It’s easy to drive through the nearly forgotten town of Ft. Madison, but it’s hard to drive past this tiny diner known as The Fort Sandwich Shop, or Jake & Walt’s Fort Diner. “Eat the Fort” reads the sign, facing Highway 61, the BNSF Railroad triple tracks, and the mighty Mississippi River just yards away. The diner isn’t just small, it’s old. 1941 is the date the employees give me. It feels like a classic prefab railcar diner.
The tiny building has been here a while under different owners. The stools are above a small step just in front of the counter stretching across the dining area. There are small tables in front of windows facing the street.
Like many Mississippi River view joints, there is a fish basket or fried shrimp along with the usual burgers and sandwiches. Stuffed peppers were the special on the day I walked in, and raisin creme pie was the highlight of the pie board. The advertised specialty is The Wallyburger, made with one pound of ground beef, topped with onions, mushrooms, American, and Swiss cheese for just $7.50.
I opted for just the breaded pork tenderloin sandwich. It was served cut in two, exposing the soft white meat. The light breading keeps the juicy pork flavor inside, and turns a great golden brown on the outside, and the $5.00 price tag is a great value.