What to Eat, Drink and Do in the Scenic City: A Thirsty Guide to Chattanooga

Many avid travelers, who had to postpone their vacation plans due to the pandemic, are looking to shorter trips to less crowded, small towns or cities to get their wanderlust fix this year. Surrounded by mountaintops, Chattanooga, Tennessee is one of America’s most breathtaking, smaller cities that has become a hot destination for a quick, safe getaway.

The charming city of Chattanooga is located on the beautiful Tennessee River and tucked in between the mountains of Southeast Tennessee.  Boasting a hometown feel, Chattanooga has a walkable, historic downtown district called Southside. The streets of Southside are lined with small local shops and restaurants as well as dotted with outdoor sculpture art and green spaces. “The Scenic City” also has outdoor adventure attractions on the river and at nearby Lookout Mountain.

“The Scenic City” has many nicknames, “Chatt”, “Nooga”-and the “Gig City”. Chattanooga is the first American city to offer 1 Gigabit-per-second fiber internet service to all of its residents and businesses.

EAT & DRINK

Unknown Caller

Chattanooga’s first speakeasy offers a seasonal cocktail menu with classic as well as house creations.  The dark and intimate setting, with live candles sprinkled throughout, has a British flair reflecting the owner’s London roots.

The Jungle Witch

This long-running favorite house cocktail balances the bitterness of the Campari with the juicy, sweetness of the pineapple; stirred with Centenario 7-Year-Old Rum, Pineapple Infused Campari, Lime, Cinnamon Demerara Syrup; spritzed with Absinthe and garnished with Pineapple Frond.

TIP: Enter through the red British telephone booth on Cherry Street

715 Cherry St., Chattanooga, TN; unknowncallerbar.com; @UnknownCallerBar

High Rail at The Chattanoogan Hotel

Located on the hotel’s second floor, this newly opened rooftop bar and eatery is a modern outdoor hangout space complete with fire pits and scenic views of the city. Enjoy yummy regionally-inspired food and crafted cocktails, such as the High Rail Old Fashioned made with local Chattanooga Whiskey.

1201 Broad Street, Chattanooga, TN; hilton.com//the-chattanoogan-hotel/dining; @highrailchattanooga

The Terminal Brewhouse

Across from the historical Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel, The Terminal Brewhouse offers a second story, outdoor patio deck overlooking Station Street, an open container, entertainment destination.  Order a sampler of 5oz. servings of all the craft brew on the seasonal menu, like their easy-to-drink Malachi Red Ale -a medium-bodied ale with balanced hops and a clean finish.  Enjoy your beer with a delish Brewhouse 6oz. Bison Burger, cooked medium-rare.

1464 Market Street, Chattanooga, TN; terminalbrewhouse.com; @terminalbrewhouse

BRUNCH

State of Confusion

State of Confusion, one of the newest restaurant venues on Chattanooga’s Southside, features made-from-scratch Latin American, New Orleans, and low country food. Although the indoor/outdoor restaurant offers lunch and dinner, it’s a great place to hang out for brunch.  Try fried bologna, a local favorite, and feast on the House Bologna Hash -eggs cooked to order over fried bologna, potatoes, Cheddar cheese, peppers and onions; served in a cast iron pie pan. For a sweet tooth, you wouldn’t be able to resist their house-made Strawberry Funnel Cake -topped with powdered sugar, fresh strawberries and cool whip; served with a side of strawberry sauce.

Brunch drinks include Agua Fresca Mimosas – such as Strawberry-Basil, and the tasty Confusion Sunrise cocktail -mixed with Blood Orange Recover 180, Vodka, St. Germaine, Cointreau, Riesling, Lime Juice, and Pineapple Juice.

301 E. Main Street, Chattanooga, TN; soconfusion.com; @confusionchattanoog

Niedlov’s Cafe & Bakery

Enjoy the morning on the charming garden patio off the side of this incredible Southside local bakery – bread lovers, beware! Brunch on Avocado Toast – with chili oil, cilantro, green onion, and topped with poached local egg; served on Niedlov’s whole wheat 4 seed artisan bread, or the Breakfast Special -Niedlov’s made-from-scratch English muffin topped with bacon jam, a scrambled egg, ham, Swiss cheese, and arugula.

