A recent post on Facebook had my mouth watering: "Who makes the best onion rings in town?"
There were several answers, but the one that got the most responses, and the one restaurant I'd never visited, was Rallo's Bar & Grill.
When I checked out the menu online, not only did the onion rings sound good, but the restaurant proclaimed to have the best burgers on Signal Mountain. I took this as a challenge, of sorts — a chance to see if these claims were true.
This is a bar and grill, and the menu follows suit. There's lots of fried everything, including mushrooms, pickles, cheese, chicken and shrimp. Go ahead and blow your diet. But if you must, there's a grilled chicken wrap, grilled chicken salad and a grilled chicken quesadilla, one of several quesadillas on the menu. But I was here for a burger — that "best burger on the mountain" burger. There were several versions from which to choose: a one-third-pounder, a half-pounder, a burger with mushrooms and Swiss, a Philly cheese version and the Double Mountain Burger, a whopper with a pound of meat and all the fixings. I was hungry, but not that hungry.
I decided on a half-pound burger with those famous onion rings.
The onion rings come about eight rings to an order, but they're huge and made for sharing. You know how you bite into some onion rings and the entire onion slides out and you're left with a ring of fried batter and the onion dripping down your chin? I don't know the secret to Rallo's onion rings, but you get a full bite of onion with each bite. The onion stays put inside its breading. If there's such a thing as a pleasant onion ring experience, this was it. The batter was seasoned nicely as well.
The burger was as big as the photos I'd seen online. Admittedly, it was not hand-patted, said owner Ronald Potter. There was a time when he made them by hand, but that was when he didn't have to make so many. Now he buys them formed, but Potter adds his own seasoning. The flavor was outstanding, but the burger came with a cold bun. There's something about a cold burger bun that puts me off. My server was gracious and said nothing about my peculiarity when it comes to warm buns. Within a minute, it had been warmed on the grill and, like Humpty Dumpty, my burger was put back together again with a mound of fresh lettuce, a thick slice of tomato and lots of pickles. With two hands and my mouth opened wide, it soon disappeared. This is a good burger. One of the best in town.
If you go
Where: Rallo’s Bar & Grill, 3456 Highway 127, Signal Mountain
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. CDT Tuesday-Saturday
Price range: Sandwiches, wraps, quesadillas and burgers start at $6; weekend specials $11 (Friday catfish and shrimp) and $24 (Saturday steak, a 14-ounce ribeye with trimmings)
Alcohol: Beer and wine
Online: www.ourrestaurantmenu.com/rallos or Facebook
Rallo's is a bar and grill. That's it. There's nothing fancy about this place. There's a bar with half a dozen bar stools, three TVs and a few tables. There are also a couple of tables with umbrellas for shade on a patio outside. The interior is small but well lit and appeared to have been freshly painted. Tables are dressed with napkin dispensers and bottles of Heinz ketchup. Meals are served on paper plates with plastic flatware. Like I said, nothing fancy. Rallo's is a bar with cold beer and good food. And it delivers.
Though there were several guys at the bar, mine was the only table filled at a late-afternoon dinner. What I didn't realize was that there was a time change between my house in Soddy-Daisy and Rallo's on Signal Mountain. It was 4:30 Central time — a little on the early side of the dinner hour. That being the case, I had my server to myself, and she did a lovely job. No complaints. I was in and out in under an hour.
I can't say the burger was the best on Signal Mountain because I have nothing to compare it to — I've never had another burger on the mountain. But if you like a burger with plenty of flavor and one that takes two hands to maneuver into your mouth, you won't be disappointed.
Contact Anne Braly at email@example.com or at annebraly.com.