Eat Like a Local: Chattanooga, Tennessee
For Yahoo Food’s travel summer series, Eat Like a Local, we’re taking you on a cross-country food crawl, city by city. Here’s where to chow down in America’s lesser-known destinations without sticking out like a sore thumb.
(Photo credit: Courtesy Hickory Pit Bar-B-Que)
Nashville is just a two-hour drive from Chattanooga, Tennessee, but that trip is no longer a must if you want a good dining experience.
“I’ve lived in Chattanooga for 13 years now,” Nooga.com reporter Sean Phipps told us. “When I started college here, we had basically a row of restaurants downtown on Market Street, and they were all national chains. Over the past ten years, though, we’ve seen this focus on local foods and farm-to-table restaurants.”
That’s in response to local demand. “If you are opening a new restaurant and you don’t source locally, that’s a problem with restaurant-goers in Chattanooga,” he said.
Here’s where Phipps said you should eat in Chattanooga when you visit, because it’s a destination in its own right.
Alleia’s wood-burning oven. (Photo credit: Courtesy Alleia)
Best White Tablecloth: Alleia
Alleia’s chef Daniel Lindley has been nominated for the James Beard Foundation Award for best chef in the southeast in 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014. That’s quite a track record. The food is Italian, the wine list is extensive, and the vibe is friendly. “Occasionally, they will send out an invite for a big communal dinner,” said Phipps. “They put all the tables together in the restaurant, and for 25-30 bucks, they will feed you family-style. It really promotes the idea of sharing a meal with strangers.”(25 E Main St.; 423-305-6990)
Best Hole in the Wall: Lamar’s
Climb the steps of a former hotel on the corner of Central Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard, walk through what appears to be to deserted dining room and down a small hallway, and enter a side room with a jukebox that plays Prince and soul music. You are now at Lamar’s. It’s “the last stop before you call it a night,” says Phipps, and you can order a side of fried chicken with your “wickedly strong” drink. “The hours can be weird. If the light’s on, they’re open.” You’ve must be 25 to get in, and you must play by owner Gerald’s rules. “There’s a sign in there that ‘No PDA.’ Some people have been scolded, I’ve heard.”(1018 E Martin Luther King Blvd.; 423-266-0988)