On The Road: Pal’s Sudden Service
She Said: Pal’s
Whenever we go to East Tennessee (or southwestern Virginia) I always have to stop at Pal’s Sudden Service. I’ve been a fan of Pal’s ever since my Father first took me to one when I was in middle school. And when we finally got a Pal’s in our town, I wanted to go all the time. It’s still a big tradition for me to stop there and I almost always find some time that I can go on each visit.
What is Pal’s Sudden Service? It’s a little fast food chain that is so addictive that senior year we are there before formal instead of going out. Well, actually since almost all Pal’s are drive through only we bought it and at it at Formal. That’s love! Well, actually that’s Pal’s love. You can just say Peachy Tea to some folks I know and they will start sighing and their eyes glaze over with desire.
Pal’s is cute! There little buildings always have big hot dogs and hamburgers attached to them. They have an inspirational sweet message board that’s different every day like “make fudge” or “There’s no place like home”. I follow them on Facebook because I like them so much and because I love to get their thought of the day.
We usually stop at the Pal’s in my hometown but this time we stopped on the way to Pigeon Forge in Bristol, VA. We’d had a great experience last time. I don’t know if it was because we went at a not very busy time but the food wasn’t as well prepared as it usually is. In fact we got it again the next week in my hometown and it was so much better with no problems. So, this review is kind of a mash up of those two experiences.
I like the Big Pal burger, the chipped ham (no mayo or lettuce!) but my favorite thing to order from here is their hot dog. I like hotdogs but I don’t want to eat too many of them so I prefer to order them when we go out. I get a plain hot dog and it’s always yummy. I don’t like most hot dog condiments so I always like it when I can order something plain without it being a hassle. Pal’s workers are so friendly and efficient I have never had memorable problem with ordering.
I love Pal’s Frenchie Fries. Sometimes, if I’m really homesick I will make them (maybe once a year). Their sodium count must be astronomical so I wouldn’t recommend eating them often, but they are delicious. Crispy French fries are always good but everything is better with a good coat of seasoning salt, right?
I like the chocolate shake. I always get one to drink because Pal’s is famous for their shakes and their tea. And since I don’t drink tea (no, none at all and yes, I’ve tried tea from all over several times and I hate, hate, hate it), I always get their chocolate shake. I like it because it’s very thick and it’s very sweet. The first shake I got kind of strange tasted and I sipped it a bit before deciding not to finish it.
I have to say in all honesty the food is a little salty and a teensy bit lacking in diverse flavors. I have such great memories of eating here that I’m sure that I’ll keep coming back. Twice in one week won’t happen again even while traveling (I’ve been feeling all that fast food catch up with me). But, I’m really glad that we participated in our tradition while we were down there. The Frenchie fries alone were worth it and you know I appreciate a good hot dog!
Hot Dog- 5
Frenchie Fries- 8
Chocolate Shake- 4
Overall Rating- 6
He Said Pal’s Sudden Service
It’s kind of a tradition or ours to stop by Pal’s and have a meal whenever we’re in the area. They don’t have any up here, and since they don’t franchise, that’s not likely to change anytime soon. For those not in the know, Pal’s is a burger and fries drive through only (although I’m told there are a few that have seating) affair. I wind up ordering sandwiches that you can’t get anywhere else: either the chipped ham, or the big chicken. Frenchie Fries are in my mind the required side. This time I opted for the big chicken.
I was fortunate to be able to still order the big chicken. It’s not on the menu on their website anymore, but the Bristol, Va location still offers it. Thinly sliced chicken, shredded lettuce, tomato, mayo, and grainy mustard. I usually get mine without lettuce or tomato, but forgot this time and wound up with tomato on it. It added a little something that was unexpected. I might get it that way again sometime. The ingredients are very simple, but paired together, they sing. The result is a meaty, creamy, bite with a little extra kick from the mustard. The only downside is that it is very messy. When you’re eating your food at home, this isn’t so bad. The sensation of the mix of the mustard and mayo running down the side of your hand can add to the adventure. We however, ate our order while we were driving down I-81, and the resultant mess on my hands meant that I couldn’t finish the whole thing (sad face) and that Kari had to help me clean off my hands (happy face for having a great copilot that could help.) I also wound up with both mustard and mayo on my shirt (sad face again). I would definitely get this sandwich again, but not for dining on the go. The other sandwich I typically get is the chipped ham. Similar idea, but with ham instead, and it’s served with just pickles and mayo. It’s also very good, and I suspect it would work better in the car setting.
Frenchie Fries are always a great accompaniment to a Pal’s sandwich. They’re not like the fries you get other places. They have a healthy dusting of seasoning salt on them, and are always crisp. That little bit of spice is a good palate cleanser for your next bite, while at the same time still being exciting to your taste buds. If you get nothing else, get these. Seriously, they’re worth it alone. I’ve never seen fries like this anywhere else.
We shared a chocolate shake as a drink. I didn’t like it as much as I normally do. The syrup must not have been evenly distributed through the shake. Some sips (we were using a straw, so of course I only used dainty sips, and never gulps. Or I waited to start until Kari was done so I wouldn’t look like to big a pig, one of the two) were very flavorful while others had a weird flavor to them that is hard to describe, but just felt off. I had a strawberry shake later on in the week and that was fruity and creamy, and hit the spot.
Pal’s is truly one of a kind (okay, 22 of a kind) and you should make sure to stop at one if you’re in the Virginia/Tennesse border area.
Big Chicken Rating-8
Frenchie Fries Rating-10
Chocolate Shake Rating-4