Many may consider Chinese takeout to be a way of life, especially in our world of busy schedules and no time to cook dinner on our own. If you’re part of this club, then chances are you’ve got your one favorite Chinese restaurant in mind. For many Tuscaloosa folks, Swen Chinese Restaurant in Northport has been satisfying those cravings. Whether it’s takeout, dining in before a high school football game, or eating Sunday lunch after church, Swen has been serving up Chinese favorites to Tuscaloosa locals and visitors since the 1990’s.
My husband and I decided to mix up our usual Thursday night routine by dining out at Swen. With my hubby being a Tuscaloosa native, it only took a split second for him to suggest our dinner location after sharing my craving for Chinese food. Dimly lit and located in an older strip of stores in Northport, my expectations were high upon arriving inside the old restaurant. I quickly noticed the quaint size of the eatery as well as the simplicity of the décor. Donned in primarily black and red, the restaurant provided a low key and calming atmosphere, avoiding any loud television noises, music, or clamor from the kitchen.
We were immediately greeted by our server who was quick to let us know how busy she was. Perusing the menu, I knew I wanted something spicy to satisfy my cravings. I eventually opted for Hunan chicken with fried rice and egg drop soup while my husband went with his standard Kung Pao chicken selection. Waiting on our order, I noticed the significant number of folks revolving through the restaurant to pick up their takeout orders. In the midst of all the takeout madness, large groups of folks dressed in various high school spirit colors took over the restaurant to dine in. With many of the tables ready to order once they sat down, I got the impression this was not their first rodeo at Swen.
We seemed to get our order in record timing with a piping hot dish of chicken, jalapenos, onions, and water chestnuts with a nice side of fried rice. Though my husband’s Kung Pao chicken looked quite similar in color and ingredients, I was impressed with the flavor differences between the two dishes. The mix of good flavors, textures, and food temperatures had my mouth in heaven bite by bite.
Overall, I enjoyed my dinner visit to Swen. The flavor difference from having a dish made to order was quite obvious when comparing our dishes to my normal routine of a Chinese buffet. The atmosphere of Swen was cozy, comforting, and a clear favorite for Tuscaloosa locals. The impressive amount of both takeout and dine in business is a great convincer to have me come back for more.
Swen Chinese Restaurant is located 3380 McFarland Boulevard in Northport. Tweet us @ThePlanetWeekly and let us know where you are eating!

Sheena Gregg, MS, RDN,LD is a registered dietitian and local “Filipino foodie.” Follow her on Twitter @AFilipinoFoodie

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