Chattanooga is tucked in the shadow of Lookout Mountain. The Tennessee River runs through this city located in southeastern Tennessee. Chattanooga has a vibrancy that has lured me for years. Nestled on the border of Northwest Georgia and Northeast Alabama, the Chattanooga Choo Choo, museums, and southern food have been calling me! This October, on a hosted trip, my husband Keith and I visited and sampled some of the wonderful restaurants, many offering comfort foods that Chattanoogans enjoy every day.
1. Top Of The Rock
It is a winding road to this beautiful place. Beware if you are afraid of heights but know that the mountain views are worth the twisting, turning drive! We were seated near the deck overlooking the amazing valley spread out below! Besides being a restaurant, Top of the Rock is a brewery.
What To Order: Foodwise, Top of the Rock is known for its specialty pizzas, sandwiches, and weekly specials. However, while we were there, they had a special October menu that we decided to split while also leaving room for dessert. We ordered chicken schnitzel from our server Cassie and it came with apple sauerkraut and red cabbage with arugula cherry vinaigrette all topped with a fried egg. Yum! We topped our meal off with a shared cherry cheesecake dessert.
As for the brewery aspect, Keith ordered their seasonal Oktoberfest beer and I tried their lighter, Kolsch, which is their bestselling brew. It is advertised as an “easy drinking light beer that finishes crisp and clean” and that is an accurate assessment! Top of the Rock offers chef-inspired food made from fresh ingredients. We walked around the property and enjoyed the beauty at Top of the Rock!
Pro Tip: When arriving in Chattanooga, play tourist at the famous International Towing Museum. With tow trucks and toy wrecker models, the museum is interesting, especially noting Chattanooga is credited as the birthplace of the tow truck.
2. Calliope Restaurant
This is Proof’s concept restaurant. This new incubator dining stop, Calliope Restaurant, offers food from Chef Khaled Albanna. He brought ideas from his childhood in Amman, Jordan, to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Mixing southern influences cooking with open fire and coals, he brings the Levant culture and traditions to Chattanooga.
What To Order: Known for their amazing Levantine food, we tried some of the favorite dishes on the menu. At Calliope, we shared our meal ordering an appetizer of hummus with pita bread. For our main dish, we chose shish tawook, marinated chicken with grilled onions, green shatta, and toum. We had slow-cooked green beans with garlic, allspice, and citrus for our side. We ended our meal with a decadent chocolate date pudding. I loved the chicken and hummus and Keith was a fan of the green beans. This was a meal that introduced us to a new concept of cooking we had never tried before!
Pro Tip: The beautiful Bluff Art Inn Bed & Breakfast lodging is in the Bluff View Art District. Centrally located, we stayed in the Martin House in the CG Martin Room which sports a fireplace, balcony, and private bathroom. The Bluff View Art District comprises three turn-of-the-century homes on bluffs overlooking the Tennessee River, two restaurants, a coffee shop, and an art gallery.
3. Rembrandt’s Coffee House
We dined at Rembrandt’s two mornings in a row. This wonderful European-style café is part of the Bluff View Art District. Breakfast is part of the stay at the Bluff Art Bed & Breakfast, and the food is wonderful. Each morning I chose tea for my breakfast drink, but Keith enjoyed coffee made by Rembrandt’s Roasting Company.
What To Order: This establishment is known for its artisan bread from the Bluff View Bakery and hand-made pastries. We chose breakfast sandwiches that featured multigrain bagels created in the Bluff View Bakery. We enjoyed a specially arranged tour of the bakery and saw the wonderful work they do onsite! At Rembrandt’s, they offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the Bluff View Art District, they make their bread, pastries, pasta, chocolates, and they grow their herbs.
Pro Tips: Breakfast provided the energy to tour See Rock City! and explore this amazing mountain-top destination. Open year-round at Lover’s Leap, you can view seven states. While on Lookout Mountain, visit the Battles for Chattanooga, and learn about the Civil War history. While there, stop at Rock City’s Fudge Kitchen, which is just inside the gate. Buying a half pound of maple fudge most of it was gone by the time we completed our tour! You can watch as they make the delectable fudge or purchase a slab, eat, and walk!
4. Uncle Larry’s Restaurant
Uncle Larry’s Restaurant has three locations. We stopped at the original location in downtown Chattanooga. They are opening a fourth restaurant that will seat 75 people. Uncle Larry’s has been written up in the New York Times and featured on the Food Network.
What To Order: Famous for their fish, we got a little help with our selections from Terrell Torrence, the son of owner Larry Torrence. We ordered fried tilapia, fried okra, cucumber salad, and turnip greens. The fish was then topped with tartar and the secret Smackem sauce! Usually, I don’t like turnip greens, but we ordered that for Keith, and I admit they were amazing. The fish was light, crispy, and wonderful.
About the owner, Terrence shared that his dad is, “A deacon in the church, a humble guy. Mom is behind the scenes, they have been married a long time and without mom and the Lord, this would not all be possible.”
