Before stepping inside Walton’s International Comfort Food, 956 Parrett St., patrons get a sense of just how different the restaurant is by simply looking at the building. A large movie-theater marquee advertises specials and events, while the front bumpers and hoods of cars jut out from the side of the building in Haynie’s Corner.
Inside the former Packard automobile dealership and service center, the eclectic nature of Walton’s continues to shine. Various and random objects dot the walls, railings, floors, and windowsills — all are refurbished, according to restaurant owner and chef Tim Mills. The floors of the bar area were made from restored wood from an 1800s loft barn. Under the bar top in front of the kitchen and main bar, doors from the former Lopp & Lopp Law Firm — demolished to make way for the Ford Center — make up the front panels.
“We wanted to make the décor eclectic and we found some really neat objects,” says Mills. “There is no rhyme or reason to it.”
The uniqueness doesn’t stop at the décor, however. Walton’s was born from an idea to create a multi-cultural restaurant with international food. A quick glance at the menu shows dishes with Asian-inspired flavors, American southern flair, Italian finesse, and more.
“The idea just fell in place as we built the restaurant,” says Mills. “As we were able to purchase the equipment, the cultures fell into place.”
Once home of the Walton Motor Company, the structure was built in 1911 and owned by Mills for several years before he opened Walton’s in early 2016. Planning the menu for this endeavor centered around creating dishes no other restaurant in the area was offering. Mills drew from his 36 years of experience as a chef in Washington, D.C., New York City, and Evansville to bring together different foods he had enjoyed over the years.
“It’s a menu for everyone,” he says, adding there is something to suit anyone’s fancy.
Toward the end of December 2016, Walton’s International’s open kitchen had plated more than 150,000 meals to Evansville and its visitors. On the list of favorites is the Shrimp Po’Boy, a sandwich piled with fried and breaded Gulf Coast shrimp, roma tomatoes, lettuce, applewood smoked bacon, Tasso ham (a meat with Cajun origins), and jalapeño tartar served on the side. The house-made jalapeño aioli is offered as well, and the dish is completed with an order of fries.
Pizza-lovers rejoice in the wood-fired pies baked in the unique, checkered-tile brick oven at the back of the restaurant. Made in California for Walton’s, the oven toasts the pizzas constructed with a wide range of fresh toppings and ingredients available every day.
Another popular dish among patrons is the Asian rice and pho bowls. Pho is a common Vietnamese soup, which blends stock, spices, noodles, thinly sliced meat or fish, and other ingredients together. While Walton’s bowls — offered with chicken, beef, roasted duck, and seafood options — are perfect year-round, general manager Corey Jones says the comforting dish becomes even more favored when the air turns cold.
The most favored dish among the selections at Walton’s, however, is the Southern Fry. A fried chicken breast smothered in a smooth helping of jalapeño pimento cheese spread is given a twist with a slice of capocollo — a traditional Italian and Corsican pork cold-cut. A side of fries is loaded on the plate as well, presenting a mouth-watering, unique sandwich.
“It’s probably my favorite dish,” says Jones. “It’s delicious.”
The four dishes are just a small sample of the variety Walton’s offers. Appetizers touch on classics like nachos, chicken wings, and bruschetta while offering a chance to expand your palate to southern tastes such as fried crawfish and alligator. Smoked barbecue chicken dishes are next to salads, catfish fiddlers, and grilled pork chops. Rice bowls overflow with a choice of chicken, pork, shrimp, or tofu; rice; stir-fried vegetables; and are topped with Korean barbecue, peanut, teriyaki, or sweet-and-spicy honey teriyaki sauce.
All these are offered in a price range of $8 to $18 and dished out in large portions — a theme Mills and company hope allows patrons to dine with them at least once a week instead of on rare occasions.
“We want Walton’s to be a place where people can bring their kids to go out and eat and not break the bank,” says Jones.
But one of the most important things to Mills and his team is that Walton’s offers a family-friendly, social atmosphere open to all.
“It’s a laid-back restaurant. It’s got a lot of energy going on at night in here,” says Mills. “We cater a lot to groups with a lot of large tables. We’ve found that’s really a niche market for us — people come in here with groups of friends to get together and socialize.”
Location: 956 Parrett St. Phone: 812-467-4255
Dining Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mon.-Thurs.; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fri.; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sat.; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sun.
Adult Beverages: Yes
Payment: All major credit cards accepted.