City Portrait

Chattanooga: Where to Eat

Exploring the scene in the Scenic City

photo: Pancakes at Aretha Frankensteins. Photo by Tara Donne


Aretha Frankensteins
The service may be brusque and there’s almost always a wait, but this quirky breakfast hole-in-the-wall north of downtown is worth the effort. Sure, they do eggs, but save room for the gigantic one-inch-thick golden patties that put the “cake” in “pancake.” They’re light as air, and adding some fresh blueberries makes them phenomenal. 518 Tremont St.; arethas.com


Easy Bistro & Bar 

The area surrounding the Tennessee Aquarium is chockablock with touristy joints, but locals head to the French-meets-Southern Easy Bistro, just one block from the sharks. The shrimp and grits are every bit as good as the delectable roast chicken “Grand-Mere.” There’s an awesome raw bar to boot.
203 Broad St.; easybistro.com


Champy’s Famous Fried Chicken
Its motto is “Blues, Brews, and Birds,” though the waitresses wear tight T-shirts that read, “Forties and Fowl.” But never mind the silly slogans, it’s the fried chicken that counts. Hand breaded, with just enough grease and a hint of peppery hotness, it’s fried gold. 526 East M. L. King Blvd.; champyschicken.com

photo: Tara Donne

Champy’s fried chicken and sides.


Petunia’s Silver Jalapeno
Even before the nationwide food-truck craze, Chattanooga natives Laura Powell and Virginia Cofer dreamed of starting their own fish taco cart. As they were driving up Signal Mountain Road one day, a beat-up 1970s Airstream trailer caught their eye. After buying it for a song, they spent three months renovating the “silver jalapeño,” installing a kitchen where they now make those tasty grilled fish tacos, along with chili dogs and Black Angus burgers. It closes in the winter, but they just opened a second, year-round location in Warehouse Row. 309 Signal Mountain Rd.; petuniassilverjalapeno.com


St. John’s Restaurant
In 2000, St. John’s Restaurant jump-started the farm-fresh food scene in Chattanooga. Eleven years later, it’s become one of the best restaurants in the South, and Chef Daniel Lindley has two James Beard Award nominations to prove it. He works magic with vegetables (many of them picked that morning), pairing them with a standout pancetta-wrapped veal loin or smoked duck breast. In 2004, he opened the more casual Meeting Place next door. If the gigantic Niman Ranch pork porterhouse is on the menu, by all means go for it. 1278 Market St.; stjohnsrestaurant.com


 

Public House
After opening St. John’s Restaurant and St. John’s Meeting Place with his brother Daniel, Nathan Lindley struck out on his own with the relaxed Public House. The breezy patio is a great spot to catch a sunset, and the food doesn’t take a backseat: The fish is flown in from Foley’s in Boston, and the afternoon Sunday Supper is a favorite for its egg dishes and pitchers of tangy Bloody Marys. Be sure to stop by the adjoining bar, the Social, where the fresh cocktails are all named for songs by legendary alt-rockers the Pixies (“Where Is My Mind?” for example). 1110 Market St.; publichousechattanooga.com

photo: Tara Donne

Deviled eggs with bacon at Public House.


Urban Stack
After establishing Chattanooga’s favorite Mexican joint, Taco Mamacita, Mike and Taylor Monen went all-American with this just-opened burger palace, with creations like the Hamburguesa Mamacita, topped with chorizo, pickled red onion and jalapeño, avocado, and chipotle aioli. The hefty cocktail list is bourbon-soaked, including a Benton’s bacon–infused Manhattan.
12 W. 13th St.; urbanstack.com