Located on North Decatur Road in front of a Publix strip mall, Evans Fine Foods seems to have been here forever. I don’t know whether this was their original location – they opened in 1946 – but they’ve certainly been here as long as I can remember. They’re so easy to overlook that while I’ve been telling myself for many years that I should try them out, it wasn’t until this past week that I finally made myself stop in.
I knew nothing at all about Evans apart from a lingering sense of them being a little timelost. It’s very much an older-styled pay-at-the-counter diner and meat-and-two. It is visibly more popular with older customers than young folk. When I arrived for lunch, shortly after 11, the dining room was about half-full. Until a lady arrived with her grandchild, I was the youngest there.
Evans has a pretty small menu, but my server suggested I consider the specials instead. These are detailed on boards above the large open window separating the dining room from the kitchen, where you can easily see the frantic activity of the cooks. I chose the smothered chicken with sides of pinto beans and tomatoes and okra. It turned out to be the ugliest and least photogenic meal you ever saw, so I have not included a picture of it here. Flatly, you would never believe me if I told you it tasted good.
Honestly, the food really isn’t anything remarkable, but I was nevertheless taken with the gravy on the smothered chicken. It was a thick, yellow cream sauce that I quite enjoyed. It really called for more bread to sop it up than the restaurant serves. I had the cornbread, but they offer this as simple three-bite muffins. I probably could have used a couple of big biscuits.
It’s more than just the decor and the basic layout that suggests “timelost” as a good descriptor for Evans. A lot of these older-styled meat-and-twos taste similar because they use considerably more canned vegetables than fresh. That’s why there’s nothing remarkable about them. Still, the service was attentive and the staff was polite and it proved itself a fine little place to kick back and read Rex Stout for half an hour before I needed to move on. I can’t swear that I’m in a huge rush to return, but it’s nice to know that this business has been thriving for more than sixty years.