164 E Main St.
Hendersonville, TN 37075
The Black-Eyed Pea was once a large regional restaurant chain that originated mostly in Texas and Colorado. Founded in Dallas in 1975 it later spread around the country with over 130 locations focused on the southern United States. Some bankruptcies later, it’s faded from that size but some residual locations remain. The Hendersonville location, one of about a dozen that remain, has been family owned and operated since 2001, and it’s kind of an Americana experience that’s especially comforting given this city’s otherwise rapid change and the influx of edgier and more flashpan kinds of food.
The menu is definitely oriented toward the southern comfort food market. Some of the things I liked:
- Cajun grilled catfish: The catfish is flaky and soft and, not surprisingly, has a little bit of a heat to it that really sticks. Assertive heat, but just really enjoyable! They say the best sides are Cole slaw and okra which complement the mellow fish pretty well.
- Southwestern chicken wrap: A pretty simple wrap with the grilled chicken and a nice ranch dressing, cheddar and Monterey jack cheese, bacon pico and avocado give a lot of dimension to this dish, but it’s no less delicious. Probably a good option if you’re wanting to avoid the heavy plates of fried food.
- Grilled chicken breast & two vegetables: A pretty straightforward lunch special without too much noise to it. I do like this one because it’s just perfect if you’re in the mood for essentially a light dish to differentiate from all those over-the-top hefty big plates.
- Beef liver & onions: Beef liver sautéed with brown gravy and some diced onions, which has a heavy and savory dish. Definitely popular with the older crowd, and with that group it might use some more salt.
So I like the bar for its bright, wood-and-stone tavern kind of feel, which resonates especially well when it’s dressed up for the winter or in the cold months. The service is good, it’s an old-fashioned kind of place, and there are menus for the lunch and evening crowds alike.
Of course the trend has shied away from some of these aspects a bit – general menu restaurants have in many growing cities been supplanted by places that go deeper on one specific kind of dish. But there is something to be said for the kind of comfort food establishments like this one, that you can go to and are certain to find something for people with will different tastes.
Black-Eyed Pea, as a chain, saw some changes that made it harder to operate as such a large enterprise. But it’s nice to see well-run individual locations carry on the flag.
- There’s a cheaper lunch menu if you like the simple dishes.
- The bar is good for families and groups with a lot of different tastes.
- Plenty of healthier options if you don’t want a big plate of expensive food.