August 26, 2010 § Leave a comment
While I try not to go more than a few months between visits home, every now and then life gets busy and I find myself away longer than I would like. My last visit to Dalton, my tiny hometown in Northwest Georgia, was over Memorial Day, and it may be until October or November until I can make it back. In addition to missing my family, friends, and family dogs, I always become nostalgic over some of the great restaurants I always try to incorporate on trips home. Here are just a few for anyone passing through Chattanooga, TN, which is just a 30-minute jaunt from Dalton. I truly believe that these rival the majority that I have found in New York!
I began calling Chattanooga my second home while attending GPS for middle and high school. I also had the opportunity to live there for about a year after college writing for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. I can’t say enough good things about the city, the renewal and creativity taking place there, especially on the Southside. I would tell anyone to spend a weekend there and guarantee them a wonderful weekend of fantastic food, unique shops & galleries and natural beauty.
St. John’s Restaurant & Meeting Place
While I am perhaps biased as a former employee, I can confidently say St. Johns is one of the best, most inspiring restaurants that I know, certainly the best in Chattanooga. Chef Daniel Lindley spent time in the Gramercy Tavern kitchen before returning home to open his own restaurant, and the refined cuisine is a testament to his hometown roots and New York City training. For a more casual, bistro atmosphere and menu, pop in next door to The Meeting Place. The scallop dish, a menu staple, is probably my favorite scallop dish of all time. Both the Meeting Place and St. John’s ice cream sundaes are not to be missed when dessert menus appear. The staff and service at both restaurants is of the highest quality and enhance the entire experience and the design of two-level space, a lobby of a historic hotel, is clean yet stunning.
Just around the corner from St. John’s, Alleia is the latest venture from the St. John’s team, and my one meal there early after it’s opening indicated it would be another hit. Chef Lindley’s skills translate perfectly into the Italian menu.
A local favorite, this bakery featuring a vast selection of artisan breads, pastries and other doughy treats. Sandwiches are also available and great for picnic fodder along the River Walk or in Coolidge Park.
The one word you need to know in this tiny, quirky North River hangout is pancakes. Aretha’s even sells their signature mix. The biscuits (and breakfast sandwiches featuring them) are also out of this world for those who lean towards savory breakfast fare. Be sure to snag a spot on the porch or the two-top inside which in its former life was a Pac-Man table.
River Street Deli
Another perfect spot for picnic grub or a quick bite. The Muffaletta is mammoth and the Grilled “ChattaGooey” featuring pimento cheese and ham or turkey is decadent. My sister, a lover of all things sweet, swears by their signature Elana Ruz, another grilled offering with honey cured turkey, cream cheese and strawberry preserves. For a truly Southern experience, be sure to ask for a side of black eyed pea salad.
After lunch at River Street, walk upstairs to Clumpy’s for homemade ice cream that had developed a loyal following around town. The name is fairly brilliant for an ice cream shop as well. The coconut almond chuck, ginger white chocolate chunk and grasshopper are some of my favorites. Kids and those who are young at heart might take pleasure in the animal cracker complete with pink frosting or firecracker which features Pop Rocks. As an aside, ice cream will be featured prominently and frequently on this blog, so be prepared. I’m a girl after my father’s heart, afterall.