Nikki’s Drive-Inn, Chattanooga TN (take two)

This place is best known for their shrimp, but they actually have a secret weapon on their menu. The fried chicken sandwich might just be the best one in town.

We first visited Nikki’s four years ago (here’s the more detailed story) after hearing that they serve incredible shrimp and onion rings. Both are true, and these rings rank among my favorite anywhere. Last summer, I came by for lunch and tried their chicken sandwich, and found myself loving that even more than their shrimp.

Nikki’s has been a fixture in this town since 1941, a great place where time moves very, very slowly. The prices are notably higher than most quick-service restaurants, but everything is made to order and worth it. I had planned to come by over the Christmas break when I took a couple of days off to spend the day with my son, but the restaurant was also taking a Christmas break and they weren’t open. (Where’d we go instead? See the next chapter.) I came back at the beginning of January because I’d started craving their chicken sandwich above all other things.

It’s not just the chicken breast that makes this so darn good, though a better breast you’ll have trouble finding. Nor is it the lightly toasted bun. It’s the mix of flavors that comes from that thin layer of cole slaw. It’s just perfect. I’m craving another just remembering it.

I’ve never had the fries here. I can’t imagine who would order those when these onion rings are available. My all-time favorite rings are at Pizza Palace in Knoxville. The ones at Nikki are the second-best in Tennessee, and that’s despite some pretty stiff competition from the rings at Sofa King Juicy Burger. One fellow at the counter poured the wonderful orange remoulade sauce all over them and ate them with a fork. I’m good with dipping, myself.

A sandwich, rings, drink, and a tip will come to about $15 here. I think it’s worth every penny. It’s a great place to come with a book and have a little getaway. It’ll get a little noisy around lunchtime, but you won’t mind much, and you’ll want to come back again.

(Oh, and you can get a mini-Moon Pie at the register for just fifty cents. How can anybody resist that?)

Other blog posts about Nikki’s Drive-Inn

Americana Classic Vintage (Feb. 10 2011)
A Simple Home Cook (Feb. 12 2012)
Chattaburger (July 31 2013)
A Life Unscripted (Aug. 16 2013)

Nikki’s Drive-Inn
899 Cherokee Blvd
Chattanooga, TN 37405


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!

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