Confession time: The trips we take for work don’t just happen spontaneously. Like you, we do a lot of research before we go. We plan our itineraries. We scope out the best hotels and restaurants. We ask what shops stock the coolest merchandise and which trails offer the best views. But the beauty of travel is that no matter how much Googling and planning go into the trip, you always, always find something you didn’t expect.
Which brings me to Stone House.
Today, it has 76 reviews on Trip Advisor, but when I visited Eureka Springs, Arkansas, a couple years ago, it was brand-new and no one had told me about it. Sometimes you see a business and you just know. And that’s what happened here. I hopped off the tour trolley, and this gorgeous wine bar stood before me, with plants pouring from window boxes, freshly painted black trim and a stylish polished wood sign. Outside, a few couples sat on a stone patio nestled beneath Eureka Springs’ signature leafy bluffs. Inside, I found a cozy bar, surrounded by warm cherry woodwork and staffed by knowledgeable bartenders. Upstairs, I discovered sitting rooms with leather armchairs, as though this were a coffeehouse and not an upscale wine bar.
What's special about the Stone House is that it manages to be all things for all people--classy and comfy, sophisticated and approachable, a splurge but also a bargain, depending how you look at it. The wines are good quality, and the artfully arranged platters feature imported cheeses you likely won't find anywhere else in town, plus fruit, olives and bread. (The lavender-infused goat cheese, smeared over a chewy piece of French bread, was particularly delicious.)
Each month the bar offers a different theme sampler, when for $60 or so, you can try a huge range of small plates and cheeses, along with wines to match. I was on my own, and savored $20 worth of wine, cheese and olives alone on the patio, but next time, I’ll bring friends. Stone House may not be a hidden gem anymore, but when you stumble across something on the road, it always feels like a discovery to you.