Almost since we began the blog, readers have been suggesting we visit this sixty-six year-old Southern buffet and try their fried chicken. It took us a while, but we finally made it over here.
Bea’s is an all-you-can-eat place that opened in 1950 in an older, almost secluded area of Chattanooga called East Lake. The neighborhood grew in the 1910s and 1920s as a mill town, and the park was home to the city’s first zoo. Bea’s opened as the demographics started changing and residents started making their way to the suburbs for larger homes and lots. It seems like most of the people who live here now are renters, and most of the business is auto repair shops. It’s a charming, neat and old place, and a pleasant surprise that Bea’s has thrived for so long here.
Many people report that one of the fun things about Bea’s is that they will seat you at a table with other parties and you will all share meals from a lazy susan. Unfortunately we didn’t get the full Bea’s experience; they were kind of slow on this Saturday evening and so the three of us had a table to ourselves.
The menu doesn’t vary too much. It’s about $14 for adults, and you get some good fried chicken breasts, some very good chicken and dumplings, and some marinated-in-the-sauce stuff that purports to be barbecue. The vegetables are all really good, particularly the creamed corn and beets, and you get potatoes and bread and hot chow-chow. Dessert was a cobbler, but I didn’t have room for it.
We really enjoyed the whole experience of Bea’s more than we did the food alone. Not that the food was bad – we haven’t had chicken and dumplings that good in quite a while – but the simple and casual atmosphere, and the old building with its vintage old brick tile flooring was the sort of place you don’t see very often anymore. The servers were incredibly upbeat and seemed to really enjoy welcoming all their guests. For a step back in time with some good food, this is a great place to visit.
4500 Dodds Ave
Chattanooga, TN 37407
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