Most regulars at Walt’s Hitching Post sing a similar story: “I hadn’t been here in years, but after it reopened I stopped by on a whim and it was even better than I remembered!"
Seriously, you hear that all the time. Because when former owner Bill Melton passed away in 2008, he left the revered Fort Wright restaurant with a legacy of delicious food but also an uncertain path forward. The restaurant closed, and for several long years Northern Kentucky was without the smoked ribs and succulent steaks for which Walt's had become well known
Fortunately, two long-time diners purchased the building in 2012. The following spring they opened a restaurant that, while revamped, was entirely faithful to the one Melton left behind. From the name to the decor to the precise preparation of the dishes, the new Walt's was an homage to its predecessor.
Today, it's attracting more than just former patrons. There's a legion of newcomers at Walt's on the weekend, and it’s easy to see why: The drinks are good, the steaks are very good, and the famous salted rye bread is famous for a reason.
As for the decor, the roadhouse/saloon vibe is strong here. There’s a generous amount of exposed timber, some of it from the original cabin in which Walt's first began operating in 1942. The bar is a beautiful sinuous slab of Indonesian hardwood, and the rebuilt stone hearth chimney is gorgeous. Elsewhere, the restaurant is adorned by trophies, carvings, vintage photos, and equestrian-specific paintings, all intended to evoke either Kentucky’s horse racing history or other, older bars in the Commonwealth.
Now, about the food... Walt's famous ribs are slow smoked outside, then caramelized on the grill right before service. This preparation, termed ‘Memphis style,’ ensures their deliciousness.
But do yourself a favor and get a steak. Filet, bone-in, rib eye, whatever. Just get a steak with a side of the skillet home fries, perhaps with some garlic and herb butter. You’ll think you’ve eaten at The Precinct, but your wallet won’t be quite as feathery light when you leave.
Walt's Hitching Post is located at 3300 Madison Pike, Fort Wright, Ky 41017.
Note: The original Walt's opened in 1942 by Walt & Mary Ballanger. Bill Melton took it over in 1958 and kept the restaurant going until 2008, when he passed.