Category Archives: Burgers

Fort Smith Eats @ Phoenix Drive-In

Phoenix Drive-In

1715 Phoenix Avenue
Fort Smith, Ark.
(479) 648-9776

Exterior parking spots Phoenix Drive-In, Fort Smith, ArkansasPhoenix Drive-In is that colorful, Sonic-like place next to Jerry Neel’s BBQ. The one you’ve likely been wondering about.

Phoenix Drive-In is in a repainted Sonic building. We remember when the old Sonic was there, but even if you didn’t, you can see the resemblance if you’re familiar with the cherry-limeade-tater-tot icon. And, like Sonic, Phoenix Drive-In is, in fact, a drive-in restaurant. But its resemblance to Sonic, or any other chain-fast-food food, ends there.

The menu: Well, it’s surprising. It sure surprised us. It’s…expansive. Very expansive. And eclectic as anywhere we’ve seen. It has lots and lots of options, from the expected drive-in fare like burgers and chili dogs and fries and o-rings to interesting side items like fried green beans and green chile fries to breakfast foods like scrambled eggs & ham steaks with biscuits & gravy to full plate lunches and dinners like meatloaf and and chicken-fried steak, spaghetti & meatballs, and homemade lasagna (the priciest item on the menu at $5.69 with salad and bread). A menu of Americana, folks, pure Americana. Continue reading

Fort Smith Eats @ George’s

George’s Restaurant

2120 Grand Ave
Fort Smith, AR 72901
479.785.1199

Townie. That’s the word that comes to mind whenever we think of George’s. Know what we mean? Every town has at least one spot that is a no-frills, solid, dependable restaurant frequented at any given time by dozens of locals, the townies who gather ’round the pie case like it’s a watering hole.

If you’re lucky, the townie places also happen to have good food. Some towns have to make do with what they can get. The townie spots are there by tradition alone, where people just have to put up with the sort of food that gets served there. We always feel a little sorry for those towns.

Thank goodness Fort Smith has George’s. It’s a townie spot we’ve even been known to take the occasional visitor. Not someone who’s looking for elegance or exotic food or for a touristy experience. Hard Rock Cafe Fort Smith this ain’t. But someone who wants to have a good conversation over a great American meal without worrying about all the other stuff will get George’s. The restaurant is reliably clean and neat with food that is simple, tasty and filling. Oh, and affordable. And a constant, reliable menu. Is it such a mystery this place does a good business?

George's Restaurant Ft. Smith AR Fort Smith Eats interior

We took this picture because it is, for the record, the emptiest we’ve ever seen George’s large dining room. We’re not sure how many people fit in the restaurant, but it’s a bunch and they’re usually at least half full. Read on and find out the reasons for that.

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Diner Week Day 7: Benson’s Grill

Benson’s Grill

2515 Rogers Avenue
Fort Smith, AR 72901
479.782.8181

It’s appropriate we’re talking about Benson’s on a weekend. You’re driving around Fort Smith some weekend night, can’t find anyone. Where the bloody heck is everyone? Try Benson’s. Nine chances outta 10, the place is rockin’ like the back of a sunset-painted 70s van after dark.

The place is tiny and the parking lot is no better.

Fort Smith Eats Benson's Grill A Place Like No Other

Can't argue.

Fort Smith Eats Benson's Grill interior

Look how cozy! We luv that you can watch the cooks so closely, & also interact with the other diners if it's that kind of atmosphere. (at 3 a.m., it is!) Cozy.

Benson's Grill Fort Smith Eats sign burger

The sign has a much-larger-than-real-size brightly lit picture of a burger. There's a reason for this. They're great.

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Diner Week Day 3: Ed Walker’s

Ed Walker’s Drive-In & Restaurant

1500 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.

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The big arrow on the sign? That's pointing to where you want to be.

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The painting by the guy is of the original restaurant. We love that. Have a thing for paintings of places inside the places themselves. We should do a series.

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Sign in the middle says "Flash Lights for Service." Yes, flashing the wait staff is encouraged.

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Diner Week Day 2: Dodson Diner

Dodson Diner

1611 Dodson Avenue
Fort Smith, AR 72901
479.782.7750

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.

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Charming much?

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Diner Week Day 1: Boom-A-Rang Diner

Boom-A-Rang Diner

915 Garrison Avenue
Fort Smith, AR 72901
479.783.9233

There are diners we’ll visit this week that have been here for years and years and years. Institutions, ya might say. Boom-A-Rang Diner isn’t one of those. The retrostyle Garrison Avenue diner has been here for — count it — one year. It looks completely Mom & Pop, doesn’t look like a chain, but we hear there are a pack of them over in Oklahoma.

Boom-A-Rang goes for that old 50’s diner feel. It doesn’t really work but we don’t really hold that against it. We’d rather see an eating establishment own its time and place and just serve good food but if records hanging in the windows make people feel like spending their money, you can’t blame the people who hung them for knowing that.

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Note the original padded walls from when this old historic Garrison Avenue location was a sanitarium. OK, not really. But they are the best part of the decor.

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