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Best Chattanooga Restaurants for Dinner (+ a $50 giveaway!)



Posted by on Sep 20, 2013 | 39 comments


I've saved my favorite Chattanooga restaurants for last; while most of them could be lunch destinations as well, I prefer these for dinner fare.  I'll share a bit about why they're included and pictures if I have them. 

chilled water & menu from the BoatHouse menu

Boat House Rotisserie & Raw Bar

Riverside, 1459 Riverside Drive, Chattanooga, TN 37406 || 423-622-0122


View from the Boat House restaurant on the TN River in Chattanooga

Our view…

Why I love it:  Back porch seating overlooking the Tennessee River.  It's worth it to wait or arrive early (or late) in order to grab a spot; you're doubly lucky if it's at sunset.   The Boat House is located along the Tennessee Riverpark, a 10-mile stretch of trails starting at the Chickamauga Dam and ending in Downtown Chattanooga.  We park our car near the dam and ride bikes to the Boat House; then, stop for a few eats and drinks to rest and reload for the rest of our ride.   


Something special:  If you arrive between 2-6, you'll receive Happy Hour prices on drinks AND appetizers; you'll be able to sample a lot for a little money.  Their fried okra is spectacular–whole pods sliced lengthwise, then lightly battered and fried to perfection (my friend Stephanie swears by their woodgrilled okra but I'm holding tight).  Funny, I've only tasted a few menu items because these things are what keep me coming back. Salads are very good, the Voodoo Chicken is a nice change-up on chicken, and their fries, cooked in olive oil, are impossible to resist.

Fried okra from the Boathouse Rotisserie & Raw Bar in ChattanoogaOne more thing:
  This is one of the three restaurants owned by Lawton & Karen Haygood that make my list.  Three different concepts, three fantastic eateries.

 Facebook page || 


Public House

Southside,  1110 Market St. Chattanooga 37402 || 423.266.3366

Public House Restaurant in ChattanoogaWhy I love it
:  The story behind the restaurant: "…an extension of a community…" (one reason I love homegrown spots).  They offer high quality & local-when-possible ingredients, attentive service, and little details that make a difference (i.e., black napkins if you're wearing dark clothes but white cloth if not). They offer two sizes of sides, a wide variety of selection and complimentary Niedlov's yeast rolls (but only by request).

Public House Restaurant in ChattanoogaSomething special:  
The decor will grab your attention the minute you walk in the door.  For some reason the white leather (pleather? vinyl??) made me think "Frank Sinatra"…but I don't know why.  It feels simultaneously retro and current.  

If you'd like an afternoon cocktail or have to wait for a table, be sure to check out The Social, a small gathering spot/watering hole just beyond the restaurant.  It was there one afternoon the bartender gave us a lesson in all things Chartreuse, its origin as a French liqueur made by Carthusian Monks, which in turn, lends itself to the yellow/green shade by the same name.

One more thing:  It's been too long since I've eaten at the Public House, in large part because it's 30 minutes+ from our house; the fried chicken is the only thing I can remember to recommend; but I couldn't let that stop me from putting it on my list–it really is a special place.   Oh, and I can't think of anyone else who has a better, more engaged, local social media presence!

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Urban Stack

Southside, 12 West 13th Street Chattanooga, TN 37402 || 423.475.5350

Why I love it:   Their venue, the Southern Railway Baggage Building (circa 1867), and yes, their burgers.  Plus, I applaud them for buying local when possible.   My go-to burger simple–The Big Cheese–but it becomes spectacular with their housemade pimento cheese, melty and drippy.  Say yes to the Gouda Creamed Corn and a dessert shake using Clumpies Ice Cream.

Something special:  They've built "one of the most environmentally friendly businesses in one of the oldest buildings in the city."   (LEED Certified.)  Cool beans.  

Urban Stack is one of several restaurants that make my list by local restauranteurs Taylor and Mike Monen–I mentioned Milk & Honey on my breakfast list and you'll see another below.

One more thing:   This is a burger and bourbon bar, and from what I understand they have some mighty fine whiskeys–I'm wildly curious if I could tell the difference between a 2-ounce pour of Johnnie Walker Blue ($67, most expensive) and Old Crow ($4.50, cheapest).  The bourbon menu is fun to read and it's educational: you'll learn there's a way to order it: neat, on the rock or stacked.

Unless you arrive during off hours, you're going to have to wait.  

