Chattanooga Now Review: Wally's Restaurant still going strong at 80 years

Chattanooga Now Review: Wally's Restaurant still going strong at 80 years

December 27th, 2017 by Jim Tanner in Chattnow Dining

Cube steak, lima beans, fried okra and mac and cheese made a filling meat-and-three meal on a chilly day.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

If you go

› Where: Wally’s Restaurant, 1600 McCallie Ave; or 6521 Ringgold Road

› Hours: 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, McCallie Avenue location; 6:45 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, East Ridge

› Price range: Meat-and-three $6.95, four vegetables $6.50, three vegetables $5.25

› Phone: 423-698-4643 McCallie Avenue; 423-899-6151 Ringgold Road

› Website:

EDITOR'S NOTE: This review wraps up Chattanooga Now's series of spots our staff frequents for good service and conversation, favorite dishes or the one-of-a-kind Chattanooga restaurants that make us love our Scenic City. A new year calls for a new series of reviews, which will spotlight newly opened venues.

The meat-and-three.

Admit it — when you read those words you smiled and thought of good, old-fashioned, Southern comfort food. Unless you happen to be a vegetarian, but I'll address that in a bit.

Now that we're fully into the cold winter months with a new year just days away, sometimes a hot meat-and-three of country cooking is just the thing to take off the chill. There are many great meat-and-three restaurants in Chattanooga, and each of us has our favorite. But one place in particular has been around longer than most of us have been alive and it's the perfect place to grab a good meal.

Wally's Restaurant opened for business in May 1937, and for 80 years, the McCallie Avenue location has been a popular lunch spot for hungry Chattanoogans. It's not unusual to see some of the leaders of local business, government and media seated at nearby tables.


Wally's has been in the same building since it was built in 1970 on the location of the original drive-in restaurant. The space is a typical diner. Nothing fancy, but just what you need when you're hungry for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

There's a lunch counter, where you can watch the food come out while you enjoy your meal, and there are plenty of booths and tables of various sizes that will accommodate single diners to large groups.


While the focus today is on the meat-and-three meal at Wally's, it should be noted that the restaurant's original claim to fame was its hamburgers. The original Wally's featured curb service and was popular with young people as the home of the "Best Burger in Chattanooga" in the 1930s and 1940s.

While prices have gone up a touch since the days of the 25-cent Wally's Burger, they're still on the menu (and less than $4), and I bet they still taste pretty darn good. I never get past the meat-and-three, but one of these days I will try that hamburger.

Wally's is also known for a great breakfast menu to get the morning started. The lunch menu features a variety of sandwiches, soups, salads and even a ribeye steak. But the lunchtime draw, for most folks, is the meat-and-three menu. A printed insert in each day's menu lets diners know what meats and fresh vegetables are available, as well as freshly made desserts.

Meat-and-three or meat-and-two may be chosen, or a vegetable plate of up to four vegetables can be ordered if you don't want to eat meat. (Vegetarians, I told you I would have something for you.)


On a chilly day in late December, I (naturally) went with the meat-and-three during my lunch visit to Wally's.

Cube steak with gravy accompanied by lima beans, fried okra and macaroni and cheese paired nicely with sweet tea for a filling country meal. The steak was tender and smothered in gravy, and the sides were served hot and fresh. Pretty much perfect.


One of the secrets to Wally's success and longevity is the friendly staff, who keep drinks topped off and make sure customers get their food served fast and hot.

Many of the servers have worked at Wally's for years, and they know many of their customers by name — and often by their usual lunch order. Even if they don't know you, the staff at Wally's is always ready to offer a smile during your meal and a fond farewell when it's time to get back to work.

Good food will bring guests to any restaurant, but good service is what keeps folks coming back. Wally's has had this formula for success figured out for more than 80 years.


Wally's Restaurant has survived decades in Chattanooga by serving great food with great service, and the crowded restaurant on any day indicates that it will be around for years to come.

The meat-and-three isn't a fancy meal, but it sure can be satisfying.

If you haven't been, you should head to Wally's to see what the fuss is about. You won't regret it.

I swear next time I'll try the Wally Burger. Unless they're serving country-fried chicken that day I can't resist country-fried chicken.

Contact Jim Tanner at Follow him at

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Chattanooga Times Free Press Comments Policy

The Chattanooga Times Free Press web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Times Free Press web sites and any content on the Times Free Press web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Times Free Press, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Times Free Press websites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Chattanooga Times Free Press
400 East 11th Street
Chattanooga, TN 37403
Phone: 423-757-6315