Trying new restaurants is one of my favorite things to do. We recently dined at Dons Southern Social which had its grand opening in August, 2023 in downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Hot Springs is a surprisingly “foodie” town and Don’s Southern Social is the latest addition to the town’s restaurant scene and one of the most unique offerings.
So, what did we think? Don’t worry, I’m not going to string you along. We loved the food, the service, and the atmosphere!
Read on to find out why I think you will also enjoy Dons Southern Social!
Review of Dons Southern Social in Hot Springs, Arkansas
Dons is located on Central Avenue in downtown Hot Springs. If you have ever been to downtown Hot Springs then you know that this means you will be parking on the street or in one of the downtown parking lots.
We found a parking spot with no problem on a Friday evening and would definitely say that the food at Dons is worth parking downtown.
The address is:
DONS Southern Social
901 Central Avenue
Hot Springs, AR 71901
Will You Need a Reservation?
It is highly recommended that you get a reservation to dine at Dons.
For one thing the experience begins before you even enter the establishment. You see, Dons Southern Social has a speakeasy theme. When you make your reservation you will receive an email and text with directions to the entrance along with a password.
Yes, you will need instructions on where to enter and be asked to say the password. So much fun!
If you do show up without a reservation, you might have to get a hint about the entrance from the Nine 01 art gallery that is “very” nearby.
Opening Days and Times and Where to Make Reservations
Go to Dons Southern Social website to check out their opening days and times and to make reservations!
More About That Speakeasy Vibe
Hot Springs is the perfect town for a speakeasy themed restaurant!
The city was once a favorite haunt of many well-known gangsters, including Al Capone. During prohibition Hot Springs was a hotbed of illegal alcohol sales, gambling, and…other vices.
Believe me, there were once real secret speakeasies in town.
At Dons when your GPS says that you have arrived at the address you might be surprised to realize that there is no sign of a restaurant. However, when you made your reservation you will have received a hint about where to go.
We entered the restaurant through a bookcase that swung open like a door. I hear that there are also other secret entrances!
The Decor of Dons Southern Social
The decor is somewhat industrial without being too stark or cold. Exposed brick, a wood plank ceiling, a nice wooden bar area, and warm colors make the entire restaurant feel inviting and convivial.
Dons also has a kitchen with a window that is near the bar area. I loved this feature as it is always fun to watch the chefs at work.
What About the Food?
Ok, what you really want to know in this review of Dons Southern Social is, “how was the food?”
First, here’s something you need to know…Dons Southern Social just happens to be owned by Little Rock native, Chef Joshua Garland, who also owns Best Cafe and Bar in Hot Springs.
Best Cafe is one of the best breakfast and brunch restaurants in the state and Don is equally as delightful!
I would describe the food at Dons as a new, refreshing, and anything but ordinary take on delicious old southern standards.
I’m not going to try to recap the menu as it does change from time to time.
What I will tell you is that everything we had was very good. I’m a huge fan of deviled eggs and the deviled egg appetizer with fried alligator nuggets was divine. I highly recommend it.
Just as an aside: Chef Garland once worked in the town of Vero Beach in South Florida which just happens to be near the town where I was born. I had to wonder if his time in Florida was the inspiration for including gator on the menu?
My fried chicken dish was sublime, crunchy and tasty without being greasy. My husband also loved his choice which was duck breast over polenta. Duck is not always my favorite but I had a bite of his food and it was cooked to perfection.
Don’t skip dessert! We had the pie trio which is served on a small window sill. How cute is that?!
How Were the Drinks?
If you like a good cocktail then you will definitely enjoy the bar at Dons.
We had a smoked old fashioned that was SO smooth and so well presented. You will be impressed with the drink selection.
Service at Dons Southern Social
The service was impeccable. We were here not too long after the grand opening of the restaurant so I was expecting the possibility of there being some “new restaurant glitches.”
Not at all. Every greeter and server was well-prepared and pleasant. Shout out to our server Keisha who was excellent!
I’m sure that you can tell from our glowing review of Dons Southern Social that we believe that this restaurant is a great addition to the food scene not only in Hot Springs but also in Arkansas.
Let us know what you think if you go there!