The 10 Best Restaurants in Chattanooga
Over the past 10 years, Chattanooga has had an explosion of new restaurants. Most of these venues pride themselves on locally sourced, fresh whole foods. Some of them are almost obnoxious in their pride on having joined the locally-grown bandwagon. Still, their food is fantastic!
St. John's Restaurant
St. John's has been around a long time, but it has consistently offered delicious high-end food in an upscale environment. They have a new chef now, but the quality hasn't changed in the least. Save this restaurant for a special occassion; the prices begin at about $25 an entree. The upstairs bar at the sister restaurant, The Meeting Place, is very popular. There is also a small bar downstairs at St. John's
212 Market is probably the restaurant on this list that has been around the longest. Though the food is fantastic, it doesn't merit a top spot on the list because the atmosphere is horrible. It has the feel of a Holiday Inn hotel restaurant. The menu is one of the best in town, though. Super fresh, local food is all the chef Susan Moses prepares. The variety here is probably the best, making it difficult to choose the best dish to order!
The food and atmosphere at the Public House is perfect. It's like a cozy, crisp cafe serving downhome food with an upscale twist. Everything here is delicious, from the pimiento cheese and fried pickle appetizer to the shrimp and grits to the veggie plate. The owner of the the Public House is super friendly, and he frequently circulates to make sure the patrons are happy. They also have a nice outdoor dining space, though there are only a few tables outdoors. The attached bar, The Social is also a hit.
Boccaccia is run by an Italian family, and the authentic food is very popular even though the restaurant location is a bit off the beaten path. The homeade pasta dishes are to die for! They also have tasty veal. If you are one of the last groups to leave, the owner might even offer to buy your group a drink!
Il Primo is a neighborhood restaurant in Riverview owned by the same chef as Public House. It's only been open for a few months, but it is already the place to be. This place is small and they don't take reservations, but it's worth the wait. It's not too crowded on weeknights. They have good, rustic Italian far with a contemporary twist. The portions are not huge, but the food is fantastic.
Easy Bistro began as a seafood restaurant, but now, though they still have a focus on seafood, the menu is a bit broader. The chef here is top notch. The atmosphere is also really nice. It's right next to the aquarium, so it can attract tourists, but it's not all a tourist trap. The sunday brunch here is one of the best in town. They have the best crab eggs benedict ever! Though this is a "fancy" place, they have plenty of items to offer kids, too. They also have a nice bar, but the long white sofas in the bar are a bit uncomfortable.
1885 serves Southern coastal cuisine in St. Elmo. Their patio is packed constantly, weekends, evenings, and lunches. It's always busy. The food here is really good, but the menu could use a bit more variety. They focus on seafood, but they have things like Turkey Clubs and Cuban sandwiches, too. They do have a really good beer menu, featuring some small breweries that you can't find anywhere else in town.
Community Pie is owned by some super-savvy restaurant operators. They've opened several restaurants in the past few years, and they all have been the perfect restaurant for the location. They are all family-friendly, kind of kitschy places. The food is really good, but the prices are a bit high for what you get. You are paying more for the atmosphere and the "scene" than for spectacular food. That said, the pizza at Community Pie is the best in town. They have both neopololitan, brick oven type pizzas as well as traditional New York pizzas. They also have a delicious arugula salad with a light lemon dressing. The owners of this restaurant also own Taco Mamacita, the recently opened Clyde's on Main, and Milk and Honey.
Alleia is owned by the former owner of St. John's. They have a nice range of prices on their website, from reasonably priced pizzas to $30 entrees. They also have a very popular monthly family style dinner at the giant table in ther center of the restaurant. The dinner is only $32 per person, and you get an unbelievable amount of delicious food. The courses just keep coming out. It is worth signing up for this experience at least once. If not, just a visit to the restaurant on any evening is worthwhile. If you don've have reservations on a weekend night, you may have a very long wait. Use Open Table to make reservations. The restaurant also has a nice bar with tasty specialty cocktails. Once downfall, the service is decent, but the servers all seem to have a bit of a pretentious, unfriendly attitude not seen at any of the other spots on the list.
Tony's Pasta Shop and Trattoria
Tony's has been around a while. It's fairly basic, but it's consistently good. Plus, it's one of the few child-friendly restaurants that qualifies for the "best" list. They have pretty much any type of customizable pasta dish that you can imagine. It's all made in house. They also have delicious, unique salads. Though pasta is their specialty, they have really good non-pasta options as well. They also have a half-price wine night.
With so many choices in Chattanooga, it's hard to narrow the list down to just 10 restaurants, but the above list represents the best of the best. The list also offers a range of price points to choose from. They all welcome children, but Tony's and Public House are probably the two most family friendly. All of these are places you will want to visit more than once!