Finally, there is a pleasant dining experience on the eastern edge of Tallahassee (at Mahan and I-10). Don’t get me wrong. I think that the Waffle House does what it does very well, as do the Eastern Chinese place and the Subway. But those places are just links in a chain with every link the same. They have their predictable menus that don’t offend, but don’t delight either.
Foody’s (in the Publix shopping center) is a nice, locally owned alternative. Don’t let the strip mall, storefront exterior put you off. Inside is cozy and pleasantly decorated with a beach motif.
What makes a place like Foody’s special compared to chains are the home made items they offer such as tuna and chicken salads and salad dressings. Foody’s advertises “delicious downhome cooking” and that is evident with their offerings of fried chicken gizzards or livers and fried green tomatoes. They also brag that their ground beef and chicken are always fresh and never frozen.
The menu isn’t large but there is a wide variety and it seems to offer something for everyone, from seafood (grouper fingers, shrimp, clams, and catfish) to vegetarian selections, hamburgers, and vegetable soup.
There's a variety of hamburgers (1/3 pound or ½ pound) including regular (with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onion); barbecue; bleu cheese and bacon; mushroom, Swiss, bacon, and sautéed onions; and jalapeno with bacon and pepper jack. There’s even a turkey burger.
They have chicken wings and tenders as well as a few sandwiches (Philly cheesesteak and country fried steak, for instance). The salad bar is extensive but there are also specialty salads such as cobb, Caesar, and Greek.
What caught my eye was the Blue Plate Special that includes an entrée, two sides, and bread ($5.99 at lunch and $8.99 at dinner). I was a little disappointed that most of the entrees were fried but some days there’s a wider variety. (The specials are posted on their website, www.foodystallahassee.com, every day.)
During my visits the service was fast and friendly and the owner/cook came out to see if I was satisfied. On one visit the baked chicken was moist with that fall-off-the-bones tenderness that you can only get by slow cooking for a long time. The side salad had Romaine rather than iceberg lettuce, a few chunks of tomato, grated carrots, and a couple of slices of cucumber. The green beans were tasty and tender.
On another visit I tried the “Monster” burger. The meat was cooked to my specifications (medium well) and was juicy and flavorful. Even the 1/3 pound burger was more than I could eat.
There were a couple of disappointments, though. When the sweet tea first arrived the flavor was great but it was tepid. By the time it had cooled the ice had melted and diluted the tea to flavored-water status. Many restaurants make the mistake of brewing tea then adding water to dilute it to the correct strength. Regrettably, the tea is still warm so it melts the ice when it’s served. The trick is to use ice to dilute and cool right after brewing.
The biggest dissatisfaction was the fried green tomatoes. The flavor of green tomatoes is very delicate and can be easily overpowered. In this case the cornbread coating was thicker than the tomato slice and it tasted more like a hushpuppy than anything else.
On a positive note, to end the meal there are marvelous, homemade desserts ranging from blonde brownies and peach cobbler to red velvet or Reeses cheesecake. You can’t find those in a chain restaurant!
Other things you might want to know include the following. Prices are reasonable (hamburgers from $3.49 to $7.50, sandwiches from $3.95 to $4.95). They have a limited selection of beer and wine available. There are two umbrella tables outside if you like. They have free WiFi. There are two 15 minute parking spaces in front to make order-ahead, take out easy.
If I were giving stars I would give Foody’s 4 of 5. They’re certainly worth a try and certainly beat the chains.