Chattanooga ranks among the best 100 places to live in America according to a study, and the home of the infamous Chattanooga Choo Choo has even topped the New York Times “best of” list. The city has experienced a real boom over the last few years, in part due to its offering of outdoor adventure, low cost/high quality of living, and the fastest internet in the country (for which it earned the nickname “Gig City”). However, I think one of the best reasons to visit Chattanooga is the FOOD!
With the varied culinary options from downhome cooking to fine dining and everything in between, Chattanooga even gives nearby southern metropolitan cities such as Atlanta and Nashville a run for their money. The majority of the top eateries are in the downtown, Northshore, and Southside neighborhoods. If you are a foodie visiting the Scenic City, you can experience the best of the city’s cuisine by booking a Chatt Taste Food Tour. If you prefer to venture out on your own, here is a list of some of the best restaurants in the city (in no particular order).
Feed Co. Table & Tavern
Feed Co. is a locally owned neighborhood restaurant in the Southside offering seasonal farm fresh cuisine with a twist for a guaranteed pleasurable dining experience. You can always count on a lively environment here whether it’s from the live music, trivia night, bingo, or the game room for all ages. They proudly partner with area farmers, from the 100% wagyu beef to the free-range chicken and locally sourced vegetables.
The mouthwatering Short Rib Pot Roast with buttermilk whipped potatoes, whiskey glazed carrots, smoked bordelaise, and tobacco onions is to die for (add a side of Brussels sprouts to make it even better). The Fish & Chips and the Fried Brussels Sprouts Salad are also delicious options, but you really can’t go wrong with anything here. The heated, covered patio is a great spot to enjoy the sunset. Feed Co. is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner.
Located inside the Edwin Hotel next to Chattanooga’s historic Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge, Whitebird is the perfect place to take in views of the Tennessee River from their elegant dining room setting that manages to not be overly fussy. They strive to honor the history of familiar cooking methods of the region while incorporating a modern interpretation, including local ingredients at the peak of their freshness. The Shaved Asparagus & Bibb Salad, freshly prepared with buttermilk dressing, pickled asparagus tips, red onion, sourdough croutons, orange, smoked carrots, and a touch of honey is as appealing to the eye as it is to the tastebuds. For brunch, try the Eggs Benedict, the Omelet (my personal favorite), or the Smoked Brisket along with a Mimosa or a Passion on a Plane cocktail.
Dine in the light and airy indoor space or on the outdoor terrace. Either way, you will be pleased with the staff’s focus on true Southern hospitality. Whitebird is open daily for breakfast, Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner, and weekend brunch.
Southern Squeeze’s claim to fame is a superior vegan, organic, café, juice, and food experience. It originally opened in North Chattanooga as a juice bar until the owners later expanding the menu to include salads, breakfast bowls, a coffee bar, baked goods, and smoothies. In addition to their usual fare, they offer seasonal menu items (think Apple Butter Latte, Pumpkin Waffle, and Autumnal Oatmeal with turmeric, pumpkin seeds, and chia).
Popular food options such as the Greek Salad, the Pesto Toastie, and the Poke Bowl provide balanced and nutritious fuel for a day of exploring the Scenic City without the post lunchtime crash that can come after eating a heavy meal. The Works Waffles would make for a great start to your day. Or try a Wellness Latte such as the Lavender Matcha, or a Southern Belle Smoothie. Open 7 days a week, they serve breakfast and brunch on weekends and breakfast, lunch, and dinner on weekdays. They also offer a great outdoor patio area in addition to indoor dining.
For a romantic dinner, you can’t beat the ambiance at Alleia in the Southside. They feature Italian cuisine handcrafted with a combination of imported ingredients from Italy and quality produce from local farms. They utilize a custom brick oven for pizza making and use seven types of house made pasta.
You can choose between the stunningly beautiful dining room trimmed in 300-year-old wood, or the charming outdoor porch with a cozy al fresco feel and fragrant climbing jasmine. For a meal you won’t forget, start with the hand dipped ricotta bruschetta with truffle honey, followed by the short rib entrée, and tiramisu for dessert. If you are looking for something simpler, the woodfired pizzas are also delicious. Open Monday through Saturday for dinner. Tip: I highly recommend you make a reservation in advance because Alleia is quite popular and tends to book up.
