Breakfast: Niedlov's Breadworks
Niedlov’s Breadworks is a local artisan bakery on Chattanooga's Southside. Since 2002, Niedlov’s has been providing specialty breads made with organic whole grains and natural leavening to the Scenic City. If you're eating at other local restaurants, you'll likely find Niedlov's bread somewhere on the menu. While bread is their specialty, Niedlov's is also a great spot for ham and cheese croissants, avocado toast, or sweet potato pancakes. Grab a cup of locally roasted Velo coffee on your way out and get ready for a day of fun.
Activity: After the day’s most important meal, peruse the art galleries and shops of Main Street, such as H*ART Gallery, Gallery 1401, Merchants on Main, and more. Once you’re appropriately inspired, head downtown to Ignis Glass Studio to create some artwork of your own. For around $40 you can actually blow your own heirloom glass ornament or paperweight. After that, you’ll want to catch lunch at the city’s most forward-thinking pizza joint.
Lunch: Lupi’s Pizza Pies
Dorris Shober opened Lupi’s Pizza in 1996 as Chattanooga’s first New York-style pizzeria. With no business or restaurant experience she created each recipe from scratch, using her home as a test kitchen and her kids as a focus group. The experiment worked and today there are five locations that are chock-full of hungry customers. But what makes Lupi’s a true foodie spot is their passion for local ingredients, from the ground beef and tomatoes (when available) to the honey and whole wheat in the dough. You have to try a slice as well as the house-made fresh mozzarella.
Activity: You can’t visit Chattanooga without seeing the Tennessee Aquarium, and lucky for you it’s just a short walk from Lupi’s. After you’ve experienced macaroni penguins, giant sturgeon, and leaping lemurs, consider a trip to Chattanooga’s premiere art museum, the Hunter Museum of American Art, followed by an art walk. After all, you need to burn some calories for your next meal, which will bring you back to Chattanooga’s Southside.
If you eat dinner at only one place, consider Alleia. You'll find rustic Italian cuisine with an emphasis on local ingredients. After training at some of New York’s top restaurants (including Gramercy Tavern), Nathan Lindley moved back to his hometown in early 2000 for what he thought was a short stint. Lucky for us, he stayed, turning Alleia into a top dining destination for the region.
Dessert: Clumpies Ice Cream Co.
If you managed to save room for dessert, pop over to Clumpies Ice Cream Co. on the Southside. This locally-owned scoop shop is serving up the best handcrafted, small-batch ice cream around. Enjoy classic flavors like Coconut Almond Chunk, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, and Cookies N' Cream. If you time your visit just right, you'll find a variety of seasonal flavors that rotate throughout the year. The seasonal menu is always changing, but favorites like Lemon Ice Box, Peppermint Patty, and Campfire have been seen on the menu year after year. With four locations in the Chattanooga area, you're never too far from a sweet treat.
Activity: Finish the evening with a stroll down through the Chattanooga Choo Choo gardens or see what's happening on Station Street.
Activity: Burn some calories by starting the day paddleboarding on the Tennessee River. (Grab a light breakfast or skip it for brunch later on.) L2 Outside on the Northshore rents stand-up paddleboards as well as kayaks. You can take a lesson for $60 or take to the water alone for $25 for one hour.
Now that you’ve worked up an ample appetite it’s time to chow down at one of the city’s most popular brunch spots. Although FoodWorks offers their brunch menu on both Saturdays and Sundays to meet demand, most weekends this knitting-mill-turned-restaurant is packed to the gills. If you can’t score a reservation, take heart. They reserve almost half their seating for walk-ins (just be prepared to wait). Be sure to try their chicken and waffles or the doughnut, bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. They also offer $1 mimosas and champagne or $3.50 Bloody Marys.
Activity: While you’re in the neighborhood, check out the surrounding shops. Upscale clothing, home, and shoe shops are a short walk away at Two Northshore and several art galleries and boutiques line Frazier Avenue. If shopping isn’t your thing, check out one of Chattanooga’s unique city tours or explore the town with the Chattanooga Ducks.
Dinner: Jack Brown's Beer and Burger Joint
Jack Brown's has a simple menu and their specialty is burgers. Kick back with a choice from their selection of craft beers and enjoy one of their unique burger selections. Try a simple cheeseburger with 100% Wagyu beef topped with American cheese or sample a Jack on Piggyback. This interesting combination is a burger topped with a split and griddled hot dog with pickled jalapenos and cheddar cheese.
Breakfast: Milk & Honey
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and a visit to Milk & Honey will definitely get your day started on the right foot. This Monen Family Restaurant is a hot spot on the Northshore and a must-visit. The breakfast menu features sourdough french toast, sausage and pepper hash, and a variety of grab-n-go pastries like croissants and scones. If you can't make it for breakfast, swing back by for lunch, dinner, or a scoop (or three) of housemade gelato.
Activity: Walk off your food coma by walking along the Riverfront. Nearby Renaissance Park features outdoor art, historic markers and a somewhat out-of-place green hill that people slide down on cardboard in warmer months. Coolidge Park offers a 100-year-old carousel, a water splash park, and beautiful views of the Tennessee River. Walk across the Walnut Street Bridge for one of Chattanooga’s best views.
Lunch: The Chattanooga Market (open April-November)
On Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Chattanooga Market pulls double-duty as both entertainment and lunch. When you witness its bazaar-like atmosphere you’ll understand why Frommer’s rated the market as one of the top 10 in the country. In front, local farmers set up shop to offer the very freshest from their fields. Go a little further and you’ll find glass blowers, photographers, wood workers, furniture makers, jewelry artists, soap makers, artisan food producers and more selling their wares. Every single vendor must be from within a 100-mile radius and selling only handmade goods (so no cheesy, mass-produced stuff). In the very back, Chattanooga food trucks pull up to serve some of the city’s best street food, which you can enjoy at the metal tables in front of the live band (if you can find a seat). It can get crowded, but it's worth every second.
Dinner: Easy Bistro
Chef/owner Erik Niel melds the best of his home state (Louisiana) with the bounty of local farmers in his French Bistro-style restaurant. The sophisticated black-and-white ambiance at Easy Bistro is balanced with unpretentiously delicious food, from authentic Raw Bar oysters to hearty Steak Frites. Regardless of your dinner decision, make sure you sample one of the restaurant’s craft cocktails, which feature house-made seasonal liquor infusions.
Thinking Outside the Restaurant: If you have time, round out your food-centric trip with an out-of-the-box experience.
Farmer’s Markets - If you rent a house you can prepare your own dinner with local produce by visiting one of Chattanooga’s many farmer’s markets happening throughout the week and weekend.