Courtnie and Bill Maness operated a successful business in Hot Springs for a few years before jumping into the restaurant business in 2018, when they opened the Red Oak Fillin’ Station just outside the city.
Prior to the Maness’ ownership, the location had been a gas station that had a few tables and served catfish dinners on Fridays. The building was vacant for about eight years before Bill and Courtnie executed their vision of creating a diverse and ever-changing menu, so the locals, the visitors, the young, and the young at heart can always come in, pull up a chair, and have something great to eat.
The enterprising couple created the restaurant’s menu, developed the recipes, and added tables and booths as well as a few nice touches to the building. Today, it is a nicely decorated restaurant with an open, country feel and lots of natural light. Over the past five years, the customer base has grown as Hot Springs has.
Bill said, “I enjoy the people and the fast-paced environment of the restaurant. It can be chaotic in a good way. We want to take care of the people who live in our community, but always welcome new friends.”
The care is evident in the food that Bill and his team provide. The restaurant runs two large, commercial smokers overnight and throughout the day to provide excellent smoked meats.
My favorite appetizer was the Bacon Cheese Fries served with house-made ranch dressing. Visually, this dish was perfect. The large fries were topped with a tangy, white cheese sauce and applewood-smoked bacon. I used a fork but was tempted to use my fingers, as the sauce was finger-lickin’ good.
The best way to try the Red Oak Fillin’ Station’s barbecue array is the Sampler Platter. This huge plate features smoked St. Louis-style ribs, 12-hour brisket, sliced Black Oak smoked sausage, and pulled pork. As I sampled each offering, I thought it was the best of the plate, but then I tried another and couldn’t make a firm ruling. As I went around the plate again, I called it a tie because each meat was outstanding.
The sampler also came with a side of Brisket Mac and Cheese, a must-try. The creamy, comfort of macaroni and cheese paired with the rich, smoked flavor of the fabulous brisket was a blue-ribbon winner. You will probably even want to take a quart home with you.
The Catfish Platter was a nice catch. It featured two golden fried catfish fillets, accompanied by coleslaw, hush puppies, and a choice of another side dish. Walleye, available fried, grilled, or blackened, is on the menu, and it is on my list for my next visit.
Have you ever had a Hickory Smoked Ribeye? If not, definitely order one when you visit the Red Oak Fillin’ Station. I loved the slightly smoky flavor infused into the expertly grilled ribeye that I tried. Each bite delivered a new flavor explosion of goodness.
The Brisket Grilled Cheese was a superb sandwich option. The smoked brisket was chopped and merged with a nice amount of white cheese between two grilled pieces of bread. The result was a new twist on a family favorite.
Daily specials are also featured. Examples include steak tips and rice, tilapia tacos, brisket quesadillas, and chicken salad.
Other menu items include étouffée, seafood gumbo, shrimp, smoked chicken, and much more.
“When we opened in 2018, we had visions of families sitting around our tables enjoying all of life’s greatest moments, all while enjoying our food, and that is just what has happened,” Bill said.