PICKY PEACHES HIDDEN GEM RESTAURANT CHALLENGE #10: Walden’s in Covington – NOT the Pond

This week marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Henry David Thoreau, who spent two years in a small cabin near Walden pond in Massachusetts. He wrote a book about his experiences entitled simply, Walden. Just kidding! We’re not talking about that Walden. Instead, the 10th delicious stop in the Picky Peaches Hidden Gem Restaurant Challenge is Walden’s in Covington, Georgia.

Refill your coffee and we’ll share with you one of the most unusual and heart-warming restaurant stories we’ve ever heard. Faith, food and family are major priorities for the Walden family. Tony and Patty Walden had a building in their backyard and decided they could use it in a very creative way. Two years ago, they started a donation-only, fish-fry, food and fellowship with family and friends every other Friday night. Word quickly spread and they were soon feeding 400+ people in their backyard. That’s quite a dinner party!

It didn’t take long for them to realize that they could turn these meals into a restaurant concept and we’re so glad they did! The food soon moved from the Walden’s backyard to its current location on Washington Street, convenient to the vibrant, downtown Covington square.

Walden’s main building has a walk-up window and drive-thru lane. The Picky Peaches encourage you to park the car and choose an outdoor table under the pavilion (weather-permitting, of course) or a table inside the new “lean-to”. You’ll want to linger awhile. What struck us first was how spotlessly clean everything was. Then, we walked up to the window to place our orders, we were greeted with such warm, southern kindness that we knew we were in a special place.

It was July when we visited, so we chose a table inside the air-conditioned lean-to and we highly recommend it. Open the bright, red door with the cotton boll wreath to enter one of the homiest places we’ve ever dined. Don’t wear a tight skirt when you go because all the table are picnic tables and you’ll need to gracefully throw your legs up and over. Pants, capris or shorts are recommended–unless you really want the guys at the next table to strike up a conversation with you. While you wait for your name to be called, enjoy a game of checkers while the children enjoy the crayons. If you’re alone, take a peek at a copy of Southern Living (You were expecting a different magazine?)
Or play a game of corn hole outdoors in front of the big, old Coca-Cola sign. They’ve thought of everything.

There’s a self-serve water refill urn and a condiment cart for your convenience. We liked the added touch of the amusing signs, placards and southern memorabilia on the walls. But the thing that makes it the most unique is the Prayer Request Box on the wall, complete with cards and pens.

The menu isn’t six pages long and it doesn’t need to be. They completely understand the concept of doing a few things and doing them well, as opposed to doing a lot of things only so-so.

Here are a few things we highly recommend:

Since Walden’s started as a fish-fry, it only makes sense that their most popular entree, by far, is the Fried Catfish. We spoke to a few other patrons and asked them what we should order. The emphatic reply was always the same, “The catfish. Get the catfish.” Now, we can see why.
It was flaky, moist, and not greasy. The batter was VERY southern in that it was a light, cornmeal batter–not thick or crusty.

If you’re not in the mood for catfish, try the Barbecue Sandwich. This tasty serving of pulled pork has a sweet, delicious, vinegar sauce already mixed in. We’d go back to Walden’s just for this sandwich. In our opinion, it’s the closest to Statesville, NC’s iconic Little Pig’s Barbecue that we’ve ever tasted in Georgia. Those of you who’ve been blessed enough to eat at the Little Pig know that’s high praise.

For you fried chicken lovers, try the hand-battered, white-meat Chicken Fingers. They’re tender, juicy and piping hot. They have all the best features of grandma’s fried chicken without the bones.

The Brunswick Stew is so good! Made with corn and bits of white meat chicken in a tomato base. It was light, tasty and satisfying.

You’ll need side dishes to go with your entree and you’ll be glad to find that, with the exception of the French fries and okra, the sides at Walden’s are made from scratch. The potato salad contains just the right amounts of pickle relish and mustard. It was so good! The baked beans were well-seasoned and contained tiny bits of chicken. However, the best side of all was The Grits!!!! Best Grits we have ever put in our mouths for the following reasons: They were the perfect thickness, not runny or goopy; seasoned perfectly (we did not add salt or butter) and they were cheese grits. It was worth the drive for those grits!

Save room for the Strawberry Delight. Made with graham cracker crust, cream cheese filling and topped with strawberries pie filling. It was refreshing and perfect for a hot summer day. Truly delightful.

Psst! Bathroom was one of the most memorable we’ve ever visited. A vintage enamel wash pan had been converted into a sink and the faucet was a rain-style shower head. The custom-built countertop was made of stained, sealed lumber. Definitely Pinterest-worthy. Tidy, clean and amusing. We loved it!

We couldn’t help but notice two photos displayed on shelves in the lean-to of two women who mean so much to Walden’s. They are Tony’s mom, Kathleen Walden, and Patty’s mom, Elaine Helms. Both women were gifted with a love to serve others, a love to cook, and the ability to prepare real comfort food. They must be so proud of what their family has achieved.

Walden’s, 3186 Washington Street Covington, GA 30016
Hours: Thursday – Saturday 11am – 8pm. Closed Sunday – Wednesday.
waldensrestaurants.com

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Join us next time for a fascinating visit to the Hollywood of the South. You’ll be impressed by the number of your favorite movies and television shows that were filmed in the same lovely Georgia town.

14 thoughts on “PICKY PEACHES HIDDEN GEM RESTAURANT CHALLENGE #10: Walden’s in Covington – NOT the Pond”

  1. I would be willing to go to Georgia just for this restaurant! The chicken tenders look wonderful! My mouth is watering!

  2. We love Walden’s. They not only have very good food, they are good people. Try them once & you will go back.

  3. Love the Waldon family and so grateful that they have opened such a delicious spot to eat. The catfish, chicken & BBQ are wonderful and the cheese grits are the perfect side for any of them.

  4. We LoVe the Walden Family! We LoVe their sweet spirit and faith in God! They are great people! We LoVe going there to eat the catfish, it’s delicious! Everything else is delicious also! Great friendly atmosphere! đź’ž

      1. Thanks Linda! I don’t think this is the Elaine Helms you’re thinking of. Not only is the food good southern cooking, the atmosphere is fun and relaxing!

  5. I love Walden’s. I’ve known this family for a long time and they’re the real deal. I never ate Brunswick stew at all until theirs. Hands down best grits and chicken fingers ever.

  6. I’m not sure how I missed this, but I’m totally in love with this place and am ready to go anytime!!! Thanks, girls, for your fun and great work!

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