Diner Week Day 2: Dodson Diner

Dodson Diner

1611 Dodson Avenue
Fort Smith, AR 72901

Ya’ll heard about Dodson Diner yet? The place is also new in the past year, and finally seems to be catching on. Honestly, we’re surprised. Like most of you, we sometimes hold off on trying a new place till we figure out if it’s going to stick. This one we didn’t think would. The little hole-in-the-wall location on Dodson Ave., right up on the street with no other restaurants around and not much if any advertising, a while before they even had a sign, seemed to be a ticket to that Great Restaurant Cemetery in the Sky.

But no, it’s stuck. Now that we think about it, it makes sense. No other restaurants around, right near a hospital, unpretentious home cooking —we can see now why it works. We can taste it, too.


Charming much?

Dodson’s all about that feeling like you just popped over for Sunday dinner but Mama’s stepped out for a while, ya’ll just go ahead and eat now.


Don't tell us Arkansas has gone gotten all citified.

They serve breakfast and lunch six days a week. We’ve not made it over there for breakfast, so we’re not much help there. (Mini-rant: True diners should serve breakfast during all opening hours. Jus sayin’) But we and a couple of compadres have eaten a lunch or two at Dodson’s. They have a popular daily plate lunch special and then burgers, sandwiches, salads, soups, and quiche. And a whole spread of desserts each day, too.

We kept hearing the burgers are good. We eventually ordered one. The burger was good, clearly a hand-made patty just like Mama used to make. Nothin gourmet, but diner-y for shore.


Dodson's crinkle-cut fries are extra crinkly. More like accordion-cut. Just add polka music.

Let’s talk plate lunches. You get the entree with two sides and a yummy yeast roll.


Yummy Yeast Roll

The roast beef isn’t going to go in the Roast Beef Hall of Fame, but it’s good stuff. Best when it’s extra saucy.


Roast beef in a boat! Row, row, row your boat, gently down the plate...

Lasagna Day isn’t a regular thing yet (different special every Friday, the other days are more set), but we keep hoping to find it again. This lasagna was awesome. Best-dish-at-the-potluck awesome.


Dodson Diner's lasagna. We get Garfield better now.

Can’t have too much pasta. Here’s the pasta salad side. We think it’s sort of a sundried tomato vinaigrette, could be wrong.


You say bowtie, we say farfalle, let's call the whole thing tasty.

The side salads are simple, natch. Dressings are homemade and taste it.


Not exciting, but fresh. Crackers weren't homemade.

We’d wager that Dodson Diner sells more than the average number of desserts. It’s their thing. There’s usually a whole counter of them one after the other being all tempty. That’s what Overalls Girl is surveying in that earlier pic.

At Taste of Fort Smith, the Dodson Diner treats were a big hit and we heard them swearing up and down that they’re all homemade. This may be true. This may be true 95 percent of the time. We want to believe them, mostly do. But on one Fort Smith Eats visit we ordered this divine homemade cheesecake spectacular, and then an hour later noticed the exact same homemade cheesecake spectacular for sale at Sam’s. Busted!


Yeah, looks good. Was good. Chocolate cake bottom, chocolate-chip cheesecake filling, chocolate ganache on top. But you can buy a whole one at Sams.

Still, the desserts usually seem homemade-if-not-necessarily-from-scratch. (Know different? Let us know in the comments.) The coconut cream pie is already a Fort Smith Eats Pie-Off champion.

Wanna see a sneak peek at a future Pie-Off competitor? Here it is, just for you:


Half-eaten and still lovely.

Besides the pies, there’s usually some cakes–iced and bundt–several varieties of bar cookies and brownies, most involving liberal uses of chocolate and sugar, and a few ordinary after-school-snack kinda cookies. Midweek is the best selection, because they haven’t run out yet but they may have made more since Monday.


Pecan-Pie Bar. Generous serving, tasty - with chocolate chips too! Pie crust was good; only complaint was not enough "gooey" pecan-pie-ish filling.

A sample from Taste of Fort Smith:


Chocolate cake with a jaunty Reese's hat.

Let’s leave with a Dodson Diner image that takes us back to childhood in a snap. We figure any diner that can do that, yeah, it’s probably going to make it.


Happiness. There's always room for one of these.



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