On a rare afternoon when my wife and I were off work and ready and willing to venture out for lunch, Mother Nature decided to water the plants ... for next year and into the next. On a day that the animals were pairing up, we decided to look close to home and stay in the Brainerd/East Ridge area.
Fortunately, there is plenty to choose from, even the ethnic genres that we were craving. After quite a bit of discussion and going back and forth between Chinese, Japanese and Mexican, we found ourselves at the front door of Mexi-Wings VII, a relatively new place near Pep Boys and Harbor Freight.
IF YOU GO
Where: Mexi-Wings VII, 5773 Brainerd Road.
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
Price range: $1.49 (grilled cheese sandwich)-$18.99 (Texas fajitas for two).
Mexi-Wings VII is in a location that has been a restaurant of some kind for several years. It is a large, open, inviting space with tables and booths. Its large space could easily accommodate large groups of athletic teams and sports fans who want to gather to watch the game while they eat.
The large windows are nice, though, again, on this day, we watched it pour.
My only real complaint is the large numbers stuck to the wall or table to help the staff remember the tables. They are tacky.
The menu is ginormous. The take-out menu, for example, is printed on 11x17 paper. The specials take up one quarter of the inside. Also offered are lunch specials, New California Burritos, American dishes, vegetarian combinations, a la carte items, drinks and a kids menu.
There are more items on the back, including more combinations, desserts, appetizers/salads, nacho dinners and the house specialty, wings.
It's a big menu.
Under the American heading, you can choose between burgers, dogs and fries, but also shrimp cocktail, chicken fingers, a barbecue pork sandwich, sloppy Joe, spaghetti or grilled cheese.
There are 10 vegetarian combinations, almost 20 a la carte items and nearly 30 specials on the menu.
We started with the wings, since they are in the name of the place. My wife likes wings more than I do, and we both agreed they were good. Really good. They took a while to arrive, which is not always a bad thing in my opinion. The place was hardly crowded, so I assumed it meant our wings were being prepared, and I don't mean simply nuked.
Our order consisted of five hot wings for $3.50. They arrived with blue cheese dressing, a few fresh celery sticks and a homemade red-pepper-based sauce that I liked quite a bit.
For lunch, I ordered the chimichangas and my wife got the chili relleno and the tamale with chicken.
Now, I have come to the understanding that there is Mexican cuisine and then there is Mexican-style cuisine that we Americans have grown to like, or accept. Both of our dishes fit more into the latter style. Each of the entrees could have used a little more flavor. We adapted by spicing it up with the salsa that was served with the chips when we sat down.
My plate came with cheese sauce, lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, refried beans and fried rice, and they were all fresh and fairly tasty by Mexican-American restaurant standards.
Our waiter and the second staff member who delivered our food were both very friendly and helpful. They met us, and the other customers who came in, at the door.
As I said, the wings took a little while to get to our table, but the main entrees were delivered promptly. Chips and salsa were delivered as the drink orders were being taken.
The large menu at Mexi-Wings VII, and the name itself, might be a clue as to the quality of the food to be expected. It is more of a bar atmosphere, and if that is what you want, it's a good place to eat.
The wings are worth the visit alone.
As my wife remarked as we walked out, "I'd go there for the wings and a beer."
Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...