One of my favorite nearby go-to spots is a no-frills place with good food and an even better drink.
Shallowford is a ridiculously fun road. It starts on McAllie near one of the three tunnels that cut through Missionary Ridge, goes up over that big hill with twisty and fun curves through the neighborhood, and meets Wilcox, one of the other roads that has a tunnel, swallowing it and heading north through some blight and industry. As it approaches TN-153, it looks like the last place in the world for a great little no-frills restaurant, but there on the right, across from several distribution centers and in a strip mall that looks like the army’s been shelling the parking lot with mortars, you’ll find a downright neat little sandwich place called Steamboat. It’s only open for four and a half hours a day, covering the locals’ lunch breaks, and they serve very good sandwiches and a delicious drink.
I read about Steamboat over at Chattavore back in the spring, and I’m not sure what made it seem like a standout in a town as full of delis and sandwich shops as this one, but I was intrigued. We’ve made four trips over here, at least one of the kids and me, and I’ve left wishing that I could take a bucket of their sweet orange tea with me every time.
I’ve described a lot of places over the years as “no frills,” but I really mean it with Steamboat. It’s a simple and cheap setup, utilitarian tables and chairs, with some photos and some reproductions of famous headlines on the wall. There’s usually no music, and the chairs aren’t especially comfortable, and on the first trip that my son and I made, the air conditioner had conked out and it was about a hundred and ten degrees in there. Yet I could easily spend a couple of hours here – now that they fixed the air conditioner – kicked back with a book, because the people who work here are so sweet and there’s simply, somehow, a calm and laid-back atmosphere. They are fast here. Guests grab chips on the way to the register, order, take a cup to get their drink, and, unless they’re being slammed, their order is ready within maybe half a minute of putting the straw in the lid.
The sandwiches are way better than most of their competition, in part because they bake their own bread here, and it’s really soft and crumbly. I just go with the specialty Steamboat, which comes with ham, salami, pork roast, and Swiss cheese with their special spicy sauce. It’s a completely delicious sandwich, and just six bucks with chips and a drink.
Now let me tell you about this drink. You can get a “hint of orange” tea from Petro’s Chili and Chips, but this is more than just a hint of orange. They wouldn’t share the secret with me, It’s delicious, and very sweet, and very orangey. I love having a place this close by the house. In time, I’ll start working again and probably won’t have the chance for many lunches here, but for now it is a terrific place to visit.
5950 Shallowford Rd
Chattanooga, TN 37421
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