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Margarita at Taco MamacitaTaco Mamacita

Northshore, 109 North Market Street, Chattanooga, TN 37405 || 423.648.6262

Why I love it:  It's not Tex-Mex, it's Fresh-Mex.  This is the third restaurant making my lists from the talented team of Mike and Taylor Monen.  I love Taco Mamacita's branding–colorful, fun, memorable and consistent with their fare.  You really can taste the fresh, and Taco Mamacita is not – I repeat not– a typical Mexican restaurant.

Something special:   Mexican Street Corn, shaved (off the cob) and the Salsa Sampler (mango jalepeno, sweet and spicy).  My favorite taco is the General Homeboy and their Peruvian Chicken is tender and yummy.  Like margaritas?  Try the Elvez.

One more thing:  This is the only Monen-owned restaurant with locations elsewhere – Nashville and Sullivan's Island – but I'm thinking that's only a matter of time.  The Monens develop a concept well, set a standard of excellence, and the rest is up to the customers.  If you're at any of their restaurants during peak hours (Taca Mamacita, Urban Stack, Milk & Honey and I'm guessing Community Pie, too, a newish pizza venture), you're going to have to wait.  It's worth it.

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Two chains I have to mention–
1) because they're in the Gunbarrel Road/Hamilton Place Mall area
(so much of what I mention is downtown); and
2) because they're closer to where we live, they're places we frequent.

J. Alexanders

2215 Hamilton Place Blvd, Chattanooga, TN 37421 || 423.855.5559

Why I love it:  Consistent, excellent quality, large portions (though smaller in recent years) and exceptional service.  I'm partial to their salmon or marinated rib-eyes, and their loaded baked potato is the loadiest of them all.  

Something special:  Servings are large and we typically share an entree and split a salad. There's no way you'll have room for dessert if you get an appetizer, so keep that in mind.  They've recently added guacamole to their menu and it's absolutely HOLY GUACAMOLE!  A mile high and chunky, expensive but soooo good.  

One more thing:   The Key Lime Pie WILL be the best you've ever put in your mouth–mounds of real, whipped cream and not too tart, not too sweet.  All of their desserts are delicious, worth the price and calories, large enough to share.   Also, they're one of the few local restaurants I've found that serve Mollydooker wines by the glass, a favorite when I can get it.

 Facebook || Twitter (No local social media presence–boo!)


Bonefish Grill

2115 Gunbarrel Rd, Chattanooga, TN 37421 || 423.892.3175

50 Dollar Bonefish Grill Giftcard GiveawayWhy I love it:  Five dollar Bang Bang Shrimp on Wednesday nights!!  I get a side salad & their delicious bread and it's a wonderfully priced, consistently good meal.

Something special:  Servers knowledgeably recommend what preparation to go with the type fish you're considering.  Warm mango salsa, pan asian, lemon butter–it's hard for me to decide because they all sound good.  Also, their Pecan Parmesan-Crusted Trout was fantastic the last time I had it (but since I keep going back for the Bang Bang Shrimp $5 deal, it's been a long time since I've ordered anything else).

One more thing:  Don't turn your nose up if you aren't a fan of chain restaurants or think you can't get good seafood when you aren't near the coast.  There's a very good reason Bonefish is always crowded–it's fairly priced, the staff is well-trained and attentive, and the seafood is consistent and delicious.  (Consistency is important to me, can you tell? It's high praise when I mention it.)

In fact, I happened to find out in advance that Bonefish Grill was voted the Times Free Press Best of the Best for Seafood in Chattanooga this year!!  They'll be featured in the TFP 9/27 edition (along with the rest of the Best of the Best winners)!

In celebration, Bonefish is awarding a $50 gift card to one of my readers, details at the end of this post.

Facebook || Twitter (Facebook is local (yaeee!), Twitter is corporate)


Worthy mentions:

I like these spots a lot, and I'll tell ya why ~

Sugar's Ribs.  Yummy barbecue, fresh corn on the cob (a specialty, you'll see why), wood-grilled okra & perfect sweet tea.  Owned by the same couple as Boat House Rotisserie and Raw Bar (and Canyon Grill below), they do what they do VERY well.  Plus, there's entertainment for the children:  goats.  While you're waiting on your food, you can feed the goats!  (Yes, they're outside…!)

Tonys_Pasta_ChattanoogaTony's Pasta Shop & Trattoria.  A fabulous location in the Bluff View Arts District (downtown).  Tony's is a local institution, reasonably priced and good Italian.  It has fun outdoor and upstairs (backporch) seating, but you're going to have to wait if you arrive during peak hours; there are no reservations or call ahead seating.  

