Olive Hill: Walker’s Grill Delivers a Burger Straight Up the Middle
In a row of shops and old storefronts facing away from the main road, but toward the railroad track, in Olive Hill is Walker’s Family Restaurant (aka, Walker’s Grill). It’s in an unremarkable building, one of those places you wouldn’t give a second thought unless you knew that’s where you ought to be going. If you happen to be driving by the Olive Hill exit four miles away on I-64, Walker’s is where you ought to be going.
With its burgers listed by Garden & Gun magazine as some of the best in Kentucky, I saw it as my duty to make my own trek from the interstate to try it for myself. Walker’s is a traditional small town Kentucky restaurant with minimal appointments and nary a No Smoking sign in sight.
I arrived for an early lunch on Saturday. The griddle was still turning out pancakes for the locals. But I honed in on the bacon cheeseburger and an order of fries, hoping to find a hidden Kentucky delight.
The waitress took my order, and I sat at the bar just across from the griddle. The kitchen is open, you can sit and watch them fry up your burger or whatever else you order. The meat patty was clearly hand formed, no perfectly rounded industrial disc here.
Like my earlier experience at my own hometown hamburger eatery Pat’s, the first thing that struck me was how hot the food was. It’s all made to order, as I mention above, you watch while the burger is griddled and assembled and your fries are in the fry basket. To get the food from griddle to my hands was mostly a matter of the waitress spinning around.
No one can have any complaints about the taste of the burger. Walker’s isn’t doing anything fancy, just a fastball straight up the middle. The burger was flavorful and moist, the bacon with the right amount of crispiness. While eating the burger I felt sorry for all the poor souls I saw at the snazzy McDonalds on the way to downtown.
Is Walker’s one of the best burgers in Kentucky? It’s certainly in the running, a representative sample of the sort of small town eatery you just don’t find much anymore. It’s not modern, it’s not hip, it’s just good.
Walker’s the kind of restaurant the in-the-know locals who were busily going in and out frequent, and aren’t concerned whether the guy driving by on the Interstate even knows they’re there (and may hope he doesn’t). It’s where you may step out the door and see two deer hunters standing by a car checking out the scope on a rifle. And if smoke bothers you, you’d best honk from the curb and get your order to go.
Next time you have an extra thirty minutes while driving east of Morehead, take the Olive Hill exit and grab a burger at Carter County’s Walker’s Family Restaurant. And be glad places like that are still around.
Walker’s Family Restaurant
109 Railroad Street
Olive Hill, Kentucky
7 AM – 11 PM