clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Drone aerial view of Downtown Chattanooga Tennessee and the Tennessee River at sunset
A view of Downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Shutterstock

20 Essential Bars and Restaurants in Chattanooga, Tennessee

From stacked high sandwiches and carousels of fried chicken to quirky cocktail dens and iconic pubs

View as Map
A view of Downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee.
| Shutterstock

Nope — in Chattanooga, there’s neither a Graceland for Elvis enthusiasts to flock to, nor a beloved style of barbecue like Memphis boasts. And no, Mrs. Andre Prince, allegedly seeking revenge on her husband, didn’t invent her notorious hot chicken here, and there aren’t many honky-tonk or pedal tavern shenanigans to indulge in like in Nashville.

Chattanooga jigs and bops to the rhythm of its own fiddle. The city has cultivated its very own brand of eclectic, outdoorsy panache and has slowly but surely nudged its gastro-identity past Moon Pies and Little Debbie snacks. There are now plenty of excellent dining options around every bend of this gorgeous city, from quirky cocktail dens to classic meat-and-threes, and if you ask the right local — some good, stiff moonshine too.

If you’re looking for more restaurants worth leaving Nashville for, here are 18 within driving distance.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Easy Bistro & Bar

Copy Link

Chef Erik Niel didn't invent the charcuterie board, but he definitely made every establishment in the city step up their game. It is always special when Main Street Meat’s pâté shows up alongside manchego cheese imported from Spain, but the bistro’s secret weapon is its impeccable oyster selection that puts any raw bar to shame.

Easy Bistro patio seating.
Easy Bistro

Pickle Barrel

Copy Link

Pickle Barrel is arguably Chattanooga’s most iconic pub, located in a historic flatiron building smack in the middle of City Center. Despite the dive bar vibe, don’t overlook the food — it’s extremely solid. With surprisingly clean bathrooms and a great people-watching roof deck, not much has changed here over the years except for it becoming non-smoking, and that’s a good thing.

Shutterstock

Community Pie

Copy Link

This pizzeria in Miller Plaza is essential as essential gets. Its Neapolitan style is super light with crispy, bubbly edges, as it should be. Set your mouth on fire with the ‘spicy Bianca’ topped with fresh mozzarella, ricotta Pecorino Romano, olive oil, garlic, and Calabrian chiles, then put that fire out with a scoop or two of handcrafted pistachio gelato.

Inside Community Pie.
Community Pie

Two Ten Jack

Copy Link

Deep down in the cavernous basement of Warehouse Row, there’s a Japanese-style izakaya with skewers of flame-kissed scallops (yakitori hotate) and tonkotsu ramen that can hold its own against any bowl from Newport Beach to New York City. Start things off with the takoyaki — just think of them as fancy octopus hushpuppies, served with a side of miso butter.

Lil Mama's Chicago Style Hoagy

Copy Link

No, you didn't fall asleep and wake up in the intro of The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, but with loud pink and green graffiti and gold thrones, that’s exactly the nostalgic swagger owner Tiffany Pauldon-Banks curated at Lil Mama’s. Undoubtedly the last thing you imagined you’d be eating in Chattanooga would be a Chicago-style hoagie, but it’s one of best things between two slices of bread in the 423.

Blue Orleans | Seafood Restaurant

Copy Link

Hurricane Katrina forced chef Mike to leave New Orleans and reach the corner of Market and Main Street in Chattanooga. Now, there are a million places outside of the Big Easy selling gator bites and shrimp po’ boys, claiming it’s Creole — but this place is undoubtedly the real deal. If nothing else, be sure to order both the gumbo and crawfish etouffee.

Shutterstock

St. John's Restaurant

Copy Link

St. John’s radiates sophistication. There’s a mix of moguls cutting through Flat-Iron wagyu as they finalize power moves and folk celebrating their anniversary or graduating from law school with cocktails crafted with local whiskey and creme de violette — and yourself, should you choose to get fancy, adhere to the dress code and indulge in Chattanooga’s go-to example of fine dining.