St. Johns Restaurant.  Arguably the nicest restaurant in Chattanooga; also, the most expensive (the reason I didn't include it in more detail).  You can expect excellent service in a beautiful setting, but if you eat upstairs, your food might cool a bit by the time it arrives from the downstairs kitchen.  There's also their sister restaurant right next door, the Meeting Place.  For some reason, we've never made it there, but it's reputed to be the same delicous food; just in a more casual setting.  Yep, it's on my list.


And if you ask me my absolute favorite?  I'll tell you……..

Canyon Grill

The Haygood's third restaurant on my list (joining Boathouse and Sugar's).  It's a worthwhile drive from downtown Chattanooga, located in a
modest building at the top of beautiful Lookout Mountain.  Don't judge
this award-winning restaurant by its cover–the food is memorable, fresh and nothing
short of spectacular.  They ice down all their meats and seafoods rather
than refrigerate them.  My favorites:

  • Slash & Burn Catfish ~ it's not just an entree, it's an experience.  Ugly to look at, beautiful to eat,
    and they keep track of how many they've sold (21,571 when I checked).  I cannot believe they've shared the recipe.
  • Fried Squash ~ I cannot figure out how to duplicate its light coating, and it is by far the best I've ever tasted.
  • Coconut Cake ~ OhMyLanta–THIS is Nectar of the Gods in cake form.  I
    don't even LIKE coconut, and every time I eat this the heavens illumine and angels sing.
  • Other mentionables:  hickory smoked steaks and bread
    pudding (one of my friends wanted to buy the decadent sauce and drink
    it).  Canyon Grill is located in a dry county, but you can "bring your own" if you'd like.


BIG THANKS to Bonefish Grill for offering a $50 giftcard to one of my readers, in celebration of their Times Free Press win for Best of the Best – Seafood in Chattanooga!  (Giftcard is good at ANY Bonefish Grill.)

To enter this giveaway, simply Like this post using the FB button below and/or share this post within your social networks.   Comment the URL to your Facebook Status, Tweet, Pin or whatever you choose to do; you can also Like the Bonefish Grill Chattanooga and Corporate page and comment that you did for extra entries.  

You're welcome to enter more than once but be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry.  Deadline for entry is Friday, September 27th (midnight EST), the day the Times Free Press award winners are published.


The Best Chattanooga Lunch Spots

My Favorite Chattanooga Breakfast Venues


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#LoveWhereYouLive ~ Chattanooga’s Best Restaurants for LUNCH!



Posted by on Aug 26, 2013 | 5 comments

Love-Where-You-Live-black-pinkMy favorite lunch spots in Chattanooga

Southern Star

It's been too long since I've been to Southern Star, but the fact I'm
putting it number one for lunch is telling:  it's fun, home-style cookin' and
representative of true Southern fare (I have a love thang for their creamed corn and mashed potatoes).  Their sweet tea is perfect and
they'll start you with wafer-thin cornbread on the house (ask for it
extra crispy and be sure to
Screen Shot 2013-08-26 at 12.58.23 PMsprinkle with salt).  Menu changes daily but salads and sandwiches are always available.  I hate to say it but their desserts aren't my favorite…they look better than they taste.  Open weekdays only
on the Southside, 1300 Broad St, Chattanooga 37402 (second location on Signal Mountain).


Good Dog, Chattanooga, Exterior
Good Dog, Chattanooga, interiorGood Dog.

If I liked hotdogs better, this might've made the #1 spot for lunch; it's not just about the food, I like the story behind the food.  What Five Guys did for burgers, Susan, Fred & the gang are doing for dogs.  They're part of Chattanooga's Harvested Here movement and they refuse to use anything but fresh ingredients, local when available.  Sausages are seasoned and cased in-house, gluten-free buns are available, and I'm partial to their twice-fried fries (frites), served in a cone that plops right in an opening in your table.  Come early and plan to gander a bit–their tiny space is FULL of dog-gone fun memorabilia and local artistry.   On the North Shore, open seven days.  34 Frazier Ave, Chattanooga 37405.


Fresh 2 Order interior, ChattanoogaFresh 2 Order

One of only two chains I'll mention, but they've earned it the old fashioned way:  by serving "Fine. Food. Fast!"  They have the BEST salads in Chattanooga (my favorite is the Market–mixed baby greens, balsamic vinaigrette dressing, candied walnuts, golden raisins, cranberries, apples, toasted almonds, but I hold the mandarin oranges).  One of the things I like best about F2O is they have full portions and 3/4 portions, and recently they added very reasonably priced Chef Small Bite Appetizers.  Just look at this gorgeous Almond-crusted Seared
Sushi Chef Small Bite at F2OTuna atop Asian Slaw with a Dijon Vinegarette!!  A perfect size for me and only $5.  Crazy.  One more plus (as if there weren't enough), I love their decor.  You WILL be served FAST but it feels anything like a fast-food place.  You can order online in advance, on their monitor when you walk in the door or stand in line to place it; a little off-putting at first but no big deal once you've tried it.  Kids eat free on Sundays.  Hamilton Place Mall area, 1919 Gunbarrel Road, 
Chattanooga, 37421.


