By Stacey Patton Wallace
Recently, my friend Jack tagged me on Facebook about a restaurant that I should try in Opelika: Walters’ Gas & Grill. I was intrigued because I had never eaten at a combination restaurant/gas/convenience store, so one day, I went there for lunch with Jack.
My husband Mike, who was on a quest to find pine straw for our flower beds, was too busy to join us that day. I love Mike very much, but he has a peculiar habit: he rarely eats lunch.
Back when we taught in LaGrange, Georgia, Mike would eat breakfast at 6 a.m. eastern. When we worked in Georgia, we kept our clocks on eastern time so that we wouldn’t get mixed up. I’m so thankful that we are now on central time; that is, God’s time. I don’t know how he did it, but Mike would go without eating from 6 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. This really amazed me.
First of all, I’m not missing any meals. Also, I couldn’t have kept working that long without lunch; I would have started gnawing on desks in my classroom. Besides, as a diabetic, I can’t skip meals, or my sugar will drop too low (not that this situation happens often with me). However, if you have a chronic disease, use it to your advantage; again, I’m not missing any meals. I have my health to consider.
Jack was kind enough to drive us, and I saw parts of Lee County which I hadn’t been to before. We really have a beautiful county; the lush, green scenery was so soothing. It’s too bad that Mike and I were really busy and tired while we were working and never got to enjoy these sights. We highly recommend retirement for many reasons.
When Jack and I arrived at Walters’ Gas & Grill, the staff was really friendly and helpful. Walters’ has a very reasonably priced lunch special: just $8.99 for a meat, two sides, bread and a fountain drink. That day, diners could choose from beer can chicken, fried catfish, fried chicken and chicken tenders, chicken livers, gizzards and hot wings.
Walters’ also offered hamburgers, cheeseburgers, BBQ sandwiches and hot dogs. Sides included: mac and cheese, grilled squash, green limas, grilled okra, coleslaw, collards, green beans, rice and field peas.
Jack chose fried catfish, mac and cheese and grilled okra. I picked fried chicken (surprise, surprise; after all, it was on-the-bone fried chicken.), mac and cheese and grilled squash.
Oh, my. I will definitely be coming back to Walters’ Gas & Grill, the Good Lord willing. Everything was wonderful. Our catfish and chicken were perfectly crispy, and Jack raved over his grilled okra. Neither one of us had ever eaten grilled okra nor squash; they were delicious! I know that I’m a fried food fanatic, but I was happy to find vegetables that I love also taste great when they’re grilled. They were healthier for me, as well as really tasty. The mac and cheese was equally terrific, and Jack appreciated the good Southern sweet tea.
As we were leaving, Jack bought a banana pudding to go; he really enjoyed it. Walters’ also had strawberry and chocolate pie and cheesecake. The sweet lady who rang us up said that next time they might have a tomato pie; now that sounded interesting and not to be missed.
We also loved reading the signs on the wall. Two of my favorites were: “It’s my kitchen, and I’ll fry if I want to” and “You’re just like fried chicken. You make everything better.”
Walters’ Gas & Grill is open on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Monday-Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Walters’ is a country treasure. It offers great food and friendly service in a pretty, rustic setting. Also, customers can gas up and buy a snack to go. What’s not to love?
Walters’ Gas & Grill makes the grade with an A+ from this retired English teacher. Remember, “Pooh-sized” people NEVER lie about food. Enjoy!
Stacey Patton Wallace, who retired from teaching language arts for 30 years, is a professional diner. Her column, “Making the Grade,” will appear each week in the Observer. Stacey may be reached at email@example.com