Beyond Fried Green Tomatoes: Where to Eat in Chattanooga

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Dish of brussel sprouts on the table at Hello Monty, one of the places to eat in Chattanooga.
There are lots of great places to eat in Chattanooga but don’t miss the Brussel sprouts at Hello Monty. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

I recently visited Chattanooga, Tennessee for the first time. It was a short visit but I’m already ready to go back. I drove through this lovely city on the Tennessee River on my way to other places in the Southeast and this time, I stopped. There’s more to love about Chattanooga besides the food scene but the food scene offers a lot to love. I was only in town for three days so I did leave some stones unturned but here’s a solid starting list of where to eat in Chattanooga.

Don’t be tempted to think all the restaurant options in Chattanooga are about southern food, fried chicken, or BBQ. Chattanooga has a diverse food scene from cute places to get salads and sandwiches to fine dining. Here’s a list of the best restaurants in Chattanooga.

Chattanooga Food Stories

Modern southern fare is so much more than just fried catfish and biscuits. Chefs from all over the country have made their home in Chattanooga. Kitchens all over the city have influences from Nashville, New Orleans, New York, and more.

From Mexican food to gelato, you’ll find a wide variety of palate-pleasing dishes. And, the traditional southern food you love is still here, too. Sometimes with a fresh and unexpected twist.

Fried green tomatoes at STIR, one of the places to eat in Chattanooga.
Fried green tomatoes but with a twist. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

Getting around downtown Chattanooga

Most of the places on my list are downtown or a short drive from downtown. I found downtown Chattanooga to be very walkable. Expect to pay for parking. The upside to that is that parking lots and street parking are easy to find.

There’s also a free electric shuttle that winds through downtown. The shuttles are clean and comfortable but I found them to be slower than their posted schedule indicated so make sure you’re allowing plenty of time if you’ve got reservations.

This elegant chop house inside the Read House Hotel is one of the locals’ favorite places to eat in Chattanooga.
The servers at Bridgeman’s Chop House are dressed to the nines but guests can be more casual. Photo credit: Visit Chattanooga.

Bridgeman’s Chophouse

Located inside the Read House Hotel, Bridgeman’s Chophouse is a classic, upscale chophouse serving an extensive selection of steaks, pork chops, seafood, and more. The vibe of Bridgeman’s is elegant but this is a place you can visit in jeans.

Bridgeman’s Chophouse was named after the restaurant’s most well-known employee, Peter Bridgeman. The historic Read House, known by a handful of other names, has been standing since 1872, so the building has a lot of history.

Salmon topped with a seared sea scallop from Bridgeman’s Chop House inside the Read House Hotel, one of the places to eat in Chattanooga.
Salmon topped with a seared sea scallop from Bridgeman’s Chop House inside the Read House Hotel. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

What to order

Most of Bridgeman’s starters are seafood based and they have a large selection of raw and chilled seafood. This is a place to splurge on a good steak, if you’re in the mood for that. Bridgeman’s has a variety of cuts of both wet and dry aged beef.

I chose oven-roasted Scottish salmon with roasted red pepper couscous, wilted arugula and champagne beurre blanc. I also chose to add a seared scallop. It was flavorful and light and just perfect on a night when I didn’t want to feel too full.

Bridgeman’s also has an extensive wine list and a full bar.

Hello Monty’s beer and food is on the list of places to eat in Chattanooga.
Hello Monty brews their own beer and is a local Chattanooga favorite. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

Hello Monty

Hello Monty on Walnut Street, is where the locals go for lunch and dinner. If you’re a beer lover, this is a must-try, and if you’re not a beer lover, the food stands on its own. This popular Southside family-owned eatery has something for all appetites.

The menu can best be described as elevated American with a nod to southern fare. Local favorites include cast iron beer cheese dip, the Monty Burger (Chef’s pick) and pretty much anything from the shareables menu. The beer served at Hello Mony is brewed in house.

Hello Monty is one of the best places to eat in Chattanooga.
Tomato toast from Hello Monty has goat cheese, locally raised country ham, and of course, tomatoes. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

What to order

I was lucky enough to get a sampling of Hello Monty’s chef’s picks. Hearty shareables that could make a light meal include crispy Brussel sprouts, blistered tomato toast, and shrimp on a skewer. The dinner menu has a few more options, to including a roasted chicken that’s served deboned with the wing.

My favorite thing about Hello Monty was the open, airy atmosphere and the open kitchen that’s visible behind a large glass window. The unique thing about Hello Monty is their cooking method and how they use open fire in their indoor kitchen to produce so many tasty and creative dishes. My overall favorite was the crispy Brussel sprouts shareable with the charred lemon aioli. The tomato toast comes in at a close second, which I found interesting because I’m not normally a fan of goat cheese.