Terminal Brew House Chattanooga, view from second floorTerminal Brew House. 

I've only been there once and all I can say is Shame on me!  TBH is the kind of place that attracts both locals and visitors, and its diverse menu will leave everyone with more than a few choices.  They use locally sourced ingredients and their craft beers are found elsewhere around town.   My daughter loves the Fru Fru Chicken Sandwich, and their sweet potato fries are the best I've had (dusted in cinnamon sugar & fried perfectly); we inhaled their Festo–Feta Basil Olive Oil Spread slathered on fresh bread.  If you order the salmon, make sure to ask for it rare (mine was overcooked and dry).  YUM on the bacon-studded grits & although I can't speak from experience, friends rave about their salads and burgers.  Oh, and if you're curious about their in-house crafted beers?  Try their sampler, six 2-ounce pours and a great way to figure out which you like best.


Salmon Elliott, Bacon-studded Grits, Chipotle Whisky Baked Beans @ Terminal Brew House

Salmon Elliott, Bacon-studded grits & Chipotle Whisky Baked Beans


The Fru Fru @ Terminal Brew House in Chattanooga

The Fru Fru Chicken Sandwich with Sweet Potato Fries & Regular Fries
Beer Sampler @ Terminal Brew House in Chattanooga

Beer Sampler


The English Rose Tea Room.

Yes, it's a tea room, but I've never gone for tea, only lunch (though we DID have tea service 🙂 ).  It's authentic, lovely for a special, memorable outing, and a departure from the ordinary.  I had the yummy soup of the day (potato leek) with a crusty roll, and while I don't recall what anyone else had, we ended our meal with Eton Chaos (fresh strawberries and meringue chips folded into whipped cream) and Profiteroles (cream puffs served with chocolate sauce and custard).  Mmmmm!  If the Southside was closer to my house, I'd frequent the English Rose, it doesn't just feed the stomach, it feeds the soul.  In addition to tea and food service, they have a fun little gift shop full of All Things Tea  Open Tuesday- Saturday, 11:00-5:00; 1401 Market Street, Chattanooga, 37402.


Sofa King Juicy Burger

I'm adding this one for three reasons: a) FANtastic onion rings made with Aretha Frankenstein's pancake batter; b) Liquid nitrogen milkshakes made right before your eyes–it's a show for little ones and the young at heart (they're made in a shake "lab" while you watch); c) the kitsch.  I love their branding concept.  I know, I know, you can't judge a book by its cover, but I like their retro vibe.  Their burgers are good, better to me than Southern Burger Co.  Though I wish I could add Southern Burger to my list, I've had bad experiences twice now at their Ooltewah location (soggy buns, limp french fries, small servings and marginal service; I hope their other location is better and their line is a mile long at the Chattanooga Market, a good sign).  Just beyond Downtown, 1743 Dayton Blvd, Chattanooga, 37405.


NoteablesBeyond the Garden Gate (off the beaten path in Ooltewah, a little kitschy, but their quiche & raspberry tea are favorites); Champy's (the best Chattanooga fried chicken), Cafe Roma (their website is lacking, but their food is not!  VERY worth the drive to Cleveland, TN; great seafood). 

If you live in the Tennessee Valley, what are your favorite lunch destinations?? 

DO share your favorite hometown lunch spots in comments!  If you aren't a blogger, you can even link your list from Facebook or Pinterest!!



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Love Where You Live! (a new series launch + invitation to show off YOUR hometown)



Posted by on Aug 10, 2013 | 23 comments

Love-Where-You-Live-Button-Robin-DanceI'll be honest: it wasn't love at first site
.  I resisted her charms because I was so attached to my previous love.

I was blind, I was deaf and I was…dumb.

Sure, her beauty was obvious enough, but it took me a long, long while to see everything she had to offer–her depth, her breadth, her style, her substance. 

Today I am absolutely smitten–

Chattanooga, Tennessee, home to the famed Choo Choo and the heart and soul of the Tennessee Valley. 

My hometown of the last ten years, the place where I've watched my children grow up, the setting where I started blogging – likely the reason I started blogging! – a town that has burrowed her way under my skin and taken up residence in my heart.

It's not unusual for me to receive emails asking about what to do and where to eat when people visit Chattanooga; I love sharing my favorites. 

