Innside Restaurant, Chattanooga TN

While my son was on winter break, I took a couple of days off work to stay home and play with him. We went out for a chicken sandwich and found that place closed for Christmas vacation. Fortunately, I had a backup plan on my city to-do list.

Back in the fall, I did the sensible thing that everybody who lives in or moves to Chattanooga should do, and that’s read over Chattavore’s long list of restaurant reviews. If I hadn’t done that, I’d never have known about Innside Restaurant, which she had visited following reader suggestions for good burgers in town. I recalled that she had enjoyed those as we pulled into a lot on Broad Street, but I was hoping for a good chicken sandwich.

What we found was all right, not my favorite around here by any means, but I really like this little place. Its current owners purchased it in 1991, but it has been open since the mid-sixties and it looks and feels delightfully timelost. Unfortunately for design geeks like me, the place was completely packed and so I really couldn’t get any good photographs of some totally mod wallpaper in the back, but everything about the place, from the long counter to the layout, is a beautiful throwback. They don’t make ’em like this anymore.

I had their chicken sandwich, which is made with a couple of tenders, and my son, surprising nobody, ordered a hot dog, and we shared some fries. None of this was fresh, but then again, none of this is where this restaurant excels, either. People come from the nearby offices for their meat-and-three selections, it turns out. Chicken and dumplings was the special of the day. I think that to get a better feel for what this place can do, you should check out the specials, and order the broccoli casserole, like the nice woman who sat next to us at the counter.

For dessert, I ordered a slice of strawberry creme pie for us to share. My son wasn’t as taken with it as I hoped, and he loves strawberry ice cream, so I dunno what’s up with that. Then we skedaddled, because a really big crowd of high school-aged kids had come in behind us. They were grumbling because they’d walked several blocks north to have lunch at Genghis Grill only to find the place closed for good and needed something to eat.

From their name tags, I got the feeling they were at one of the downtown hotels for some conference or other. The Read House, which opened its current facility in 1926, is right behind Innside. As my son and I walked around the block and back to our car, I noticed the white brick annex that faces the rear of the larger, original red brick building. I first came to spend time in this city without my folks in January 1986 when a small sci-fi conference called Chattacon was held in this hotel. Never would have dreamed then that thirty years later I’d be spending this much time here.

Innside Restaurant
Pioneer Building
800 Chestnut St
Chattanooga, TN 37402

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