Ed Walker’s Drive-In & Restaurant1500 Towson Avenue Fort Smith, AR 72901 479.242.2243
So far this week, we’ve had two diners that have been here maybe an average of a year. We’re making up for that now. The approximately 2,000-year-old Ed Walker’s is a Fort Smith institution if ever there was one. It’s arguably a drive-in rather than a diner, but since we’ve only eaten inside and it looks like a diner and talks like a diner, we’re calling it a diner. Deal with it.
Ed Walker’s is also the only place in the state that they can legally bring an open beer to your car. You can’t drive off with it, must drink it there. Still. How sweet is that? They say it’s grandfathered in. Yeah, our grandfather would have liked that, too.
Decorating in Razorback Red and white works for Ed Walker’s. Here’s our favorite corner of the diner.
So, Ed Walker’s, as the sign says, is famous for French Dips. Apparently they were the first in Fort Smith to have the thick dipped sandwiches, way back in 379 A.D. or so. Like French Dips, you’ll be a fan of these.
Here’s what they’re famous with Fort Smith Eats for:
- BURGERS. Yum. All kinds. YUM.
- Reubens. They do them right, grilled without being greasy.
- Beans & cornbread. Ever had this here? It’s great. Big bowl of pinto beans, big hunk of cornbread, some red onion slices, and so cheap it’s practically free.
- Cakes. Somebody makes these homemade and they’re the best thing ever so save room.
What they used to be famous with Fort Smith Eats for:
- Breakfasts. They were great, if slower than we wanted. Now the wait is even longer, since they don’t serve them at all.
For Diner Week, it seemed prudent to try the plate lunches. There’s a couple of options every weekday. Well, when we say options, we mean for the meats. You can have say, pork chops or meatloaf. The sides you don’t choose. The sides you just get. We don’t know if the sides vary or are always green beans, corn and mashed potatoes. They’re the most popular veggies generally, we suppose, so it makes sense they’d be the ones given. Still, it’d be nice to have a few more choices.
OK, that gets the “healthy” stuff out of the way. What, canned corn has no real nutritional value and shouldn’t even count as a vegetable because it’s really just sugar? Don’t give us that. It grows in a field under the care of God and Farmer Del Monte. It’s a veggie. Thus, healthy. Same thing with gravy. It’s a vegetable, too. Why we grew up next to a whole field of gravy, waving in the autumn sun. Don’t tell us it’s not a veggie.
Now on to food that isn’t vegetables but could put us in a vegetative state.
Reviewing the Frito Pie is probably silly. It isn’t something anyone’s likely to screw up–it’s not like they’re making the Fritos from scratch. But the chili was good (lots of flavor, just a little heat) and the cheese was melted and the whole thing reminded us of sitting in the bleachers at a high school football game, but with a much better frito pie than the Band Boosters are likely too provide. You heard it here: Ed Walker’s is better than Band Booster Concessions! Bet they print that on a banner.
Let’s talk burgers. We get asked a lot what’s the best burger in Fort Smith. We’re not taking a stance on that yet, because frankly we’re still enjoying the research too much. But we will say this: Ed Walker’s burgers mos def should be in on the conversation.
The burgers range from reg’lar variety to ginormous. Our pal Kat Robinson over at @eatarkansas tried the five-pound Giant Cheeseburger for her blog a while back. When you get through with our post, check hers out. It’s a good read, and you won’t be-LEEVE the size of the burger. Biggest in Arkansas, gar-ron-teed.
Here’s the famed Razorback Burger with a joyfull of onion rings.
The Hot Mama burger with jalepenos and pepperjack is enough of a mouthful for us.
There was more than enough spice in the Hot Mama, but when it came time for dessert, what’d we order? Spice cake.
The Spice Cake was great. Though mebbe what we should have ordered after all that heat was the homemade strawberry shortcake in a frosty chilled glass. Mmmm.
The non-homemade pies in the genuine old fashioned pie case look good, but would look better in a handmade crust and glass pie plates with a pie’s worth of wonderment inside.
What’s more to say about ol’ Eddie’s? Just our wishlist:
- Open 24 hours (C’mon, you know it’s screaming for that)
- More veggie choices with the plate lunch specials
- Homemade pies to match the cakes
- Beer delivered not only to our car but to our house
That’s all we can think of. That and just keep on being great.