high and covered in vintage tin tiles, and everything
Smith operates the gleaming, squeaky-clean brew equipment Wonka-style from within a corner encased in glass, behind a door that reads: "Brewery," then, below, in
We opted for the Loaded Bread Knots ($10), cigar-like lengths of dough baked with roasted garlic and parmesan until golden brown and topped with red onion, sausage, diced pepperoni and fresh basil. Along with the knots, we had a Greek salad ($6/$10), crisp mixed greens with feta, olives, herbs and a house-made Greek vinaigrette fiercely acidic enough to counter all those briny elements. The salads at SQZBX nearly steal the show from the main event; on a past trip, we'd made dinner out of the large Garden Salad ($6/$10) with the house-made balsamic vinaigrette and vowed to order it every time we walked in the door. Nevertheless, we shared a small pie, the Vegan Dream ($16 for a 13-inch pie/$24 for an 18-inch).
The Vegan Dream is a gem. Plant-based restaurant options in Hot Springs are pretty few and far between, and it's even harder to find places that serve vegan dishes thoughtfully
- BREAD KNOTS: Cheryl Roorda and Zac Smith bake all of SQZBX's bread and pizza dough in house.
There's a remarkable thing that happens to pizza crust when it's made by the hands of Real Live People without using a bunch of added junk or preservatives and allowed to fully ferment. SQZBX ferments its dough at a cool temperature for a long time before thrusting into a ridiculously hot oven. The dough crisps and forms irregular bubbles on its surface, pinpointing the spots where
If, however, pizza without meat or cheese seems to you like church without music, there's plenty of
Our impressions of SQZBX? It's a fiercely devoted effort from two polka-peddling polymaths and new evidence for the depth of Hot Springs' quirky culture — and for the Spa City's status as a mecca for good beer and pizza pie.
SQZBX Brewery & Pizza Joint
236 Ouachita Ave.
Hours11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Other infoBeer, wine, credit cards accepted.