The Epicurean Restaurant, East Ridge TN

We had a couple of big disappointments on our latest trip to Chattanooga. Sure, we enjoyed shopping for books and records at Winder Binder, and had some good sodas from Pure Sodaworks – their soda fountain is now set up inside Clumpie’s Ice Cream, and their Sweet Orange flavor is one of their very best – but we were sad to see that the Coolidge Park fountains were closed for repair. The three year-old was really looking forward to playing in them.

On top of that, the burger joint that I was really looking forward to visiting has closed. I first read about Magoo’s in East Ridge one year ago. It was the final stop of Chattaburger’s seventeen-restaurant tour of the Scenic City, and sounded like it was going to be great. I actually phoned Magoo’s on Saturday, June 7th, to confirm their hours, and they closed their doors for good two days later. We pulled into their parking lot on the 21st, and I had some grumbling to do. Plus a new place to find. What I found was something not at all new.

The Epicurean Restaurant opened in 1977. It has not moved one minute forward into the future. We have not visited such a timelost establishment as this in quite some time.

Still owned by the Petros family and still in the same location it opened 37 years ago, this is not too far removed from classic American diners that offer a little bit of everything, along with some gyros and spanakopita. Lots of food service frozen stuff, especially the fries, and some very friendly service and kind employees. The menu is not far removed from, say, Mediterranean Restaurant in Asheville NC or the Marietta Diner near us, but the owners shoot for a nicer, quieter eating experience.

I was pleased that the dressings and sauces are made in-house. I had a salad and a gyro, and gave the fries to the children, who weren’t otherwise all that hungry. It wasn’t worth knocking anybody over for, but it was tasty. It’s always interesting to visit these older restaurants that creep slowly along with an aging customer base. There were a few kids here in the company of their parents, but we were otherwise the youngest party here for the time we ate. We arrived shortly before six on a Saturday and the place was about half full, with more groups coming in behind us.

The place sort of quietly does its thing, serving its community without flash or pizzazz, from a building that looks more like a bank than a restaurant. I don’t know that we’d consider this destination dining or are all that likely to return, but I’m glad that we got to experience it before we made our way back home.

You can see all the restaurants that we have visited for our blog on this map, with links back to the original blog posts. It’s a terrific resource for anybody planning a road trip through the southeast!