Discover great restaurants, awesome views and interesting tourist attractions.

By Jan Walsh

Kevin and I take a couple’s weekend to Chattanooga. Making better driving time (less than three hours) than expected, we arrive in time for lunch in the city—rather than on the road as we had expected. Yet this unexpected pleasure also creates a problem. I have not researched where to have lunch and quickly begin to do so on my iPad.

As we drive down Market Street, checking out the facades—formerly store fronts—of various restaurants, I also check them out online looking for their website or a dining guide with their info.  I am absolutely amazed—and thrilled by—the number of locally owned, chef driven restaurants. My luck gets even better when I chose 212 Market Restaurant, which is celebrating 19 years of local foods and green practices.

To celebrate our trip, I start with a cocktail of Citrus Pomegranatini Martini and Kevin opts for the chocolaty Nutella Martini. We both enjoy the scrumptious soup of the day—Clam Chowder, which is creamy and chock full of clams and potatoes. Our entrees of Wild Caught Shrimp and Fall’s Mill Grits and the Spinach and Walnut Ravioli are also exceptional. For dessert we share the delectable Trio Sampler of Crème Brulee, 212 Bakery Cake, and Peanut Butter Pie.

After lunch we check in at The Chattanoogan— Chattanooga’s only AAA Four Diamond-rated full-service hotel. The hotel also boasts valet parking, a lounge, two restaurants, full service spa, business center with complimentary computer and printer services, complimentary high-speed wireless Internet, and a Fitness Center with cardio equipment, indoor pool, locker rooms, steam and sauna rooms. And I relax with a custom facial at The Chattanoogan Spa. Here my esthetician uses pure and natural products with essential nutrients to gently clean, detoxify, and refresh my skin, leaving it glowing.  And we end the day with apps and handcrafted, house infused cocktails in The Foundry Lounge, where a local band performed.

We have seen Rock City and Ruby Falls, so on Saturday we have a quick breakfast at Stroud’s Sidewalk Café before heading to the Tennessee Aquarium. Stroud’s espresso, cappuccino and lattes are a match for their freshly baked jumbo muffins, Danishes, fresh fruit and organic granola parfaits. And the Tennessee Aquarium is an absolute must for kids of all ages, such as us. We enjoy Backstage Pass tickets that provide VIP access, allowing us to touch and feed the Aquarium’s animals.

Dinner at St. John’s Restaurant is another must for foodies. Chef Daniel Lindley's daily menu often has fruits and vegetables picked that morning at local farms. And on his Market Specials menu, all of the incredible dishes are made of local products, such as Griffin Farms Pumpkin Soup, Wildwood Farm’s Heirloom Tomato Salad, Baton Creek Farm’s Top Round and Braised Shoulder, Pickett’s Ranch Trout, and a Tasting of Local Apples—fried apple pie, panna cotta and Riesling poached apple. St. John's Restaurant is located in the former St. John's Hotel building. For more of Lindley’s fare, we plan to try St. John's Meeting Place on our next trip, also located in the St. John's building, along with fine retail shops and luxury apartments on the floors above.

The next morning we enjoy a fabulous Sunday Brunch at Broad Street Grill, located inside The Chattanoogan. In addition to Sunday Brunch, executive chef Matt Pinner’s incorporates local fresh produce into his seasonal cuisine in his breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. Today we have a bit of everything: Southern Eggs Benedict, rotisserie chicken, braised pork shoulder, grits, sliced bacon, breakfast sausage, fresh fruit, and more. There is also a chef manned omelet station, waffle station, and carving station with horseradish-garlic crusted beef top round. And we pair our divine feast with Champagne and Mimosas, and their make-your-own Bloody Mary Bar with over 27 toppings. Cheers to rediscovering Chattanooga!

Categories: Culinary Travels