Whitebird

Copy Link

The feeling is light and airy, easy and breezy, but the mission here is serious: Whitebird aims to elevate Appalachian cuisine from its often misunderstood ‘podunk’ status to something a little more polished and pretty. Think venison but with rosemary, labneh, and green tomato chow-chow or buttermilk fried quail with Szechuan sauce — all sourced from the Tennessee River Valley and enjoyed from tables overlooking the river.

Inside Whitebird.
Whitebird

Zarzour's

Copy Link

You know a place is something special when they list cottage cheese and peaches on the menu as “vegetable options.” At Zarzour’s, the word “old-fashioned” is an understatement, as Abraham “Charlie” Zarzour immigrated from Lebanon in 1918, and 104 years later his restaurant is still churning out its coveted cheeseburgers, chicken and dumplings, plus plenty of other greasy spoon delights.

Shutterstock

Main Street Meats

Copy Link

In 2013, James Beard award-nominated chef Erik Niel created a carnivore’s paradise via sandwiches packed with house-cured Coppa ham, liverwurst, and chowchow. This is Tennessee, so please dabble in Main Street Meats’ mile-long whiskey list (over 280), and don’t forget to ask the butcher for a few beautifully marbled ribeyes to bring home to show off at your next cookout. 

Flying Squirrel

Copy Link

This quirky hotspot in Chattanooga’s Southside neighborhood is where techies and hipsters have babbled about gigabytes and kombucha for close to a decade now. Whether you pedal up on a fixed gear bike or pull up in an Uber, come hungry for a progressive menu featuring pork belly sisig and of course, pints of craft beer (the saison from Wild Heaven, perhaps?).

Taqueria Jalisco Ania

Copy Link

Maria and Jose Parra started out in 2005 slinging tacos out of a food truck throughout the streets of the Southside. Now, their chic storefront Taco Jalisco Ania has the most stellar cache of mezcal, huevos ranchero for brunch, and is one of the swankiest taquerias to ever serve tostadas tinga.

Proof Bar and Incubator

Copy Link

As the name suggests, “Proof” is a bar; in fact, it’s a cocktail wonderland with bartenders performing alchemy on drinks made with bubble-gum-infused vodka, dill-infused gin, or house-smoked pineapple bitters. The “Incubator” is where chefs-in-resident are given the opportunity to hone their craft, so the menu can range from chef Kenyatta Ashford’s West African Red Red with coconut rice to pineapple-banana hummingbird cake by Mrs. Kendra Elmz. Desserts are always a standout.

Memo's Grill

Copy Link

This is one of the places Samuel L. Jackson would always stop to eat on trips back to his hometown. Since opening in 1966, Memo’s Grill has been a mainstay in Chattanooga’s black community. The locals will probably suggest the chopped Weiner plate or the chicken wings “fried hard.”

Champy's

Copy Link

Where else can one find fresh tamales, crawfish (in season), and some of the best crispy fried chicken earth has to offer — all under one roof? Champy’s is the only answer. The aesthetics takes diners back to the back roads of the Mississippi Delta, and they even have koozies to keep that 40-ounce bottle of Miller High Life nice and chilly.

Uncle Larry's Restaurant

Copy Link

Larry Torrence said it himself: he’s the “designated fish fryer” at his family reunions — and that should tell you everything you need to know. His first location on MLK Boulevard couldn’t handle the demand for his perfectly seasoned, breaded, and fried catfish, tilapia, and whiting, so he opened two additional locations in the city for easy fried fish access for all his fans.

