At first glance when you drive by Hamilton’s Arches Saloon it might seem like this is your standard neighborhood dive bar. In a lot of ways, Arches is undoubtedly a neighborhood bar, and by some definitions, it might even be a dive bar, but that’s far from telling the whole story of this place, and the potential that it has.
The Space Itself
The name ‘Arches’ is a clear nod to the arches that run right next to the bar. The street that the bar sits on the corner of (It’s located at B Street and Arch St) also bears the name of the Hamilton landmark. These massive stone arches are part of a 665ft stone viaduct that was built back in the mid-1800s as an engineering feat to tie a new railroad from Hamilton all the way up to Oxford, Ohio.
The aches have stood the long test of time, even as the bridge that stretches across the river from the arches themselves was washed away in the flood of 1913, the arches remained standing strong. It’s not hard to find a way to draw comparisons between the Arches themselves and the little saloon right next to them. The bar was first built back in 1899 and might just hold the title of the oldest drinking establishment in the city of Hamilton.
What To Expect
Walking into Arches you find yourself in a narrow, but still spacious front bar space. The bar seats around 10-12 folks, and there are several small tables along the wall. At the far end of the room is a DJ booth, and a small dance floor, and the bathrooms are along the back of the building.
Off to the other side of the bar, a doorway leads back to a large back room with not only games (pool and darts) but plenty more seating for you and your friends to hang out.
The bar has a small kitchen with a menu that is still finding its personality. They had sliders the last time I stopped in, and they were actually really, really delicious – perfect drinking food if you ask me!
The back of the building has a large patio and deck with a fireplace… when the weather allows it, it’s a great place to hang out with a drink in hand and spend an evening.
The Personality That Arches Needs
The bar is still figuring itself out, but they are definitely onto something, and every time I stop in there has been some sort of improvement. Things are clean, the people are nice, and the food is better than you think it’s going to be. It’s a bar that I think will only keep improving over time, especially as Hamilton keeps growing around it.
My hope is that they find a way to pay homage to the history of the building, the location next to the Arches, and maybe even to the neighborhood itself. Some places find ways to become one with their space, while others just exist inside it – and for a long time, this is a bar that just existed. From my understanding, the owners have lots of plans to keep the space evolving and growing to meet the demands of an ever-changing neighborhood, and I’m pretty excited to watch them do just that!
Don’t expect a fine dining experience, or a fancy cocktail menu when you walk in. There’s not a lot of craft beer to be seen at Arches Saloon and the spirits selection is pretty basic. Over time, I expect that we’ll start to see some of that change as more and more people keep flooding into Hamilton, and I think it’s only going to make folks more likely to stop by Arches while they’re out and about in the evening around Hamilton.