Put Wooden City in downtown on your list of places to eat in Chattanooga.
Wooden City is located in the heart of downtown, walkable from the Tennessee Aquarium and most of the city’s museums. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

Wooden City

I’ll preface my description of Wooden City to say that this was the absolute best meal I had in Chattanooga. All of my meals were top notch, especially my dinners, but this one was extra special. Located in the heart of downtown near the riverfront, Wooden City serves  seasonal burrata, gourmet sandwiches, wood fired pizza, and house favorites like Lamb Bolognese and Beet Ravioli. They also have an extensive craft cocktail menu.

The atmosphere is open, urban, and fun. Guests have a full view of the open kitchen and can watch the wood-fired pizzas being made.

One of the best places to eat in Chattanooga is the Wooden City restaurant downtown.
The blistered Hungarian pepper appetizer at Wooden City was my favorite thing I ate in Chattanooga. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

What to order

I had the blistered Hungarian peppers appetizer and the braised brisket main. I’d had a light lunch and I was starving so I went for hearty. The braised brisket was good but if I could have a do-over, I’d have ordered a double of the Hungarian peppers. Only slightly spicy, these stuffed peppers have a creamy, cheesy filling with Italian sausage and are drizzled with basil oil.

The brisket in my main course was pretty fatty. I know a lot of people love their brisket that way because it makes the meat tender, but I wasn’t a fan. However, the polenta and veggies that accompanied the dish were A+ and I would order just that next time.

Menu at Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe|Places to eat in Chattanooga
The Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe is a bit of a hole in the wall and very casual, as you’d expect a picnic cafe to be. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe

The Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe is a great place to grab a casual lunch, either eat in or to-go, in conjunction with a visit to the many attractions in the Lookout Mountain area. I stopped in for a quick bite after a morning exploring Rock City. It’s got a bit of a hole-in-the-wall vibe but it’s cute and cozy and the service is great.

The Purple Daisy Picnic cafe is a place to eat in Chattanooga convenient to Lookout Mountain.
The three-layer Rainbow Sandwich at the Purple Daisy Picnic Cafe. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

What to order

The Purple Daisy has a variety of BBQ plates and sandwiches but you’re cheating yourself if you don’t order their famous rainbow sandwich. Made with both white and wheat bread with the crusts cut off, the rainbow sandwich has layers of pimento cheese, homemade chicken salad, and cucumber spread.

I thought all of those different flavors, which I like individually, would be weird but something about the combo just works.

Places to eat in Chattanooga include STIR and lots of other fun places inside the Chattanooga Choo Choo.
STIR is just one of the fun places inside the Chattanooga Choo Choo. Photo credit: Jill Robbins


STIR is a modern restaurant with an urban aesthetic that sits among the historic remnants of the iconic Chattanooga Choo Choo Terminal Station. Being in this part of the city is a whole vibe and a foodie paradise so make sure you schedule some time to look around and really soak in the atmosphere and really soak in the atmosphere, people watch, and take in live music.

Cocktails at STIR|Places to eat in Chattanooga.
If artisanal, house made ice is your jam, go grab a cocktail at STIR. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

STIR is known for their elevated cocktails made with artisanal, house-made ice. They have separate brunch, lunch, and dinner menus, featuring an extensive list of raw bar items, appetizers, burgers and sandwiches, and classic southern comfort food such as shrimp and grits.

STIR is a great place to indulge in fresh food when you’re trying to eat healthy, clean, gluten-free, or plant-based. They have a list of salads and a lot of fresh bowls, to include a poke bowl.

One of the places to eat in Chattanooga is in the iconic Chattanooga Choo Choo, STIR.
Fried Green Tomatoes at STIR can make a light meal if you don’t want something super-filling. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

What to order

I had the fried green tomato appetizer and the veggie chopped salad with a filet of salmon add-on. The fried green tomatoes are deliciously unique, topped with pimento cheese, green tomato relish, and cotija cheese. It was a fun twist on the traditional southern side. My salad was big enough for at least two people and the addition of chickpeas made it super hearty.

Fun fact: Open containers are allowed on adjacent Station Street – just make sure to purchase your drinks from STIR or one of the other restaurants.

Coffee Shops

If you’re looking to grab your morning coffee and a quick bite, the following spots in Chattanooga can get you caffeinated and on your way.

This list of places to eat in Chattanooga wouldn’t be complete without recommendations on where to get coffee.
Dawn is located inside the Bode Hotel. Photo credit: Jill Robbins


Dawn is located inside the lobby of the Bode Hotel, along with the accompanying bar side, Dusk. Featuring a wide open space with bookshelves, games, and cute picture-snapping spots, Dawn has coffee, smoothies, and a small selection of pastry-type items.

