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Jan 2, 2007 02:14 PM

paddler's pub (hot srpings, nc)

following a nice soak in a hot tub while sipping mimosas at the spa, my wife and i were in the mood for lunch last saturday. so, we set out through the metropolis of hot springs for some sustenance. only two places were open; one kind of a family style restaurant, the other being the paddler’s pub. since both of us wanted some caffeine, the pub won out due to featuring coke products. turns out, that’s not a good reason to choose a restaurant.

we both opted for the buffalo/bison cheeseburger. both of us ordered it medium, mine with fries, hers with onion rings. despite there being only 6 other diners at the time, it took a fair amount of time for the food to come out, and it was barely warm once it arrived. we elected to just go ahead and eat rather than experience another extended wait. as it turned out, hot or cold wouldn’t have mattered.

the burgers were just barely still medium right at the very center. otherwise, they were well into the well/well done territory. the exteriors were burnt. i guess they were probably medium when removed from the grill, but the extended rest they experienced before being delivered to our table carried over the cooking process. the buns were truly awful; very light and dry at first, they quickly squished down into dense, spongy, chewy slabs.

my order arrived with onion rings instead of the requested fries. disappointing since our usual strategy is to share from each other’s plate. the rings were actually ok, although they too suffered from the extended rest between frying and serving.

the kicker is these were $12 burgers. yeah, i know. we should have run when we first saw the price, but since the day trip was part of our anniversary celebration, i was trying not to be my usual pain-in-the-ass self when it comes to restaurants. so, two bad burgers, the $2.50 upcharge per plate for fries/rings, and a couple of pops set us back $35, including a miserly tip for the slow service. we could have complained about the quality versus price and incorrect order, but it was so bad that we have no intention of ever returning. i reserve my efforts in that vein for places that actually have some potential, and that i’m interested in returning to.

if you go, don’t say i didn’t warn you!

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  1. The Hot Springs hot tubs by the river are wonderful! You'd think the town would have more food offerings, but maybe they're just used to hikers mostly. There used to be a place beside the um.... not the river, right by the bridge (a creek?) on the main street that was good. Had a great pizza there. Thanks for the warning, and happy anniversary.

    4 Replies
    1. re: SweetPea

      thanks for the wishes!

      #5 is the best tub (if there are no more than 4 in your party). it's right at the fork of two rivers, and is the most private).

      there's a little cafe next to the paddler's pub that used to be decent (might be the same place you're thinking of). unfortunately, they were closed (as they have been most of the times i've been to hot springs). they really should consider opening for lunch (i think they were slated to be open that night) on holiday weekends.

      1. re: mark

        We did our anniversary last year at Hot Springs. I think I posted it. We had a beer at Paddler's Pub, you are brave man to attempt a meal there. Too bad the place on the water was closed (Bridge Street Cafe maybe?) I thought the food was good-to-fair, but the atmosphere was GREAT!

        Seems like there was one other restaurant in town across the street in a hotel. Can't remember the name.

        1. re: danna

          brave?... or just hungry enough to be really dumb! we definitely won't be spending our food $s in hot springs again during the off-season.

          i think you've got the name right for that little cafe. ok food, good ambience.

      2. re: SweetPea

        how about Mountain Magnolia Inn? We haven't been in a year or so but went 2x for dinner and it was fantastic - not casual though

      3. I have been back to hot springs three times now for the amabience and the relaxation ... I absolutely love the town! Here's a few secrets though:
        1. good for drinks (they have a good beer selection if I remember correctly) but never, ever eat at the Paddler's Pub
        2. The Bridge Street Cafe - like mark said -(beside Paddler's and overlooking the river) has improved upon their already good menu; the two meals I had there with my Dad were fantastic! They have lots of healthy, organic, and vegetarian options as well.
        3. The other restaurant mentioned by mark is soso. The decorations of the restaurant/ hotel are amazing, but the food and wine are all wayyyy overpriced!
        4. The Smoky Mountain Diner is THE place to go to get the local, southern experience. They offer good, solid, and tasty food at wonderfully low prices! The service is a bit rustic, but, like I said LOCAL. It's not the most innovative fare, but definitely flavorful and the staff is very willing to accomodate for healthier eaters and vegetarians.
        5. Stay at the Sunnybank Inn. Elmer is the host and resident chef/ guru. He offers a full, hearty, organic breakfast for the guests at an additional cost, and dinner on the weekends. He's an aawesome chef and the house is AWESOME!
        6. Tub 5 is THE BEST. Go after dark.