Southern Agenda

A New Flame

Chef Erik Niel was born in Texas, but he was raised in Louisiana and has made his name as the chef-owner of Chattanooga’s heralded Main Street Meats and Easy Bistro & Bar. But texas smoke has never left his taste buds. “I realize that I am in Tennessee, where barbecue means something different than it does in Texas,” he says. Later this summer, when he opens his newest restaurant, Little Coyote in Chattanooga’s historic St. Elmo neighborhood, he’ll pay homage to barbecue traditions that have long inspired him, including smoked meats and fish from Tex-Mex, Cuban, Caribbean, and Southwestern cuisines. Tequila and mezcal cocktails will complement chuck eye steak slow-smoked like brisket, as well as pork-stuffed tortillas with chimichurri. Amanda Niel, his wife and restaurant co-owner, incorporated Southwestern elements into the design—copper accents, ample houseplants, and turquoise-tinged terra-cotta tiles—and the new place sits mere steps away from the incline railway that carries passengers straight up Lookout Mountain.