There’s a small food menu at Sleepyheads|Food in Chattanooga.
Coffee and vegan donut at Sleepyhead Coffee. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

Sleepyhead Coffee

Sleepyhead serves coffee and a small selection of vegan pastry. Order from the walkup counter and if you want to sit and eat versus take your goodies to go, there’s an adjacent seating area, filled with plants.

Peet’s Coffee is one of the places to eat in Chattanooga where you can get quick breakfast and snack items.
Peet’s Coffee is a warm, fun place to eat in Chattanooga. Can you tell I like donuts? Photo credit: Jill Robbins

Peet’s Coffee

While Peet’s Coffee is a national franchise, their downtown Chattanooga location has a ton of local charm and flavor.

Places to eat in Chattanooga include Starbucks where you can get ready made pastries and sandwiches.
There’s a Starbucks inside the Read House Hotel, where I stayed. Photo credit: Visit Chattanooga.


If it’s not a morning without this famous coffee franchise, there’s a location inside the lobby of the Read House Hotel. If you’re not staying at the Read House, grabbing your coffee here is a good excuse to look around the lobby.

Beverage and magazine on table at the Naughty Cat Cafe, one of the places to eat in Chattanooga.
Entrance into the Naughty Cat Cafe includes a beverage. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

Naughty Cat Cafe

The Naughty Cat Cafe (the sign out front assures, or perhaps warns that this establishment isn’t a strip club) and is a completely unique coffee experience for true cat lovers. Reservations are required and guests will pay $13 to spend an hour with 30+ very spoiled felines. Guests must be 11 or older. A nonalcoholic beverage is included with admission. Beer and baked goods are available for an extra fee.

Reservations are required as this is a popular spot. All the cats are available for adoption and the cafe owners are fantastic and helpful.

Places to eat and drink in Chattanooga|Wooden City
I may not have experienced Chattanooga’s nightlife bar scene but I did treat myself to an Espresso Martini at Wooden City. Photo credit: Jill Robbins


I did not experience the Chattanooga cocktail bar scene but here are some local spots recommended by bartenders I have on my list for next time.

  • American Draft – If you want to have craft beer in an old train car, this is your place.
  • Chattanooga Whiskey
  • Dusk (Dusk is the counterpart to a.m. coffee shop Dawn and visitors can explore the space during the day when the bar is not open.)
  • Whiskey Thief
List of where to eat in Chattanooga includes cocktails and bars.
Dusk is Dawn’s counterpart. They’re in the same space but they’re not open at the same time. Photo credit: Jill Robbins

Still on my list of Chattanooga Restaurants to try

Here’s a selection of places I wanted to eat and didn’t get to during my three-day visit.

  • Paloma Bar de Tapas
  • Community Pie
  • 1885
  • Main Street Meats – this restaurant and butcher shop was on just about everyone’s list.
  • Flying Squirrel Bar
  • Bluegrass Grill
  • St John’s Restaurant
  • 423 Taco
  • Urban Stack
  • Easy Bistro & Bar
  • Public House Restaurant in Warehouse Row
  • Whitebird
This list of where to eat in Chattanooga includes places inside the Read House Hotel, which anyone can go to.
The historic Read House Hotel is the oldest continuously operating hotel in the Southeast. Photo credit: Visit Chattanooga.

Where to stay in Chattanooga

I stayed at the Read House Hotel which is located in downtown Chattanooga. Most of the places I’ve listed on my picks for where to eat in Chattanooga are located within walking distance of the Read House. I loved the location and the elegant 1920s vibe of the hotel. There’s a valet stationed by the front entrance who tips his hat to guests as they enter the lobby, which really sets the tone for your stay.

Places to eat in Chattanooga, places to drink in Chattanooga, Read House Bar & Billiards.
You don’t have to stay at the Read House Hotel to have a drink at the bar. Photo credit: Visit Chattanooga

The starting prices of rooms fluctuate seasonally and by day of the week but you can get a single queen room for around $245 on a weekend most of the year (2023 pricing). It feels much more expensive.

Other Chattanooga hotels I’d consider staying at are the Bode Hotel and the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel.

Jill Robbins is a freelance writer covering lifestyle, travel, health, and commerce. Her writing has appeared in SheKnows, HuffPost, Tripsavvy, Insider, AARP, and other publications. Jill lives in San Antonio with her husband and two youngest kids, although she’s usually somewhere else. You can find out what Jill is up to by reading her blog, Ripped Jeans and Bifocals.
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