"We're going to the barroom," said the female of the couple that just finished eating dinner while I was just beginning mine at Tessie's Place. She laughed about that, and the waitress laughed back. As if they were doing something naughty. People of a certain age always laugh when they talk about having a drink.
Tessie's walls are nearly 100 percent covered with fake walnut paneling--the restaurant interior decoration rage of the 1960s. All the other furnishings fit in perfectly with the wall covering. So does the menu. It's far longer than you find these days, with almost everything you can imagine such a restaurant's serving. It's a long time since I saw a menu with a dozen salads (including one of the last still called a "wop salad"), ten soups, and four kinds of beans-and-rice.
A throwback to the neighborhood restaurants of at least fifty years ago, Tessie's serves all the local favorites from a menu so extensive it's almost laughable. You can get not just red beans any day but white beans, butterbeans, or blackeye peas. Those are all good, but the best shot is the fried chicken, followed closely by the roast beef poor boy. Enormous portions are also part of the authenticity.
Tessie's is the reincarnation of a 1940s Jefferson Highway roadhouse called the Club 90, which had a long-standing record of good poor boys and fried chicken when it closed in the 1970s. The standards of that era are all still in place. This has downsides (a lack of vivid freshness) as well as upsides (some great lost flavors are here).
Well hidden on a side street off Airline Highway (Woodlawn is a block city side of Clearview), Tessie's dining room looks like any of a hundred restaurants I recall from the 1960s. Most of those are either gone or renovated. Tessie's remains--without irony or self-consciousness--a time machine to that era. Even the music could have been heard in the 1950s.
Wait as long as you need to for the fried chicken. Get (and split) a side order of beans with that.