Sometimes eating in a new city is about convenience, right? You walk out of the hotel and head to the nearest restaurant you can find. Burgers, fries and you’re done. But there are other travelers — the gastro aficionados — who seek something more; something a tad more local, unique and special. This list is for those brave souls whose willingness to stray from the given path will result in a smorgasbord of culinary delights that only Chattanooga can provide.
Here are some of the best “hidden” restaurants in Chattanooga. They’re all gems. Venture off the beaten path. You’ll be glad you did!
1. Lookout Winery — 11848 US-41, Guild, NT 37340
Stunning views, wood-fired pizza cooked in an authentic brick oven, and delicious local wines are the hallmarks of the Look Out Winery, just a quick 25-minute drive from the Scenic City. Built into the side of Aetna Mountain, each table offers amazing views of the winding Tennessee River. As “romantic” as it sounds, the food is geared toward the simple with authentic Neapolitan-style pizzas made with imported flour from Tuscany. Try one of their signature gourmet pizzas or build your own pizza feast.
2. River Street Deli — 151 River St.
Tucked below one of Chattanooga’s busiest shopping areas — Frazier Avenue in North Chattanooga — River Street Deli has been offering the New York-style delicatessen experience in Chattanooga since 1998. Locals flock to the restaurant for the daily specials and delicious salad plates, but they come back for owner Bruce Weiss and his inimitable personality. You’ll find tons of sandwich selections in addition to the expected pastrami, corned beef, and Reubens. Choose from your favorite breads to pair with choices like a traditional roast beef or something a little more exotic like the New Orleans-style Muffuletta. Or, simply, let Bruce tell you what to order. That’s what the locals do.
3. Opa — 249 River St.
The best Greek food in Chattanooga is in a tiny white building off Frazier Avenue near Coolidge Park. You’ll feel like you’ve entered a completely different world — namely, Santorini — where every surface is sun-kissed and the authentic Greek food transports you to the realization of your own fantasy island. You’ll find Souvlaki pitas, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) and the best tomatoes this side of the Atlantic. Don’t you dare skimp on dessert — save room for one of chef Michael Borodimos’ signature baklavas. And the aesthetics of Opa are so Instagram worthy.
4. Chatter Box — 6801 Shallowford Rd.
There’s no need to drive to Texas to get amazing barbecue. Trust us, one bite of chef Brandon Ellis’ smoked meats and you’ll be kicking Texas-style to the curb for good. Pulled pork, smoked wings, hot dogs, ribs and brisket are the signatures, but our advice is to eat whatever he’s cooking up on the day you arrive. The new location on Shallowford Road is just a quick 10-minute drive from downtown and features a covered patio where intoxicating whiffs come right off the smoker. Chatter Box is worth the trip.
It’s been a great weekend already if it don’t get no better!! We were slammed yesterday and were wiped clean out. We’re getting reloaded and will have plenty for you guys. We ask that you give us a lil more time to get ready for you today. We will be opening at 1230 today however feel free to call your orders in and we’ll have them ready as soon as we open! 4233224609!!!!
5. Boccaccia Ristorante Italiano — 3077 S. Broad St.
In the mood for some Italian that’s a bit more hidden and special? Try Boccaccia. Located on South Broad Street on the basement level of the Southern Saddlery Building, Boccaccia is one of the best least-talked-about restaurants in Chattanooga. Step inside and you’ll enjoy the rustic charm, high-quality Italian cuisine and professional service that rivals the fanciest of local eateries. If you’re looking for the perfect special date night, this is it.
6. Pickle Barrel — 1012 Market St.
The word “institution” gets thrown around a lot to describe well-established restaurants, but in the case of Pickle Barrel it applies. Located in the former Park Plaza hotel building, this iconic Flat-iron style has stood since 1893. Locals have chosen Pickle Barrel as their watering hole for years and for good reason: the food is inexpensive, delicious, and the drinks are plentiful. If you asked a local where they go to get “that local experience,” you’ll hear them say “Pickle Barrel” more often than not. It’s a true watering hole and dive bar in the best sense. And, of course, the fried pickles are hard to beat.
Hey guys, as you all may know, Mayor Berke gave the order for mandatory closures of bars and restaurants due to rising health and safety concerns of COVID-19. Please check back for updates or connect with us ‘just because’ as we move forward together through this crazy and difficult time. We love you. We’ll be back. Wash your damn hands.
7. Taqueria Jalisco - Ania — 1639 Rossville Ave.
Just off Main Street in Chattanooga, Taqueria Jalisco’s Ania restaurant is a true hidden gem. Owners opened a small food truck in 2015 and were so successful that they built a brand-new restaurant directly across the street. This is more than just good Mexican food; it’s the culmination of Jorge and Maria Parra’s vision from the ground up. Expect delicately prepared enchiladas, tortas, fajitas and their signature tacos — in addition to one of the largest selections of tequila and cocktails in the city.