Sweet Side Cafe outside Verona, Tennessee. . .So close and yet not exactly on the beaten path. . . .
Sweet Side Cafe has the sort of slap-yer-mama fare that grows the population of a once-thriving town known as Caney Springs every day at lunch hour. In fact, I hate to even publicize pictures of the club sandwich with tangy, country ham you can’t get anywhere else, or the grilled chicken tenders with a side of creamed potatoes and home-made mac and cheese, not to mention the red, white, and blue salad with raspberry vinaigrette over mixed greens, feta cheese, walnuts, strawberries, and grilled chicken. This quaint spot is already covered up with electrical workers, construction guys, and moms taking their kids on summer outings. But if you show up early, you won’t have any trouble finding a seat.
Lured by the promise of catfish, white beans, slaw, and hushpuppies, we soon found ourselves paralyzed at the thought of what we might be missing. Now, we have to go back to check out the original catfish dinner, frustrated because we don’t live next-door so we can eat every meal there.
Lest I leave the wrong impression, Sweet Side Cafe has a unique mix of stick-to-your ribs Southern traditional food and some surprising finds, such as cranberry-walnut French toast and chicken salad on honey-wheat bread. Each day, they line up the pies: often its chocolate meringue, chocolate-pecan, and chess, some in mini-pie size and some regular sized. The chef often surprises with new items on the menu; guests find specials of the day featured on a traditional blackboard at the bottom of the stairs of the old store.
Sweet Side Cafe is located on the corner of Old Hwy 99 and Highway 99 between Lewisburg and Chapel Hill, Tennessee. From Lewisburg, you take Highway 272, the Verona-Caney Road, take a quick left and then the next right on Old Highway 99. From Nashville, you take 31A to Highway 99 on your right (you’ll be heading west).
If you’re interested in staying in the area, Henry Horton State Park is nearby with a variety of cabins, an inn, a pool, fishing on the Duck River, and a restaurant of its own.