State of Confusion
Wood fire grills, ceviche, and mojitos, oh my!! It’s hard for me to even narrow down my favorites here but for appetizers it would be the Peruvian Lettuce Wraps and the Aji Chicken Eggrolls. For dinner try the Skirt Steak Chimi (sliced skirt steak with delicious chimichurri sauce made on an authentic parrilla grill). The Peruvian Ceviche Bowl is also a must. For something unique try the Fried Bologna Sandwich (this ain’t your mama’s bologna sandwich you grew up eating but something altogether different and delicious)!
The other reason to try State of Confusion….the drinks, of course! They expel fresh sugar cane juice right from the stalk every morning, resulting in the most authentic and flavorful mojito in town. Other cocktail options to try are the draft margarita (made with Corazon Blanco Tequila, fresh lime, and Gran Gala that’s infused with nitrogen to give it more flavor and texture) or the made-from-scratch bloody mary. They have one of the largest and best outdoor patio seating areas in Chattanooga, perfect for an evening out or a weekend brunch. Located on Main Street, they are open 7 days a week. And don’t miss one of the best happy hour specials in town on weekdays from 4:00 to 6:00 with $5 mojitos/draft margaritas/Moscow mules, $3.50 draft beers, and $2 glasses of house wines.
Public House has been a local favorite in downtown Chattanooga since it opened in 2009. Located in Warehouse Row, it’s where downhome roots and fine dining meet in the middle with a focus on local and seasonal fare and impeccable service. Simply put, Public House feels like coming home. Top “snacks” include the pecan smoked trout dip and the candied bacon deviled eggs. For entrees, try the cobb salad, the pot roast, or the sweet tea brined fried chicken. Before or after, be sure to pop next door to adjoining bar, The Social, for a drink. Public House is open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner.
Hands down, I personally vote for Tremont Tavern as the best burger in Chattanooga. Originally known as a hole-in-the-wall local watering hole, this establishment has doubled in size since opening back in 2006 and is now known for their award-winning craft burgers and their draft beer selection. My top vote goes to the Gouda Burger, with the Tremont Burger coming in at a close second. If spice is your thing, try the Jalapeno Jack Burger. If burgers are not your thing (what??), you can’t go wrong with the made-from-scratch chicken fingers or the Reuben sandwich. Located in North Shore, Tremont Tavern is open 7 days a week. You can also catch great happy hour food and drink specials Monday through Friday from 3:00 to 6:00.
Bleu Fox Cheese Shop
I only recently discovered Bleu Fox Cheese Shop on Main Street, and now I realize just what I had been missing. While this is a family-owned artisan cheese and specialty food shop, they also serve delicious sandwiches, grilled cheeses, and salads. Try the burrata salad and the pimento grilled cheese and I promise you will not be disappointed! You will think you’ve been transported to Italy when you bite into the burrata salad. Or try the poutine, a delicious dish with fries and cheese curds smothered in warm gravy. After your meal, be sure to browse the shop for a great selection of cheeses, wines, beers, and other food items to create the perfect charcuterie. Bleu Fox Cheese Shop is open 7 days a week.
Lupi’s Pizza Pies
Lupi’s, which celebrated 25 years in business this year, is a locally owned funky little joint where your pizza will begin with freshly made dough and sauces made in-house daily. They use local ingredients whenever possible, from whole wheat flour to tomatoes, ground sausage, and honey, all harvested within 100 miles of where the pizzas are baked. Beer lovers won’t be disappointed by their large beer selection either. While I love their pizza, calzones, and lasagna, their garden salad with house vinaigrette dressing and homemade croutons is my personal fave! Some of the same employees are still there today as when I started having lunch there over 20 years ago – I think that speaks volumes about what kind of establishment it is! In addition to their flagship downtown location, they now have other locations scattered around the Chattanooga area. Lupi’s is open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner.
A family-owned restaurant known for their made-from-scratch dishes, Bluegrass Grill is another Main Street gem. They bake their own bread daily and boast a menu with something for everyone, from traditional Southern fare to gluten free and vegan options. They are open Tuesday through Saturday for breakfast and lunch. Note: my personal favorite is the pancakes (sorry, no photo because I gobbled them down too fast)!
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