Hixson has more chain restaurants than you can shake a chicken finger at.
So when some friends and I went in search of something we couldn't get everywhere else, we took the packed parking lot around Nick's Deli on Hixson Pike -- across from Abba's House -- as a good sign.
Nick's has a knack for sandwiches and is known for its New Orleans Muffalettas ($6.75) and Reubens ($6.39). I tried the Rosemary Ham ($6.75) and potato salad ($2.49), while my friend, who was suffering from a cold, looked to the healing powers of Lentil Soup ($3.29) and a Jumpin' Jack sandwich ($6.29). His wife ordered a soup and half-sandwich combo ($6.50) with tuna and lentils. Nick's offers all the classic deli favorites with several salad options and a Black Angus Burger ($6.99).
My sandwich was excellent with soft, flavorful, warm artisan bread and thicker-than-expected ham. It's not the shaved meat many delis serve but a fraction of an inch thicker and oh-so tender. The sun-dried tomatoes blended very well with the flavors of rosemary, pesto, provolone and Havarti. The potato salad was white and fluffy, which I always prefer to a dollop of the sticky, yellow stuff.
The lentils did not have any magic healing powers and were a tad salty, but my friends were pleased with their solid, but not spectacular, sandwiches.
I found the food to be very filling and almost didn't have room for a tasty, but hard, chocolate chip cookie.
As at most delis, customers at Nick's order from the counter. The staff clearly takes an interest in the customers, cutting up with and greeting a few of them by name. The friendly staff also cleared our table promptly as we finished.
This is my biggest knock on Nick's. At lunchtime on a Monday, we had to circle the strip shopping center and even pull into the handicap spot to wait for a space to open. Once we were inside, it became apparent the building used to be something else (maybe a convenience store?), and while the owners have put effort into making it feel more like a deli, there's more work to be done. But the large rotisserie of sizzling chickens and other touches can't take away all the attention from the mostly empty former retail shelves that encircle the diners.
Life's about adventure, and sometimes our restaurant options can get a little too predictable. If you're nearby, break free of the chains and give Nick's a shot.
IF YOU GO
Where: Nick's Deli, 5419 Hixson Pike.
Hours: 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.
Price range: $3.29 (cup of soup) to $6.99 (Black Angus Burger).