Miss Mary Bobo's Boarding House is just down the street from the Jack Daniels Distillery, and since it's still in Moore County, you won't get a stiff drink from her kitchen, but you will get apples candied in good old JD & your dessert will likely have whipped cream with Tennessee whiskey whisked in for added flavor.
In 1908, Miss Mary Bobo and her husband purchased the boarding house and
opened their doors to teachers, bachelors, miners, and traveling salesmen
passing through Lynchburg. She ran the house until just before her death in the
early 1980s, at the ripe age of 101. The boarding house is no longer a place to
lay your head, as all of the rooms have been converted to dining rooms, in
order to accommodate the large crowds that fill the house every day at 11 am
and 1 pm.
The restaurant is family-style, Southern hospitality at its finest. You will be given a dining room assignment, and unless your party is very large, you'll be seated with strangers at a table, along with a hostess who will sit with you, facilitate the conversation, and make sure the dishes are passed to the left. We sat with a man originally from Tennessee, and his daughter's family--an Englishman from York and their three children with English accents and a love for Southern cooking.
It is the best meal I have ever had, and if you know the food I cook and the restaurants I frequent, you will know I do not make this statement lightly. The menu changes daily, but you are guaranteed sweet tea and the famous Jack Daniels apples. If you're lucky, there will be fried okra, with the most perfect cornmeal crust in the world. The hostess told us the secret is in leaving the okra to set after breading it, because if you stick it in the oil right after dipping it in the cornmeal, the crust will fall clean off and you'll be left with soggy okra. Not at Miss Mary Bobo's.
We were there on fried chicken day, and though I have an aversion to picking meat off bones, I can assure you there was none left on my chicken bone--and most of the skin was gone too. This is more than a miracle.
The meal finished with buttermilk pie, and the young English boy who refused it at first, but was finally coaxed into taking a bite, offered to take home sixteen of them himself.When I asked how he intended to find the $160 to do so, he assured me he'd find a way. I am sure he would.