The Rosecomb

Copy Link

Newcomer the Rosecomb is already a favorite for modern versions of Southern cookout favorites like pimiento cheese and fried catfish, and even more centrally, excellent cocktails. Set in a 1920’s cottage in the historic Riverview neighborhood, the vibe is intimate and homey, with walls and surfaces dotted with antique, quirky touches. Outside, it feels more like a friend’s summer backyard party than a restaurant, in a good way. It’s 21+ only, even at Sunday brunch.

Bea's Restaurant

Copy Link

In the shadows of Lookout Mountain is the down-home country cooking this part of America is famous for. Open since 1950, Bea’s is a buffet, but you don't have to leave your seat to pile that plate with third and fourth helpings. At Bea’s, there’s a lazy susan in the middle of the table — and it’s a culinary carousel of fried chicken, peach cobbler, and potato salad right in arm’s reach.

Bea’s Restaurant/Facebook

Sugar's Ribs

Copy Link

Perched on a hill overlooking the city, Sugar’s Ribs has made the bold claim of having the best barbecue in Chattanooga. These slabs of ribs that purists go gaga over are wood-fired on a grill invented by the owner — and the results are a pleasant duet of crunch and tenderness. There are six different sauces to choose from here. Oh, and bring a bib.

Herman's Soul Food & Catering

Copy Link

Just about every Southern city has its quintessential soul food spot, and Herman’s is just that in Chattanooga. Here, the smoked ham hocks are the size of a heavyweight boxer’s fist, while the rest of the menu is filled with dishes that harken back to those Sunday dinners at your Granny’s house after church.

Easy Bistro & Bar

Easy Bistro patio seating.
Easy Bistro

Chef Erik Niel didn't invent the charcuterie board, but he definitely made every establishment in the city step up their game. It is always special when Main Street Meat’s pâté shows up alongside manchego cheese imported from Spain, but the bistro’s secret weapon is its impeccable oyster selection that puts any raw bar to shame.

Easy Bistro patio seating.
Easy Bistro

Pickle Barrel

Shutterstock

Pickle Barrel is arguably Chattanooga’s most iconic pub, located in a historic flatiron building smack in the middle of City Center. Despite the dive bar vibe, don’t overlook the food — it’s extremely solid. With surprisingly clean bathrooms and a great people-watching roof deck, not much has changed here over the years except for it becoming non-smoking, and that’s a good thing.

Shutterstock

Community Pie

Inside Community Pie.
Community Pie

This pizzeria in Miller Plaza is essential as essential gets. Its Neapolitan style is super light with crispy, bubbly edges, as it should be. Set your mouth on fire with the ‘spicy Bianca’ topped with fresh mozzarella, ricotta Pecorino Romano, olive oil, garlic, and Calabrian chiles, then put that fire out with a scoop or two of handcrafted pistachio gelato.

Inside Community Pie.
Community Pie

Two Ten Jack

Deep down in the cavernous basement of Warehouse Row, there’s a Japanese-style izakaya with skewers of flame-kissed scallops (yakitori hotate) and tonkotsu ramen that can hold its own against any bowl from Newport Beach to New York City. Start things off with the takoyaki — just think of them as fancy octopus hushpuppies, served with a side of miso butter.

Lil Mama's Chicago Style Hoagy

No, you didn't fall asleep and wake up in the intro of The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, but with loud pink and green graffiti and gold thrones, that’s exactly the nostalgic swagger owner Tiffany Pauldon-Banks curated at Lil Mama’s. Undoubtedly the last thing you imagined you’d be eating in Chattanooga would be a Chicago-style hoagie, but it’s one of best things between two slices of bread in the 423.

Blue Orleans | Seafood Restaurant

Shutterstock

Hurricane Katrina forced chef Mike to leave New Orleans and reach the corner of Market and Main Street in Chattanooga. Now, there are a million places outside of the Big Easy selling gator bites and shrimp po’ boys, claiming it’s Creole — but this place is undoubtedly the real deal. If nothing else, be sure to order both the gumbo and crawfish etouffee.

