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Northwest Clarksville
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Northwest Food 0

Diamond Drive-In, A Clarksville Gem


Many dairy bars throughout The Natural State continue to stand the test of time, churning out simple eats to an audience primarily comprised of small-town loyalists. On a personal note, these places were a welcome sight during the height of the pandemic, a time when I was not exactly enthused about stepping inside a restaurant. The dairy bar made it easy. Pull up, park the car, and grab my food at the window. Pleasant weather meant I could hang out and gobble up my treats on a bench, all while soaking in the particular town’s vibe. Lonoke, England, and Sheridan all come to mind. There are others.

Diamond Drive-In

Several months had passed since my last dairy bar experience, but a recent road trip with a car full of kids provided a perfect opportunity to check out Diamond Drive-In in Clarksville.

No McDonald’s for our crew. Sure, fast-food chains located just a stone’s throw from the interstate can make things easier when you’re on the road, as dairy bars are often found in the heart of town. You have to work a bit to find them, but that’s A-OK with me.

Diamond Drive-In

So here we were at Diamond Drive-In. It certainly looked the part. Every dairy bar could use a little TLC and Diamond is no exception. Decades will do that to a building, but let’s face it, the dairy bar patina is what draws us in like a tractor beam. We love the faded paint and chipped signs.

Diamond Drive-In

Upon entering, I was immediately ready to order a jumbo cheeseburger and tots, but at Diamond, the jumbo is actually called the Wow Burger, which I believe weighs in at a ½-pound of beef with all the regular fixings. The Wow is everything you want from a diary bar burger, as are the tots. Perfectly crisp and fried to a golden brown, these tots were glorious and overshadowed the crinkle-cut fries.

My favorite item? The Pizza Steak Sandwich. Although the handheld leaves a lot to be desired visually speaking, it is the quintessential dairy bar guilty pleasure. A breaded, pre-frozen, formed patty is deep fried, then topped with a couple of dabs of marinara and shoved between a hamburger bun. It’s a glorious mess. Trust me, you want this sandwich in your life. Wash it all down with a vanilla shake and call it a day. Hey, you knew I had to get a shake.

Keep an eye out for other popular items, like the chili dog, fried pickles and mushrooms, fish sandwich, Philly steak sandwich and a variety of shakes, floats, and sundaes. Diamond even has dinner specials with butterflied shrimp, chicken strips, catfish, fish & chips, and “broasted” chicken. Expect a warm atmosphere, fast, friendly service, and reasonable prices. Our table of four pigged out for under $40.

Judging by the steady stream of customers during our visit, it looks like Diamond Drive-In is as popular as ever. Here’s hoping it is still around for several more decades.

Diamond Drive-In
1206 W Main St. (Clarksville)
Phone: 479-754-2160
Hours: Monday-Wednesday 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m.; Thursday & Friday 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; Saturday 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; Closed Sunday

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Kevin Shalin is a food writer living in Little Rock with his wife, Sara, and one daughter, Sydney. His oldest daughter, Natalie, is a freshman at Loyola University in Chicago. He started his own blog, The Mighty Rib, twelve years ago while living in Houston. Six months later, he began writing for Eating Our Words, a Houston Press food blog. After a year in Boston, he moved to Little Rock, where he’s been for ten years. During that time, he’s written for publications like Little Rock Soiree, Arkansas Times, AY Magazine, and The Local Palate.

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