Chattanooga at night
There’s all sorts of great eating and dining one can do in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and with all due respect to The Krystal Company (founded and headquartered in Chattanooga), it goes far beyond those tasty little square burgers.
Use our handy city guide below to keep you well-fed and entertained during your next visit.
Why we love it
Chattanooga has been in the headlines a lot lately. The “Scenic City” was named as one of the best destinations you need to see in 2018 by Lonely Planet and made The New York Times list of “52 Places to Travel in 2018.” Over the past decade, Chattanooga has seen business boom, with more and more tourists coming to the beautiful Southern city.
Another perk of living in Chattanooga — high-speed internet service. Chattanooga is home to the nation’s highest internet speed. While this may seem like an insignificant fact to most people, once you experience it you’ll wonder how you lived without it. In her profile of the city, NYT’s Jada Yuan explains the life-changing speed: “In 40 minutes, I uploaded 1,000 photos that had been stuck in my queue for days.”
Along with high-speed internet and a beautiful setting with views of mountains and a river, Chattanooga’s dining scene has undergone a transformation in the past 20 years. More recently, chefs are flocking to the city to learn from some of the South’s best chefs.
Where to eat
Chef Patrick Halloran goes through a lot of eggs at Hummingbird Pastaria. The rustic Italian restaurant makes its own pasta from scratch every morning. Most days, Halloran and his team roll out eight different kinds of pasta including gnocchi, lasagna sheets, pappardelle, tagliatelle, linguine, tortellini and ravioli. “[We] go through on average 115 to 120 a day just to make pasta dough,” Halloran said. At Hummingbird Pastaria, he uses as much of the animal as possible in dishes made from Southern ingredients like Anson Mills polenta and farro and Benton’s bacon, at relatively affordable prices. The hanger steak, at $24, is one of the most expensive items on the menu, and all specials range between $12- $15.
Feed Co. Table and Tavern
Chef Charlie Loomis doesn’t hold back when it comes to creating new dishes and incorporating local ingredients into the menu at Feed Co. Table and Tavern. Though the menu at Feed Co. is solid and doesn’t change that often, Loomis works these new ingredients to different specials. The restaurant recently started working with a beef farm in Alabama that supplies them with 100 percent grass fed wagyu beef. You won’t find products like that on many menus in Chattanooga.
Easy Bistro & Bar is an American/French/Southern bistro open since 2005. The menu is heavily focused on seafood and draws from Niel’s Louisiana roots. On the menu, you’ll find everything from grilled oysters to shrimp and grits. It is run by Chef Erik Niel, who was born in Texas and grew up on the Gulf in Louisiana, and was nominated for Best Chef Southeast James Beard Award last year. Niel also owns and operates Main Street Meats, a fully functioning neighborhood butcher shop that deals with whole cows and pigs every day.
Bald Headed Bistro
At Bald Headed Bistro, Chef Eric Fulkerson puts his own touch on a menu of specialty dishes he developed working around the South in country clubs, restaurants, corporate settings and specialty events like the Charleston Food and Wine Festival. His Big Green Egg-smoked Springer Mountain chicken wings, which are pre-soaked overnight in Blackberry Farm’s brown ale before cooking, are topped with a red chili miso sauce, cilantro and toasted sesame.
Where to stay
There are plenty of chain hotels in and around Chattanooga, but if you want a different hotel experience, make reservations at The Dwell Hotel, which has been a part of Chattanooga for over a century. The name and decor has changed, but its historical charm and spirit have remained. The Chattanoogan is a luxury downtown hotel that is perfect for a weekend getaway, business trip or even a beautiful wedding venue. Its close proximity to downtown Chattanooga allows guests to easily access all of the city’s restaurants, shops and the Tennessee Aquarium on foot.
The Chattanooga Choo Choo Historic Hotel is housed in the Terminal Station, which was a functioning train station until 1973. Before the city could demolish the out-of-commission building, a group decided to save the space and turn it into a space to welcome those visiting the city. In 2014, the entire property was redeveloped to become a hotel and music venue, as well as a place for new restaurants. For a more historic experience, guests can choose to stay in a renovated train car, The Pullman, which provides all the amenities of a hotel room.
Where to play and what the locals say
The city has gorgeous views of the Tennessee River and mountains. “It’s one of the prettiest places I’ve ever lived and I’ve lived in some fun places,” Chef Patrick Halloran said. Outdoor sports, like whitewater rafting and kayaking, are popular among tourists and locals. If you’re not a fan of water sports, the surrounding area offers many outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking and rock climbing.
Over the past five years, breweries have popped up across the city allowing plenty of chances to enjoy a pint or two when you’re walking around town.
Located right on the riverfront is the state’s largest aquarium, The Tennessee Aquarium. You’ll find both land and water animals throughout the aquarium’s various exhibits. A visit to the aquarium is a great option if you happen to have a rainy day during your visit to Chattanooga.