215 E. Main Street, Chattanooga, TN; niedlovs.co; @niedlovs

FINE DINE

Easy Bistro & Bar

Erik Niel (James Beard Nomination for Best Chef: Southeast 2017) and his wife Amanda opened Easy Bistro & Bar in downtown Chattanooga’s West Village district, on the site of the world’s first Coca-Cola bottling plant. Chef Erik’s Louisiana roots and love for quality catch is reflected in the seafood-focused menu, which includes a raw oyster bar selection.

Sip on ‘old school’ as well as ‘new school’ craft cocktails, such as the tart and spicy Black Magic Woman, mixed with Tequila Blanco, Blackberry, Ancho Reyes Verde, Gran Classico, Lime & Jalapeño. Great small plate starters include Oven Roasted Oysters or Pickled Hen Eggs.

801 Chestnut St, Chattanooga, TN; easybistro.com; @easybistro

Old Gilman Grill

Formerly housing the historical Gilman Paint & Varnish Co., today, this upscale restaurant serves American fare with a French twist. Old Gilman Grill is located in the West Village district of downtown Chattanooga.

Dine al fresco near the massive indoor/outdoor bar, or in the dining room for a more intimate experience. Enjoy an interesting wine or a classic cocktail, made table-side, while feasting on house specialties, like Trout Almondine – served with French green beans, toasted almonds, and Meuniere sauce. And, check out their boutique wine shop located in the restaurant’s lobby.

216 W 8th Street, Chattanooga, TN; oldgilmangrill.com; @oldgilmangrill

TASTING TOURS

Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery Tour

Located in the Southside District, the Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery is a micro-distillery and tasting room steeped in the history of when Chattanooga’s whiskey game was at its peak in the pre-prohibition days. Reserve a tour and flight tasting which includes the delightful Chatt Whiskey Silver – a clear Tennessee High Malt with honeysuckle notes; Chatt Whiskey 99 Rye -full-bodied with a malty sweet and spicy finish; and Sazerac cocktail sampler -made with Chatt 91 Whiskey and Dr. Thatcher’s cocktail syrup. All, and more, available for purchase.

1439 Market Street Chattanooga, TN; @Chattwhiskey

To book tour: chattanoogawhiskey.com

Chatt Taste Food Tour

Chatt Taste showcases the transformation of dining and local businesses in Downtown Chattanooga through guided food tours, such as the popular West Village, and the recently launched Art & Southern Cuisine. Led by local Foodie Entrepreneur, Briana, guests visit 3-4 restaurants for a unique dining experience that embraces local art and culture, with the option to add cocktail pairings.

To book tour: chatttaste.com; @chatttaste

STAY

Moxy Chattanooga Downtown

At King Street Station, the stylishly chic hotel is ideally located in the hip Southside Historic District.  The Moxy Chattanooga Downtown’s dedicated bus stop on Market Street is serviced by a free, electric downtown shuttle bus, plus, there’s a nearby bike-share station. But, if you’re driving, there are EV charging stations and plenty of parking options all around town.

Marriott’s millennial-focused Moxy Hotels are famously known for its unique check-in experience at the lobby bar. At Bar Moxy, in addition to receiving your room’s key cards, you also receive a casino-style chip redeemable at the bar for a welcome drink of your choice.

Another Moxy hotel signature is its Living Room, a lobby hangout area available for 24/7 socializing. At Moxy Nooga, the Living Room has four distinct zones, each features bold, colorful murals from local artist “SEVEN” that highlight Chattanooga’s rich culture and several iconic tourist destinations in the area.

Every guestroom at Moxy Chattanooga Downtown is designed to be a functional, flexible and uncluttered space. An example of a room’s sleek and simple minimalist style is the open storage concept, featuring the brand’s signature peg wall where guests can unpack and hang their clothes in lieu of having a traditional closet.  Also, expect at this smoke-free hotel, free fast WiFi, a comfy bed facing a large, wall-mounted LCD TV, -from which you can access your private Netflix account, and a walk-in rain shower that you will never want to get out of.

