When I was in college, I had the ultimate sorority girl job at Monkey Business, a cute little shop on Frazier Avenue, on downtown Chattanooga’s North Shore. We sold jewelry, candles, and all sorts of fun, kitschy stuff in a fun atmosphere that closed by 7 p.m. daily (!). It was a dream, and I loved working there….but alas, Monkey Business closed not all that long after I left. What I was left with, though, was the memory of the chicken fingers and fries that Jan, the owner, used to bring us from Tubby’s Real Burgers. Back in the day, Tubby’s was just a little walk-up hamburger stand on Cherokee Boulevard (the less, um, desirable end of Frazier), and I had always assumed that it wasn’t any good. I mean, back then, a great hamburger to me was a quarter-pounder (my, how things change!). But I digress…..
Back to the chicken fingers and honey mustard. Honestly, I don’t really remember that much about the chicken fingers and fries that Jan brought us….I just remember the honey mustard. You see, I am a honey mustard fanatic. When I went to UTC I could frequently be found buying chicken fingers and fries in the University Center just to dip them in the Naturally Fresh honey mustard offered there (I also kept a jar in my fridge). I knew all the places to get the best honey mustard. The honey mustard at Tubby’s was a revelation. Seriously. I am going to venture to say that it was my first experience with homemade honey mustard, and it’s still some of the best I’ve had. Jan had asked for the recipe, but it’s a secret….so we all just had to settle for dipping our Tubby’s chicken fingers in it. Sigh.
Saturday night, Philip and I met some friends at Tubby’s for dinner (I just realized that 3 of my most recent restaurant posts have been with other people-what’s up with us actually being social? Anyway….). For years, I had to beg Philip to go there, but now he loves it, and it was actually his suggestion to go there.
Tubby’s is no longer a walk-up stand, although it is still on Cherokee Blvd., which is a lot nicer now than it was in 1999. They have a 2-room set-up: an indoor dining room and an outdoor, open air dining room where smoking is allowed. The only problem that I have with it at all is that they are sandwiched between two apartment buildings, and I guess the tenants of the apartments use the parking lots. The parking lot was nearly full, and we assumed that there were a ton of people inside….but when we walked in, only a couple of tables were occupied.
Now, I’m not going to make any bones about it. This place is a greasy spoon. Personally, I’m okay with that. They’re not putting on airs, and they don’t need to. They serve typical hamburger stand fare-a few burgers, a few appetizers (fried pickles!), a few other sandwiches (chicken, grilled cheese, etc.), a few dinner plates, fries, onion rings, tots, etc. I, however, did not consult the menu. I wanted a chicken fingers dinner, no ifs, ands, or buts. Philip ordered a 1/2-pound bacon-cheddar burger with everything (lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, mayo, mustard, and ketchup) and tots.
The food took about 10 minutes to come out, which is perfectly acceptable-that way I know that it’s being made when I order it. The guy is grilling the hamburgers about 4 or 5 feet behind the counter, and it’s an actual grill (with flames) and not a flat-top griddle. When they brought out our friends’ food, one of their burgers was wrong: he had ordered just lettuce and onion, and they brought it without lettuce and onion, but quickly fixed it. Ours was just right, so we took our pictures and dug in.
Philip says this is his favorite burger in Chattanooga. It’s just the right amount of greasy with just the right amount of grilled flavor. I tasted it, and it was great. It was definitely huge, and very drippy…just the way I like it. The tots were just regular old tots, out of a bag, I’m sure….but then, what restaurant makes their own tots???? Our friends both enjoyed their burgers too. Tubby’s actually serves a full-pound burger called “The Gut-Buster.” I’m scared.
My chicken fingers dinner came with slaw, grilled buttered toast, and skin-on fries. I am not a huge fan of slaw (except on my barbecue sandwiches at Rib & Loin), so I only took a bite or two. It tasted fine….but I just wasn’t interested. I don’t know if Tubby’s chicken fingers are homemade. They aren’t outstanding, but they’re pretty good. The fries, though…..the fries. I love skin-on fries (well, I love fries, period, but skin-on are my favorite), and I love to dip my fries in honey mustard. I think what I’ll do from now on is order a burger then order fries and honey mustard (hopefully they allow that!). The outside of the fries is very crispy, and the inside is very soft and fluffy. That’s a perfect fry, my friends.
So, if you are a fan of yummy greasy spoon fare, don’t let Tubby’s Real Burgers pass you by. Get a burger and fries (and honey mustard!). You won’t regret it!
Tubby’s Real Burgers is located at 710 Cherokee Boulevard, Chattanooga, TN 37405. You can call them at 423-265-0069. At this time, they don’t have a website or a Facebook page. You can view their menu on Urbanspoon.