Shutterstock

St. John's Restaurant

St. John’s radiates sophistication. There’s a mix of moguls cutting through Flat-Iron wagyu as they finalize power moves and folk celebrating their anniversary or graduating from law school with cocktails crafted with local whiskey and creme de violette — and yourself, should you choose to get fancy, adhere to the dress code and indulge in Chattanooga’s go-to example of fine dining.

Whitebird

Inside Whitebird.
Whitebird

The feeling is light and airy, easy and breezy, but the mission here is serious: Whitebird aims to elevate Appalachian cuisine from its often misunderstood ‘podunk’ status to something a little more polished and pretty. Think venison but with rosemary, labneh, and green tomato chow-chow or buttermilk fried quail with Szechuan sauce — all sourced from the Tennessee River Valley and enjoyed from tables overlooking the river.

Inside Whitebird.
Whitebird

Zarzour's

Shutterstock

You know a place is something special when they list cottage cheese and peaches on the menu as “vegetable options.” At Zarzour’s, the word “old-fashioned” is an understatement, as Abraham “Charlie” Zarzour immigrated from Lebanon in 1918, and 104 years later his restaurant is still churning out its coveted cheeseburgers, chicken and dumplings, plus plenty of other greasy spoon delights.

Shutterstock

Main Street Meats

In 2013, James Beard award-nominated chef Erik Niel created a carnivore’s paradise via sandwiches packed with house-cured Coppa ham, liverwurst, and chowchow. This is Tennessee, so please dabble in Main Street Meats’ mile-long whiskey list (over 280), and don’t forget to ask the butcher for a few beautifully marbled ribeyes to bring home to show off at your next cookout. 

Flying Squirrel

This quirky hotspot in Chattanooga’s Southside neighborhood is where techies and hipsters have babbled about gigabytes and kombucha for close to a decade now. Whether you pedal up on a fixed gear bike or pull up in an Uber, come hungry for a progressive menu featuring pork belly sisig and of course, pints of craft beer (the saison from Wild Heaven, perhaps?).

Taqueria Jalisco Ania

Maria and Jose Parra started out in 2005 slinging tacos out of a food truck throughout the streets of the Southside. Now, their chic storefront Taco Jalisco Ania has the most stellar cache of mezcal, huevos ranchero for brunch, and is one of the swankiest taquerias to ever serve tostadas tinga.

Proof Bar and Incubator

As the name suggests, “Proof” is a bar; in fact, it’s a cocktail wonderland with bartenders performing alchemy on drinks made with bubble-gum-infused vodka, dill-infused gin, or house-smoked pineapple bitters. The “Incubator” is where chefs-in-resident are given the opportunity to hone their craft, so the menu can range from chef Kenyatta Ashford’s West African Red Red with coconut rice to pineapple-banana hummingbird cake by Mrs. Kendra Elmz. Desserts are always a standout.

Memo's Grill

This is one of the places Samuel L. Jackson would always stop to eat on trips back to his hometown. Since opening in 1966, Memo’s Grill has been a mainstay in Chattanooga’s black community. The locals will probably suggest the chopped Weiner plate or the chicken wings “fried hard.”

Champy's

Where else can one find fresh tamales, crawfish (in season), and some of the best crispy fried chicken earth has to offer — all under one roof? Champy’s is the only answer. The aesthetics takes diners back to the back roads of the Mississippi Delta, and they even have koozies to keep that 40-ounce bottle of Miller High Life nice and chilly.

Related Maps

Uncle Larry's Restaurant

Larry Torrence said it himself: he’s the “designated fish fryer” at his family reunions — and that should tell you everything you need to know. His first location on MLK Boulevard couldn’t handle the demand for his perfectly seasoned, breaded, and fried catfish, tilapia, and whiting, so he opened two additional locations in the city for easy fried fish access for all his fans.

The Rosecomb

Newcomer the Rosecomb is already a favorite for modern versions of Southern cookout favorites like pimiento c