Other amenities for travelers include an ironing room with an automatic water bottle dispenser on each floor. Next to Bar Moxy, guests will find a 24/7 self-service, grab-and-go beverage and food area with a wide range of locally-sourced food and drinks, such as artisanal snacks from Nokes Granola, naturally flavored soda water from Pure Soda Works, fresh-baked bagels and pretzels from Niedlov’s Breadworks and donuts from Julie Darling Donuts. Also, available 24/7, is the Moxy Gym.  For more about BAR MOXY, keep reading!

TIP: Moxy Hotels are pet-friendly – as is Chattanooga – so you needn’t leave your furry baby at home.

1220 King Street, Chattanooga, TN; marriott.com/hotels/travel/moxy-chattanooga-downtown; @moxynooga

WHERE TO DRINK AT MOXY CHATTANOOGA DOWNTOWN

Bar Moxy

Part Check-in Desk; part Hotel Lobby Bar.

Got Moxy

Moxy’s signature cocktail on tap is made with Bacardi Dragon Berry Rum and Fresh Lime Juice.

The Railyard

Designed to appeal to next-generation travelers, the pet-friendly Railyard has 7,000 square feet of outdoor patio space that serves as “the place to be” for Happy Hour as well as the epicenter of nightlife for the Chattanooga Southside until the wee hours of the morning.

SIGHTS

Rock City Gardens

Located atop Lookout Mountain, and 6 miles south from downtown Chattanooga, the drive to Rock City will take you through St. Elmo’s historical district, a small, quaint neighborhood, and up through breathtaking, winding roads.

Rock City Gardens is a natural attraction known as a unique geological and botanical wonder. Once past the entrance, visitors venture on a 4,100-foot walking trail, showcasing soaring rock formations, caves, and lush gardens along the way. Special highlights are the 140-foot waterfall that cascades down Lookout Mountain, a panoramic view of seven states from Lover’s Leap lookout, and a Swing-A-Long Bridge that spans nearly 200 feet.

At the end of your walk, you can enjoy two casual dining options on the grounds, the Café 7, located on the terrace at Lover’s Leap, or Big Rock Grill, located right inside Rock City’s entrance.

TIP: Your well-behaved dog is welcome to join you on this scenic tour.

1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain, GA; @seerockcity

Tickets by Online Reservation Only: seerockcity.com

Ruby Falls

Also located at Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls is home to America’s deepest commercial cave and tallest underground waterfall open to the public. Visitors descend 260 feet by elevator into the mountain to explore the underground cavern. Following the guided tour, take in the panoramic view of the Tennessee Valley from the Lookout Mountain Tower.

Ruby Falls is strongly committed to environmental sustainability and was the first attraction in America to receive the Green Globe Certification. Their sustainable practices include using all LED lighting, installing solar 6 panels, and recycling.

TIP: Adjacent to Ruby Falls, experience one-of-a-kind thrills on the High Point ZIP Adventure, featuring more than 700 feet of rushing ziplines and a 40-foot climbing tower.

1720 South Scenic Highway, Chattanooga, TN; @RubyFallsCave

Tickets by Online Reservation Only: rubyfalls.com

Hunter Museum of American Art

Located above the Bluff View Art District, the museum was built atop a ninety-foot limestone bluff overlooking the Tennessee River. The sprawling Hunter Museum of American Art is made up of three distinct buildings: a Neoclassical-style brick mansion, a low-slung 1970s building, with a central atrium, that adjoins the Hunter mansion as the East Wing, and, the West Wing is a 21st Century contemporary -style waterfront structure that serves as the museum’s main entrance.

The Hunter museum showcases 100 years of architecture and houses the finest collection of American art in the Southeast. You’ll find impressive special exhibitions hosted, such as THE F WORD: WE MEAN FEMALE! -which commemorates the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage through a range of artworks by female artists -current until January 2021.

10 Bluff View, Chattanooga, TN; @HunterMuseum

Tickets by Online Reservation Only: huntermuseum.org

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