Over the next few weeks I'm going to introduce you to Chattanooga in the series Love Where You Live and I'm inviting you to join me by introducing ME to where YOU live. 

We'll start on Monday, August 19th.  For four weeks I'll give you a topic to share your favorites on that subject, giving all of us an opportunity to be virtual walking, talking billboards for the places we live.  It's a Chamber of Commerce dream!

The more I thought about it, the more I realized it would be even more fun to invite others to do the same thing.  Please join me in this fun, weekly Link-up!   Invite your readers to take part, too–share this post and be sure to Pin it, Tweet it, Facebook & Stumble to amplify our reach.  If you aren't already a subscriber, now is the perfect time to get email updates to alert you to each weekly prompt.

Feel free to grab the button at the top of my page that my wonderful friend Sarah created for me–I love it!  She made it customizable at the bottom so you can add the name of your hometown, too (I created mine below at 

First favorites?  Restaurants!  Tell us all about the places you frequent, the best kept secrets, the scroungy diners it takes years to discover and that only the locals know about.  Share a simple list of five or write mini-reviews on a dozen–it's up to you. 

Let me know in comments if you're planning to join–the more the merrier!!  Then remember to pop over on Monday, August, 19th to link your post and virtually visit those who join in. 





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Around/About: The “When spending is worthwhile” edition



Posted by on Dec 8, 2012 | 1 comment

A collection of links I love, sites I like,
interesting reads or cool happenings


Pure Charity Shopping

Tsh Oxenreider aka Simple Mom is one of my friend-heroes… frienderoes?  Before you do anything else today, please take time to read her post, "Holiday Shopping?  Wait Just One Second," on how your ordinary spending can produce extraordinary results.


I don't agree with her every tenet but you should make time to read Sarah's piece, "happiness isn't that important." Juxtaposing personal happiness at the expense of another's misery, she speaks to parenting and culture at large.  Thought-provoking and pinching your toes.


A friend of mine has been writing letters to her teenage daughters; Shelly and I connect on a lot of levels–faith, same stage of life and similar parenting styles.  These letters are a great idea, touching on themes of peserverance, generosity, pressure…and more.  Read them; then maybe write some letters of your own.


Photo-55I'm been a fangirl of for years; my love language is "words of encouragement," so OF COURSE I'm drawn to word art.  Their scripture section is 20% off today (Saturday), and a little bird told me to be on the lookout for these darling stocking stuffers (a personal gift from Dee) to be on sale later this week.


I wrote First Night/Last Night through a blur of tears; an emotional post for me.  What's funny is several people picked up on my Swiss Diamond frying pan shout out (asking me about it privately).  Seriously–I pour out my heart and tell a rambling story ten months in the making and people noticed that?  Which, actually is a great thing IF they decided to buy one…because I made eggs this morning and slummed with some Tefalon inferior wannabe (because mine is still on its way home).  And cried.  (Guys–this would make a GREAT gift for your wife if she likes to cook (or for you if YOU like to cook) and though it's not cheap, I've had mine about seven years and have never regretted its price.).


My new favorite blog du jour is; the timing and truth-telling in when i live by revision is a good example why.


Photo-57If you live near Chattanooga, you have GOT to check out  My brilliant friends Amanda and Sarah have JUST THIS WEEK soft-opened their cooking school and catering company.  Reading their 2012 Holiday menu will get your mouth watering, and they're already filling their calendar with fun, delicous events.  Make plans NOW to stop by their Sip and Shop on the 18th, then thank me for the head's up on my new favorite, local business.  

I had a gazillion more links I wanted to share but accidentally closed out eleventy-seven tabs then lost and forgot 'em.  So…do share your favorites in comments!!


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Little German girl?



Posted by on May 15, 2012 | 1 comment

7204997994_1bc3df2f75_cMaybe I did it to promote a wonderfully fun, worthwhile event.

Maybe I did it as a small attempt to bridge culture and community.   

Maybe I did it because I had a wild hair ('cause trust me, the hair, she was wild…!)

Or m a y b e I just did it 'cause I'll use any excuse to slip on a Princess dress.

Who knows?

In any event, Christian Hoeferle (of Höferle Consulting) and I had opportunity to sit down with Cindy Sexton and WRCB's 3 Plus You gang to talk about all things Germany and what's going on this weekend in Cleveland to celebrate the culture.  

Maifest is in its seventh year and when I'm done slaying  swimming with  riding rowing dragons I plan to join my German expat friends for an afternoon of fun.  

Thanks to Dawn Scowronnek for the link to our segment below; not showing up for you?  Try this.

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