Packed with dining options, boasting a revitalized Downtown and great for a weekend getaway, Chattanooga, TN, is just slightly more than 100 miles north of Atlanta, Ga. (ATL traffic what it is, that means it's as close as an hour and a half by car, or as far as almost three hours if leaving right after work.) But there's more to the city's culinary landscape than just the birthplace of MoonPies.
More than most towns around, Chattanooga is embracing its local food resources. Surrounded by Tennessee and Georgia farms, the city's restaurants heavily promote on signs, walls and menus the purveyors they source from — even to a degree that beats out Atlanta, where many chefs are passionate about the same but where that education doesn't trickle down to the diner. Here's where to eat on your next visit.
Is there anything fancy about this East Chattanooga restaurant? There is not. Is there anything delicious about it? Oh, so much. Specializing in pork cooked in the Michoacan style — all crisp and roasty and salty after being cooked in lard — this roadside Mexican spot serves up the city's tastiest tacos and tortas. Insider Tip: Be daring! Order the goat, the tongue, the tripe.
This modest-in-size new Greek eatery, located in a cute converted North Shore cottage, sends out some of the city's best Mediterranean food. Lamb gyros and the veggie plate loaded with hummus are both reliable, while the flaky baklava's a perfect sweet to wrap the meal. Insider Tip: Grab your food to go if it's a nice day — the restaurant's on the edge of the riverfront park.
Beast & Barrel
Recently opened in the North Shore neighborhood across the river from Downtown, this good-spirited gastropub specializes in smoked food, meat and, uh, more meat. Check out the house-smoked pastrami and the duck burger. B&B also turns out a great weekend brunch. Insider Tip: Stop in for happy hour between 3-6 PM, when select food, beer and cocktails are at seriously reduced prices, and there's free popcorn aplenty for bar patrons.
Maple Street Biscuit Company
This is the first non-Florida location for Maple Street, a collection of Jacksonville restaurants. Located in the heart of Chattanooga's tourist district, it makes for a great place to pop in for a filling, flavorful Southern snack and escape the people wandering around with maps. (Admittedly, maybe you're one of them.) Order up a Reinhold biscuit (fried chicken breast, dill pickles, housemade honey mustard sauce) or go the sweet/savory route with the Farmer (fried chicken, pecan-smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and housemade apple butter). Insider Tip: Like the biscuits, but leaving soon? The staff swears the biscuits freeze well, so buy a boxful on your way out.
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Published by Zagat on April, 20, 2015: Written by Christopher Hassiotis