Nancy and I canceled a planned trip to the Midwest continuing our 10K walks in the 50 state capitals in order to check in on my mother, Dear, who could be doing better. We stayed overnight at Bristol, ate, as we always do in Bristol, at 620 State Street, and continued on the next day. We hit Chattanooga around lunch time and would have gone to the Hickory Pit, but it’s closed on Monday. We found Choo Choo Barbecue not far from the interstate. If you need a landmark, it’s right across from the Choo Choo Express Car Wash.
We made a good choice. Choo Choo Bar-B-Que is a tiny place into which they somehow squeeze a flattop grill for burgers and the like, and a deep fryer. They have a drive-through on one side and a few tables on the other for dine-in service.
Tiny as it is, Choo Choo has what’s really important, the lovely sight and aroma of hickory-cooked barbecue.
As you can see, it’s a big grill, and they offer ribs, beef, and chicken, as well as pork. The food is cooked with attention, under the watchful eye of the pit guy, who darts out from the main structure from time to time to check on the meat.
I ordered a pork plate with potato salad and green beans.
Nancy, abstemious as ever, ordered a baked potato and cole slaw.
Before I could settle myself, Nancy said, “You have to taste this slaw!” I did and, sure enough, it was excellent.
Turning my attention back to the main event, the pork was good. The sauce was too sweet for my taste, but the meat was tender and flavorful. You can taste the hickory — no gas, just wood in the cooking. I didn’t look carefully, but I think they use an offset pit, so you don’t get that great bark that is the hallmark of pit-cooked barbecue, but this was pretty darn good.
And the sides were good. The potato salad was slightly overdressed — most potato salad is badly overdressed — but the potatoes weren’t overcooked, and it tasted good. The green beans were quite good.
Choo Choo is a good place, well worth a stop. The pork is good (get the sauce on the side), as are the sides we tried. The prices are great — $6.75 for my pork plate, and sandwiches range from $2.99 for grilled cheese to $6.25 for a bone-in rib sandwich. And you get to see the Choo Choo Express Car Wash as you eat. That alone is a pearl of great price.
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