Chattanooga | An Eating Guide
Scenic City is a name that Chattanooga earned honestly. This southeastern Tennessee city is framed by the Tennessee River and a backdrop of mountains and ridges. Though its history in manufacturing once left it dirty, the current state of the city is worth a trip. Its position at the juncture of three major interstates (I-24, I-59, and I-75) puts it within a two hour drive from Atlanta, Nashville, and Birmingham, making it an easy weekend trip for many Southern city dwellers.
To experience Chattanooga’s revitalization, try eating and drinking your way through the city. Here are some suggestions:
If you like to start your day with coffee, don’t waste your time with uninspired hotel offerings. Chattanooga has a variety of coffee shops that will please even the most discriminating coffee drinkers.
For a leisurely morning, grab the local newspaper and head to Rembrandt’s Coffee House in the Bluff View Art District. Order one of their ethically-sourced coffee blends and the cinnamon scrap bread, then find a table on their outdoor patio. Afterward, take a stroll by the neighboring galleries and shops, and then down to the River Gallery Sculpture Garden overlooking the river.
If an industrial-chic, communal vibe is more your style, Brash Coffee is the place to go. The Warehouse Row shop is convenient to many downtown hotels and has free wifi if you need a workspace outside of your hotel room. They offer expertly-crafted, nuanced roasts that are consciously sourced directly from farmers. Don’t miss the pastries from Revel Pastry Company.
If you’re north of downtown, grab a scientifically-brewed-to-perfection coffee or espresso from Copacetic Coffee. Stay for a locally-sourced breakfast at The Farmer’s Daughter, which adjoins the space.
For the late risers, Velo Coffee‘s Main Street tasting room is a good choice. It opens at 10am Wednesday-Sunday, and has unique offerings like Aeropress-filtered espresso drinks and Cuppings for One, as well as more traditional brews.
A small city in Tennessee might not be where you’d expect to find cold pressed juices and vegan food, but Chattanooga proves you wrong. Find just that at Southern Sqweeze, a cold-pressed juice and raw foods cafe. Both locations–Downtown and North Chattanooga–have quick, healthy options for an on-the-go breakfast, lunch, or snack. You can also stop by The Local Juicery on Main Street for glass-bottled juices, smoothies, and shots of good-for-you tonics. Their knowledgeable staff will not only help choose a juice for whatever ails you, but they can also give other healthy living recommendations (like Yoga Landing for yoga classes).
For a lunch on the other end of the spectrum, head past The Local Juicery to Main Street Meats. This neighborhood butcher shop embraces nose-to-tail or whole animal butchery, utilizing all parts of the animals they receive from local farms. Cases display fresh meat, charcuterie, and cheeses for sale, while the newly-expanded dining room offers meat-centric menus for lunch and dinner. The burger is not to be missed.
After lunch, walk the Walnut Street Bridge–one of the world’s longest pedestrian bridges– across the river for an afternoon treat at Clumpies Ice Cream. Their handcrafted, small batch ice cream flavors range from perennial favorites like cookie dough, to seasonal concoctions like Lucky Charms for St. Patrick’s Day, to more daring combinations like “Firecracker” (Tutti Frutti ice cream topped with Pop Rocks).
If you want to get out for some exercise, take a walk, run, or bike ride down the Tennessee Riverwalk. Soak in the fresh air and picturesque views from this ten mile paved path along the Tennessee River. The adjacent parks have plenty of spots for photo ops, picnics, or pickup football games.
Start your evening off with a whiskey tasting at Chattanooga Whiskey Co. Before they began producing local spirits, the grain-to-glass whiskey company staged a grassroots campaign to repeal a century-old law prohibiting liquor distillation in Chattanooga. Fortunately they were successful, becoming the first legal distillery in downtown Chattanooga since before Prohibition. Take a tour of the micro-distillery (offered daily for $12), and taste history in the making.
Get another glimpse of Chattanooga’s history at Easy Bistro, a restaurant housed in the world’s first Coca-Cola bottling plant. Locally-sourced ingredients give their French bistro fare a fresh, Southern sensibility. The raw bar is a highlight, as are the inventive cocktails.
Set an early reservation at Alleia to snag a coveted spot on their covered patio. The rustic Italian menu is constantly evolving thanks to seasonal ingredients from local farms. Brick oven pizzas and house made pastas are testaments to their Italian inspiration, and the flourless chocolate cake is worth the trip alone.
For a laid-back evening, try the recently-opened Two Ten Jack in Warehouse Row. They serve locally-sourced, Japanese-inspired comfort food dishes alongside an array of bar offerings, including Japanese sakes, whiskeys, beers, and craft cocktails on tap. Order and share a variety of sashimi, maki, and yakitori dishes for a broad taste of what they have to offer, and then end with the ramen. If you’ve never had ramen that doesn’t involve plastic packaging and a microwave, you’re in for a treat!
Chattanooga is a city that could’ve fallen by the wayside when manufacturing declined a few decades ago. Instead, it’s reinventing itself without forgetting its history.