Exploring with Happy
As the iconic Ed Walker’s sign towers above Towson Avenue, splashes of red saturate both the inside and outside of this flashback from this dandy little diner from the 1950s. Coca-Cola icons and Coke machines flirt with your sense of nostalgia, while red vinyl covered booth seats and chairs embellish a black and white checkered floor.
Ed Walker’s Drive-in has been a Fort Smith historical hot spot for nearly 70 years. Established in 1943, their food has stood the test of millions, from the bygone days of poodle skirt flippin’ teenagers to the Howard Cunninghams of today.
As you pull up to the carport-covered drive-in still replete with carhops, I half expect to see Richie Cunningham and the Fonze inside. Those old Happy Days reruns depict the good old days at Arnold’s Diner, much like Ed Walker’s provided the local hot spot hangout way back then, and still today.
Transported swiftly through a magical door back in time, I bellied up to a fifties era counter and hopped onto one of a dozen red topped, chrome encircled swivel stools. I could hear the bebop through the speakers of “Mama said there’d be days like this, there’d be days like this, my mama said.” Before long, “Twistin’ the night away,” encouraged the mood.
The food, it’s good! Walker’s is famous for their French dip sandwich, and the au jus is satiating. Although no culinary secrets were shared during my visit, the savory pot roast sandwich was tender, juicy and perfectly seasoned. Swaddled in melted Swiss and dripping with flavor, you’ll need plenty of napkins. More customers than not will leave with the proof tattooed on their shirt.
Ed Walker’s is also famous for their prodigious five pound burger. It’s big! The size of a dinner plate, the buns have to be custom made. In case you’re wondering, they slice it like a pizza and it’s big enough for a family. It comes with a platter of condiments so you can dress up your slice any way you suffice.
The diner also serves up chicken fried steak, grilled pork chops, cheese fries, patty melts, fried pickles and of all things, cornbread. Worth writing in your diary about, Walker’s whips up the homemade milk shakes and malts you only dream of and are served in old- fashioned sundae glasses with whipped cream and a cherry on top.
Ever so sweetly you’ll discover that the desserts at Ed Walker’s are, do I hear harps playing . . . . . heavenly? Ted Cserna and his mama own Ed Walker’s Drive-In, Miss Anna’s on Towson (formerly Goodson’s Bakery) and the Rib Eye Steak and Seafood.
Miss Anna’s is ever so gracious enough to supply all of those deliciously decadent layered cakes and pies for the faithful Ed Walker’s customers and tourists.
Just because it’s the middle of winter doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a great little drive-in restaurant now and then. In Oklahoma and Arkansas it’s snowing one day and in the 60’s and 70’s the next. Mother nature lent me a sunny sixty something degree-day on Thursday, and it was plenty warm enough to sit outside at one of the umbrella covered tables.
It was also plenty warm enough to enjoy dining under the carport in a super sweet jet- black Chevy Camaro convertible, provided by my Exploring with Happy vehicle sponsor Smith Automotive Group.
Don’t be jealous. Just picture this, you in a Chevy Camaro Convertible revisiting those old happy days at Ed Walker’s Drive-In, Bill Haley singing Rock Around the Clock, sipping on a coke float with your sweet heart.
For that complete 4-D experience without the funky glasses, swing by Smith’s on Towson and Zero, testdrive that Chevy (you know you want to) and head on down to Ed Walker’s and live the dream.