Wizard Needs Food Badly: The Stars Align For Champy’s

Tuesday, July 19, 2016 - by Paquita Maria Sanchez

Summer thunderstorms had doused our plans to spend the evening at the drive-in. Lionel and I were pretty bummed, since we’d been looking forward to the new Ghostbusters for some time, so we decided to make the best out of our night by going to the theater and out to eat.

After catching a matinee at the Majestic 12, we both pretty easily agreed on dinner at Champy’s. I don’t know how other, more functional, couples decide on their meals, but for us it’s typically a pretty grueling process—mostly resulting in a whole lot of deference and blame.

But that evening the stars seemed to have aligned in our favor and we both could not think of anything more appealing than some good ol’ fried chicken.

We were both pretty hungry, and we knew what we wanted, so we ordered almost as soon as we’d been seated. Lionel got the chicken finger basket which came with four tenders and fries ($9.95). I got a buffalo fried chicken salad with blue cheese dressing ($9.95). 

We really must have been on the same wave-length that night, because after hearing my order Lionel asked for his chicken tenders to be tossed in buffalo sauce. 

If you’ve never been to Champy’s before, I recommend eating in just to have the full experience. Though it was pouring again by the time we were seated inside, the outdoor patio is a great place to dine on a warm summer night. The inside has its charms too, though, with colorful lighting, blues and rock n’ roll music, and patron-decorated dollar bills stapled all over the walls.

At its very worst, Champy’s can conjure a bit of a touristy feel. On a Saturday night there’s sometimes a sense that the place is packed full of out-of-towners contemplating whether or not they’ll get a T-shirt to go with their leftovers. I don’t mean to chide the restaurant for that—tourism is a huge part of Chattanooga’s economy and it’s great to see it in action. However, some places seem to feel a bit more obvious than others.

What really matters, however, is whether or not Champy’s delivers what it advertises. Does it really deserve to be called “world famous,” as its menu proclaims?

World famous, I couldn’t say, but Chattanooga famous? Tennessee famous? Southeast famous? Why not? The chicken is perfectly battered and has a great crunch. I’ve tried it both regular and with buffalo sauce and love both. In the past, I’ve enjoyed both their fried jalapeños ($8.25) and fried pickle spears ($9.50), and I’ve been told their homemade tamales are great (6 for $10.99, 12 for $21.50).

I think the prices and portions on the entrees and sides are just right, though I have to admit the cost of the appetizers typically keeps me from ordering them unless I’m out with a group. The waitstaff has always been fast and friendly, even when busy. 

As for our dinners that night, Lionel and I couldn’t complain. He enjoyed his fries and tenders, though he mentioned more than once that the buffalo sauce sure had a bite. I thought it was perfect, but I’m a sucker for the combination of buffalo sauce and blue cheese. The salad comes with pickles, too, and though I’d normally find that a bit strange, its perfect for the dish. 

Overall, Champy’s has great food, a good atmosphere, and asks the right price.

Location: 536 E Martin Luther King Blvd 

Hours: SUN - TH 10:30 am- 10pm
            F - SAT 10:30 am - 12 am

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