Make the drive to Allentown for good Southern food at an unbeatable price

Telegraph correspondentSeptember 7, 2012 

I’m always up for an adventure, so when my editor assigned me to review A&A Grocery and Restaurant in Allentown (where is Allentown?) I knew it was going to be interesting.

The drive was just a short jaunt down Interstate 16. Pass a bunch of wild turkeys, a yellow dog and a soybean field, and you’re in Allentown, population 167. Be prepared to be the evening’s entertainment -- all diners face the door to see who’s coming in, and you could be the only out-of-towner there.

The A&A is not trying to be anything other than what it is, which is a short order place for hamburgers, fried chicken and catfish. The “grocery” part is for the locals’ convenience only and might have 40 items in all, so don’t plan to stock up while you’re there for dinner.

Our server waited on every person there and gave the orders to the ladies in the kitchen. There was more than a passing resemblance to Aunt Mattie in Fitzgerald, to say the least. It reminded me of a church dinner where you get to pick what you want before it gets cooked.

The prices were like a church diner, too. We ordered a fried chicken dinner with three huge pieces of chicken, homemade potato salad and a roll for $5.29; a catfish dinner with two filets, coleslaw and homemade fries for $8.29; and a hamburger that could have come from the backyard grill with fries for $2.89. Wait -- $2.89? That’s right, $2.89.

Some more unbelievable prices are the bacon cheeseburger for $3.99, the barbecue sandwich for $2.59, and the fish sandwich for $2.89. I wish we had tried the great-looking onion rings and the okra for $2.89. Hot wings are three for $1.99 and up to 12 for $4.99.

Sometimes there is a buffet dinner for $9.25 (call ahead) and other items include pork chops, chicken strips, fried shrimp and liver. Everything is about $5 and includes at least one side and a roll.

Breakfast is served all day long an includes your choice of country ham, patty and link sausage, pork chop, streak-o-lean or city ham, plus one or two eggs, grits and toast or a made-fresh-that-day buttermilk biscuit for about $5.

If you want just the meat on a biscuit, expect to pay between $1.59 and $2.59 (the prices for a chicken biscuit or a tenderloin on a biscuit). Hash browns come with melted cheese, onions, peppers, tomatoes and diced ham for $3.39. You can get omelets for less than $5 with the exception of the Western omelet for $6.39. All omelets come with grits and a biscuit or toast.

This is one hard-working diner and it has the hours to prove it. If you grew up in the South and want to relive your childhood memories of homemade, handmade food, or if you’re not from around here and want to see what life was like a few decades ago, visit the A&A Grocery and Restaurant. You may just find something you’ve been hungry for, for a long time.

A&A Grocery and Restaurant

Address: 803 U.S. 80, Allentown

Phone: (478) 962-3500

Hours: 5 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturdays, 6 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays

Health rating: none (inspected through USDA)

Kids Menu: Yes

Alcohol: No

Noise level: Low

Handicap access: Yes

Rating 2.5 stars

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