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Old 03-29-2006, 01:08 PM   #1
Cruise, J.D.
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Eureka Springs Trip Report 3/23/06 - 3/25/06

Eureka Springs Trip Review 3/23/06 – 3/25/06

My wife and I visited Eureka Springs for the first time from 3/23/06 to 3/25/06. We had a great time and enjoyed visiting a unique Arkansas town. The town was very quiet on the Thursday we arrived, but more and more people showed up on Friday and Saturday. We will definitely go back, but will probably choose a time when a festival of some sort is being held. The following is a review of our trip focusing on the lodging, dining, shopping, and sites we visited.

Lodging
Best Western Inn Eureka Springs
This hotel was in a decent location, about one mile from the historic district. The walk from the hotel was OK, but I do not advise trying to walk back because of the steep hill. Take a trolley – the hotel is a trolley stop. I was not able to find a better rate than booking directly with the hotel. The price for 2 queens was $59 for Thursday and $69 for Friday. Be aware that there is a 15.5% tax on lodging in Eureka Springs which adds a significant sum to your final bill. I almost chose the Coach House Inn which is cheaper and closer to the historic district. After taking a look at the property, I would probably choose it over the Best Western because of the price and location. I also think one of the more historic hotels in the historic district would be nice.
As for the Best Western, it is a decent mid-range hotel. Our room was on the lower level as requested. The room was showing some definite wear with lots of peeling wallpaper. The cleanliness was a little below average. The bed was not comfortable. The lighting was terrible. However, the water pressure and water temperature in the shower were great. The price includes breakfast coupons which can be redeemed for a set breakfast meal or used as a $4 coupon towards an individual order. The options for the set meal were more than enough, and the food quality was pretty good. I would have to say the included breakfast makes this hotel an acceptable deal. There is also a nice courtyard and a heated pool which we were not able to use because of the season.

Dining
Balcony Bar and Restaurant at the Basin Park Hotel
This restaurant is located on the second floor of the Basin Park Hotel. We visited it on Thursday night. The character and ambience at the hotel were charming and we enjoyed sitting on a balcony overlooking the town. Unfortunately because of the season, the windows were closed off with plastic. Prices were moderate, $8 and up for entrees. I had a Po’ Boy sandwich which was OK, but not great, and a Gin Gimlet. I don’t remember what my wife had, but she did not make any complaints. Service was excellent but there were few customers. There were some great black-and-white photos in the hallways. I can recommend this restaurant.

Pied Piper Pub
There was not much going on Thursday night so we dropped into this place to have a drink. There is a restaurant and a separate bar area. The bar has a nice big screen TV and tables for sitting. The bartender was welcoming and quick to assist. I made a special request with my Gin and Tonic and it was happily met. We enjoyed chatting with some locals and actually ran into some people we knew.

Market Street Café
We visited this place on Friday for lunch while shopping in the historic district. Cheap does not always mean a good value and this place was a perfect example. We bother ordered the “special” of vegetable soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. It was less than $5, however, it was the worst vegetable soup either of us have ever had. The vegetables were obviously frozen or canned and the soup tasted terrible. I am one of the least picky eaters you will meet and I thought it was way below par. The grilled cheese sandwich was acceptable, but due to the vegetable soup I cannot recommend this place.

Ermillio’s
Ermillio’s was recommended to us by a friend. My wife loves Italian food so she was excited to try this place. We arrived at 6:00 p.m. on Friday night and it was a 1.5 hour wait. The restaurant is located in an old house with the waiting area and bar upstairs. There was very limited seating upstairs so we had to wait standing up until seats became open. The bar appeared very limited in its offerings, it’s more of a small kiosk than a bar. I ordered a domestic beer and was slightly surprised to pay $3.00 for a bottle of domestic beer. It is only $2.50 in the actual restaurant according to the menu. This place has a nice romantic atmosphere with old pictures and candle-lit tables.
By the time we were seated, we knew what we wanted to order after studying the menu during our wait. The majority of the menu is dedicated to pasta meals in which you choose a sauce then the pasta. Most of the choices were less than $10 with a few premium choices available. Bread and salad are included. Roasted garlic is brought out with the bread. Both the bread and the salad were excellent. I chose the Gorgonzola Chesse Sauce with Mostaccioli pasta and it was the best pasta I have had. My wife had the Alfredo sauce with Tortellini and loved it. I could barely finish my meal and my wife had quite a bit left. Ermillio’s definitely lived up to our expectations and we will definitely go back when in Eureka Springs.

Shopping in historic district
We visited several shops while walking through the historic district. My wife enjoys dabbling in art and we liked the art galleries. There is a lot of unique jewelry and other craft items in addition to paintings.

Sites
The Crescent Hotel was beautiful. It would have been much nicer later in the spring with more flowers and trees blossoming. It has a great view in the back. We also visited the Christ of the Ozarks and I would consider this a “must-see” if you are in Eureka Springs. We went to the Thorncrown Chapel but it was closed for a wedding.

General Comments
The town was pretty much dead on Thursday; there was not much going on or many people there. The trolleys didn’t start a full schedule until Saturday. A lot of places were just opening up after the winter season. We would like to go back in the summer during a festival and see the town again. We usually like the nightlife, but we were more subdued on this trip. The locals recommended Eureka Live, Henri’s, and Chelsea’s for music and dancing.

Ratings (out of 10)
Best Western Inn Eureka Springs 5

Balcony Bar and Restaurant 7

Market Street Café’ 2

Ermillio’s 9
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Old 03-29-2006, 01:47 PM   #2
libraria
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I'm a big fan of Ermilio's also. My husband and I ate there a few years ago when we went to Eureka for our 10th wedding anniversary. We liked it so much we went back the next night! It is so popular that it's a good idea to get there at 5:00 p.m. when they open!
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Old 03-29-2006, 02:34 PM   #3
VBeason
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Thanks for posting. We want to go back and spend some time in Eureka again. But for now, day trips from Branson are what we try to squeeze in.

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Old 03-29-2006, 04:40 PM   #4
slbtrout52
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Eureka Springs

Thanks for your review of Eureka Springs. My wife and I have gone there almost yearly for 20 years. Glad you discoverd Emilio's and they do serve alot of food. A couple more of our favorite restaurants in Eureka Springs are
the Autumn Breeze and the Bavarian Inn Restaurant. If you go back you might try those.

Also, if you like being on the water, there are several places that rent canoes for a float trip down the Beaver Lake tailwaters. It is very scenic and its fun to see the trout swimming in the river. I would recommend the short trip though or it can become work. The trip from the dam to Spider Creek is very do able without too much work.
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Old 04-03-2006, 06:31 PM   #5
Ms_Terese
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Thanks for the review!

We're heading back to ES Easter weekend with my in-laws, and can't wait! Ermilio's...here we come!

I hope everything is open by then. When do the trolleys start a daily schedule?
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Old 04-07-2006, 10:00 PM   #6
spiffy
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The lodging tax in Eureka Springs is actually only 12.75% which is considerably less than most city's. If you were charged 15.5% you were over charged.
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