This week, Monica and I had dinner at Diamond Billiard Club at 3600 Hixson Pike. This hometown-style bar and pool hall is not to be confused with Diamonds & Lace, which is a strip club and, to my knowledge, has no affiliation. Look for the shopping center with Food City, Rice Boxx and Jet’s Pizza … Diamond Billiard is hard to miss in the back left corner.
I’ve been in Diamond a few times for a beer, but I’ve never had dinner or played pool (that I can recall). If you’re a fan of local wing competitions, the Diamond flavors are certainly no stranger. They’ve knocked off some spectacular wings from “fancier” places with their Cheech & Chong flavor and the to-die-for Blackberry Bourbon Sriracha. Diamond is also one of the only places in Chattanooga that I’ve found Old Bay wings, which are a northeastern staple.
As with any bar/pool hall, the specials are worth noting. If you like wings, Wednesday is “wing night” with $. 65 bone-in and $. 75 boneless or smoked available. The daily drink specials are worth noting if you like Jager Bombs and Fireball. Diamond also claims to be the meeting place for service industry professionals post-work with $1 domestic beers, $3 shot specials and half-price appetizers Sun-Thurs 10 p.m. to close. The kitchen is open until 2 a.m.
Diamond has a ton of positive features for the person looking to hang out, have a few cold ones and rack up some balls.
As I mentioned, it’s been years since I’ve visited Diamond but my distinct memory was that it felt kind of dirty. Not the case in 2018. In fact, I was immediately struck by how pristine everything was for a smoking pool hall. The floors were clean, the pool tables were impeccably cared for and the smoke, though present, was funneled out quickly by well-placed ventilators. It kind of reminded me of a casino atmosphere. Our IDs were checked at the door and we sat at a booth just to the left of the dart alleys. Bread’s “Everything I Own” blasted from the speakers.
I used to be a member of a pool league at Chattanooga Billiard Club. We met on Thursday nights and I quit when I found myself getting too competitive and worked up about what was supposed to be a fun game. I’m not sure if it was a league match, but the patrons on the far left of the establishment all seemed to know each other and were having a good time. Diamond has 9 pool tables, 10 dart boards and two Golden Tee machines.
Our server was Celeste. She brought us menus and told us about the Tuesday night special which included $2 beers like PBR, Rolling Rock and Natty Light. There is a $5 Washington Apple and $5.50 Vegas Bombs and Man Mosas. I don’t know what those mixed drinks are, but they’re on sale on Tuesday nights. I ordered a Miller Lite draft and Monica stuck with water. She had just finished a workout that involved balancing two ostrich eggs on her back while imitating a bear climbing a mountainside. She calls it “CrossFit,” but I just call it dangerous. Where are the Ostrich parents? Anyway, she was tired and didn’t want to mess up the hard work she just put in.
I was already impressed by the cleanliness of Diamond and the menu made me giddy with cringeworthy puns like Yardbird Sticks (chicken fingers), Cue Ball Quesadillas, The Big House Salad and, my favorite, the Touchy Philly. A few head-scratchers stood out to me: Pulled Pig Butt sounds like the painful reason you might visit a doctor. And imagine being an adult and having to say to your server, “I’ll have the Chicky Chicky Boom Boom Salad, please.” The names are cute but if the food weren’t delicious it would be desperate. There’s a thin line between stupid and clever. It’s a line I walk every day.
My dear wife (Monica and I got married. I told you that, right? She says I didn’t), ordered the Chicky Sammi which contains a “marinated chicken boob, lettuce, tomato and mayo.” Instead of fries, she got steamed broccoli. I ordered 12 total wings, six Cheech & Chong and six Lemon Pepper. We also got a basket of fried pickle chips that I consumed 75 percent of because of the ostrich egg workout. A few friends frequent Diamond and told me their favorite food items are the wings — specifically the Cheech & Chong — and the “American Dip,” which is just a French Dip with the description that it is “way better than a french dip. Go ‘Merica!”
The fried pickles were chipped and deep fried in a salty, well-seasoned batter. Monica thought they were a tad too salty, but I like salt and ate them up with the ranch dipping sauce. These chips were thick and held the batter better than spears.
Cheech & Chong are the quintessential stoner hippie stereotypes. The wings are, of course, named in their honor. They can be separated or combined because Cheech is a rub and Chong is a sauce. To my taste, the Cheech rub is heavy on smoked paprika. The Chong sauce tastes like a sweet and sour or Thai chili combo. They are excellent together stoned or not. Lemon pepper wings are my favorite wings. These were cooked well, but a tad underseasoned. A dollop of blue cheese helped. I can’t wait to try all the wing varieties: Mojo, BBQ Sriracha Garlic, El Flamo Del Gato, Jalapeño Cheddar and that award-winning Blackberry Bourbon Sriracha.
Monica’s sandwich was enjoyable. The chicken pattie was moist and flavorful thanks to the bbq seasoning and grilling. Her steamed broccoli was a reminder that you shouldn’t order steamed broccoli at a bar. The fries would’ve been better to look at than the steamed broccoli was to eat. Stick with fries. They also have great house chips and Tater Tots I’m told.
Would we go back?
At this point in my life, I don’t necessarily need to become a regular at a billiard club. But if I were looking for a place to grab a quick bite, shoot a few games of pool with some friends or just watch a ballgame, Diamond is convenient enough to my house that it makes total sense to go here instead of downtown. It’s not a great “first date” kind of place, but a third or fourth date when you feel comfortable enough to show your ass at pool. I watched a man casually sink 7 balls on the break while I ate wings. The sharks are swimming out there. Be careful.
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