Oaklawn’s Eateries

A full-dining experience

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Photography by Mara Kuhn

6:45 p.m. … Looking at tomorrow’s live racing card.

Oaklawn Park is one of the South’s best playgrounds. Many come for the live or telecast horse racing, others come for the gaming.

And still others, including myself, come for the food, drink, and just a great day of fun. Regardless of what brings you to Oaklawn, you are sure to have a great dining experience while you’re here. Hopefully this review will help you decipher the very many choices that are Oaklawn Park dining.

The most famous item, a must-have, is their Corned Beef Sandwich. I’ve had corned beef from New York to Ireland, and Oaklawn’s may be the best. So tender and moist, perfectly seasoned, with a very light and fresh rye bread. I like a bit of mustard and lots of horseradish mayo on my corned beef. The most popular stand at Oaklawn for these delights is the Pony Express, located on the second level in the center of the track. Excellent with a cold beer, this has to be at the top of your list. At the horse track, never say “neigh” to a corned beef sandwich.

Your next stop should be the first floor Oyster Bar. The plump and tender oysters that are served here are as good as any I can get in New Orleans. These oysters have been triple purged to assure the best quality and flavor that you can get in a gulf oyster. The Oyster Bar has all of the accoutrements for you to jazz your cocktail sauce to your liking. You can also get delicious jumbo shrimp at this stand as well as other seafood options. This location is one of the pearls of Oaklawn.flav2

Most Oaklawn Park patrons develop a dining regimen. I have a tough time breaking away from the corned beef when I arrive and the oysters in the late afternoon. But I urge you to break out of whatever is your regimen and try something different. You’ll be glad you did.

There are 22 concession stands at Oaklawn, but if you prefer sit down service there are a multitude of choices. Next to the Oyster Bar is the Post Parade Restaurant. The Corned Beef, as well as a Reuben sandwich, is available here. The Post Parade also has several salads and burgers as well as grilled salmon. My favorite menu item here is the Bread Pudding. This recipe is excellent and is prepared daily. It is served with a very tasty bourbon sauce. Another full service restaurant is The Carousel Dining Room. The Carousel is decorated with beautiful antique carousel horses. It has a full buffet on most days, but you can also order from an extensive menu. The Creole Seafood Gumbo is outstanding as is the Oaklawn Omelet. This omelet is loaded with ham, diced tomatoes, chopped onions, and Cheddar cheese then served with fresh fruits and Wheatberry toast.
Silks Bar and Grill, named after the brightly colored uniforms that jockeys wear, is located next to the gaming area. Silks is a bit like a sports bar with many large-screen TVs and has some superb items on the menu. The atmosphere is comfortable and there is live music on certain nights. The Oysters on the Half Shell at Silks are the same caliber as those at The Oyster Bar, and I highly recommend these as a start. Silks cocktail sauce is near perfection, with just the right amount of horseradish. I enjoy the Spinach and Artichoke Dip, a creamy blend of cheeses with artichoke hearts and fresh spinach. A top, surprisingly great appetizer is the Pretzels & Beer Cheese. These homemade pretzels are super fluffy, warm, and soft. But it’s the beer cheese — made with Samuel Adams — that makes them extra special! I would also consider the Stuffed Mushrooms. These large mushrooms are
stuffed with a homemade onion soufflé and topped with parmesan, then drizzled with balsamic glaze. Several salads and homemade soups are on the menu. The side choices include some of the best onion rings that I’ve flav3tasted in Hot Springs.

Silks Bar and Grill offers a very good burger. When cooked to no more than medium, this will be in the top five burgers in town. Order a Silk’s Signature Burger or a variation such as the Cuban Burger. The Cuban Burger is topped with sautéed sweet white onion, grilled ham, olive tapenade, and pepper jack cheese. The Oyster or Shrimp Po Boys are made fresh and hand battered. The Grilled Reuben is tremendous, and this can be ordered as a Turkey Reuben.

The Silk’s Signature dessert is their Carrot Cake, one of the best in the State. Ask for it slightly warmed — yum! In other parts of the track, the Hot Fudge Sundae is incredible!

Silks has a limited but serviceable wine list by the glass or bottle. There are several specialty drinks they can stirrup… and numerous beers, too. The chairs here are extremely comfortable, unlike some other restaurants. The large booths are another seating option.

You don’t have to enjoy horse racing or gaming to love Oaklawn as the dining is enough to entice you to be part of the field. It’s always a grand experience. Show up at Oaklawn — it’s the place for a real win!

7:25 p.m. … I’m usually handicapped at handicapping.

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