Pro Tip: Near Uncle Larry’s, tour the Bessie Smith Cultural Center that pays homage to “Empress of the Blues” Bessie Smith and learn about contributions African Americans have made to Chattanooga.
5. Niedlov’s Bakery And Café
Niedlov’s is both a bakery and a café. On their menu, they have a wonderful array of baked items like cinnamon rolls and more for breakfast. For lunch, they feature sandwiches, salads, and soup. They also list a Saturday brunch!
What To Order: Niedlov’s is famous for its bread. Their website has the wording, “Bake bread, avoid plague, and revolt!” We followed that guideline and bought a loaf of whole-grain bread to take home. After trying it once we got home, I can see how it can appease almost anyone. Niedlov’s is next door to Main Street Meats, our Wednesday supper destination, and this family-owned bakery and café supplies their bread.
Pro Tip: The Medal of Honor Heritage Center is a wonderful place to learn the history of the Medal of Honor. The first medal was issued during the Civil War.
6. Main Street Meats
Main Street Meats is a neighborhood restaurant and combination butcher shop that works with local farmers. They serve lunch, dinner, and have a bourbon bar.
What To Order: Our server, Chelsy, recommended the special, which was a pork steak with collard greens, mushrooms, and heritage bean salad. Keith ordered this and loved it. Famous for their burgers, I chose the cheeseburger with mustard, mayo, caramelized onions, and bacon on a wheat bun (made by Niedlov’s). It was amazing! We topped our dinner off with a gooey chocolate brownie and ice cream dessert.
Pro Tip: Walk off dinner with a stroll on the Tennessee River Walk. Take time to walk across the historic Walnut Street wrought iron and steel truss bridge. This beauty spans the Tennessee River and was built between 1889 and 1891. If you’re staying at the Bluff View Art District or dining, be sure to take a tour of the lovely sculpture garden and admire the art and sculptures in the district.
7. Naked River Brewing Company
We were drawn by the beauty of the building to the Naked River Brewing Company. This pub where they serve food and beer is located next to the First Tennessee Pavilion (which is home to the seasonal Chattanooga Market, a local food and art market that runs every Sunday, May-November each year). The Naked River Brewing & Company building is believed to be one of the oldest buildings in Chattanooga. It was built around 1875 by the Wasson Car Works, a company that built railway cars from 1873-1885. Inside you still see the original trolley tracks.
What To Order: Naked River Brewing & Company is famous for its barbecue. They also have a fun Bologna Burger listed. When we were there though, it was appetizer time! We ordered the wonderful pretzel bites which were made by the Bluff View Bakery. They are also known for their pilsner beer which we sampled and enjoyed as well!
8. Lupi’s Pizza Pies
Lupi’s was a delightful Italian pizza stop. We dined at the downtown location. Brightly colored, the décor here is a mecca for the little ones.
What to order: Pizza for sure! Lupi’s is known for offering freshly sourced ingredients from their farm, Turtle Farm. So we had to have a slice of pizza. Keith had sausage and mushrooms while I added green olives and yellow onions to the sausage and mushrooms on mine. Lupi’s was a delightful way to wind up our foodie trip to this amazing city where we tried some of Chattanooga’s best restaurants!
Gate 11 Distillery
Before heading to dinner, we enjoyed exploring the famous Chattanooga Choo Choo complex featuring the historic Terminal Station. The evening was cool and Gate 11 Distillery offered an amazing vodka-spiked hot chocolate! Part of the complex includes the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo Terminal Station. The complex also offers eateries, shopping, and more to enjoy near the station.
Editor’s Note: TravelAwaits‘ readers will save 10% at Gate 11 Distillery when you mention this article!
For those interested in food and farming and sustainability, Crabtree Farms brings urban agriculture to Chattanooga. They are reaching out to the Chattanooga community through a variety of activities and helping them reconnect with the land. Melonie Husk, Executive Director, took us on a tour of this interesting place on the edge of the city. “We are a non-profit urban farm,” Melonie shared.
“We’ve been a non-profit organization for the last 25 years. It was gifted to the city for as long as it remained agricultural.” At first, the farm was organized by a group of young people and started as a flower farm. It has evolved over the years, expanding to today’s movement that includes farmers, restaurants, artisans, gardeners, markets, grocers, and resource organizations.
They say Southerners eat the best and we found that in Chattanooga, it was true! While I didn’t get the chance to visit them, these fine Chattanooga restaurants have also been recommended:
- Community Pie offers Neapolitan pizza
- Urban Stack offers a homemade pickle plate
- Bluegrass Grills offers Southern comfort food
- Easy Bistro embraces shareable plates with a raw bar and seafood
- St. Johns may be the place to go with a beautiful building and fine dining
- Champy’s could be where to go for their famous fried chicken
For more information on traveling to Tennessee, check out these articles: