One couldn’t talk about cuisine in Chattanooga without first mentioning the MoonPie, “a graham-like cracker, marshmallow covered with chocolate, vanilla, orange, strawberry or banana flavors,” the south’s favorite snack food, according it’s originator, the Chattanooga Bakery that created it in 1917.
Besides the famous MoonPie, Chattanooga offers a wealth of gastronomic pleasures from local mom ‘n pop joints to European-styled bistros, family restaurants, upscale beer and wine boutiques, coffee clatches, patisseries, casual outdoor spots, fine dining, and more, covering the culinary palate. There are so many wonderful places I hate to leave any out, but here are a few that I enjoyed immensely during my visit:
The Back Inn Café serves what they call “upscale global cuisine” set in a warm and romantic ambiance within a renovated Colonial Revival mansion. The café is one of three popular eateries (including Tony’s Pasta Shop & Trattoria and Rembrandt’s Coffee House in the beautiful Bluff View Art District overlooking the Tennessee River.
For outstandingGreek cuisine served with southern flair and great emphasis on sustainable seafood and local farming, dine at Niko’s Southside Grill. Be sure to try the shrimp and roasted garlic polenta (yikes!).
We got down on some of the best barbecue in the country at Sugar’s Ribs (there two locations in town), voted “best of” numerous times for their slow-smoked meats and poultry. An honorable mention goes to the red (beef) and white (chicken) chilis and banana pudding.
Niedlov’s Breadworks combines artistry and craftsmanship in their hand-kneaded, naturally leavened breads, rolls, cinnamon buns, croissants, and more. In fact, their products are so good that many of the restaurants in town use their breads for their menu items. The store also offers fresh sandwiches, coffees, and teas, in a warm, inviting, neighborhood environment.
Right next door, although not a restaurant, is a worthy stop – Link 41. The business creates tantalizing hand crafted sausages using all natural ingredients and curing processes. The business is just getting started so offerings may vary, however there’s no doubt that it will become an area favorite with offerings like their mole sausage in lamb casing, English smoked sausage, and “baconage” sausage.
Down-home, diner fare is the focus at The Blue Plate, a chic, almost SoHo feeling architecture but with a definite laid-back southern vibe. Menu items include fried green tomatoes, a buttermilk chicken tender plate, grilled salmon salad, grilled portobello burger, pancake plate, meatloaf sandwich, and other diner favorites.
Beer takes on a whole new meaning at The Terminal BrewHouse. Brews here go through a special fermenting process resulting in tasty varieties such as their India Pale Ale, American Copper Ale, Maibock, and Oatmeal Stout, among others. Sit out in the Biergarten and have them pair your brew with any of their wonderful menu items—salmon cakes, bison sliders, steak and chicken sandwiches, and my favorite, the “Plate of Wonder”(threeseasonal cheeses and three draught beer samples)—just to name a few.