As we wandered into Downtown Chattanooga the first time, we saw a sign for the International Towing Museum, a museum which definitely sounded up our quirky alley and one we didn’t know about until then. We did not indulge this time, but that proved to be another thing to do that has put this city on a repeat visit in the future.
So you ask what else did we do? Well, a little of everything, as it turned out:
Tennessee Whiskey: Reading through the twists and turns that Chattanooga Whiskey had to go through to come to life reminded me of some of the rather wacky alcohol laws that the new wave of Ohio distilleries like Middle West Spirits and Watershed Distillery had to navigate. If you choose to, you can read the timeline here but in the meantime, let’s talk about our visit.
We were somewhat fortunate all week in terms or arrival times to various places, and this now ten-year-old distillery was no exception. Basically, it’s first come, first served – with a sample flight of whiskey the same price whether you opt for or out of the facility tour (we declined, in this case, having been on our fair share of such tours.)
The tasting room is quite beautiful, with a sit down bar and several surrounding tables (an outdoor area is also available during the warmer weather months.) Touting itself as the state’s only High Malt Whiskey, we sampled their base 91 and 111 proof base spirits, as well as a rye, a couple of their experimental barrels as well as their take on an Old Fashioned cocktail.
All the more “fancy” takes had things to recommend them, but really it was their base lineup that impressed us the most. We thought their 91 would make a great mixer, especially if you wanted to give something that you’d normally mix in vodka a little bit more of a sweet note. The 111, on the other hand, is one you enjoy neat, and it goes down very smoothly for what is a relatively young spirit.
Chattanooga Whiskey | Address: 1439 Market St, Chattanooga, TN 37402 | Website: https://chattanoogawhiskey.com | IG: Chattwhiskey
The Best Broccoli Ever? When you drop by a place named Main Street Meats, the vegetables aren’t on the forefront of your mind. Opened since 2014, this combination deli/restaurant/butcher shop focuses on whole-animal butchery and the co-owner Erik Niel’s Louisiana roots to fuel what has become a city staple.
Yes, the Gumbo I ordered was delicious, as well as my spouse’s Ham & Jam Biscuit featuring tasso ham, pepper jelly and chow chow. The Blackstrap Manhattan with NOLA Coffee Liqueur and bitters? Also lip smackingly tasty.
But it was the Charred Broccoli, with Belgian Endive, nutritional yeast and Pecan vinaigrette, a dish we ordered almost as a afterthought, that we couldn’t stop diving into. Everything about that dish was just perfect and unexpected. Even we were staring at each other, saying, “Really? Broccoli?!”
It was quite the unexpected experience, and the surprise star food dish of the entire week. Bonus points to our server for attentive service to boot.
Main Street Meats | Address: 217 E Main St, Chattanooga, TN 37408 | Website: https://www.mainstreetmeatschatt.com/| IG: Mainstreetmeats
Beware The Fire Ants! We ended up having some time to burn before the Asian Lantern Festival at the Chattanooga Zoo (discussed in the last blogpost), and luckily for us, the Sculpture Fields and Montague Park provided a swath of creativity on a chilly late afternoon.
Located on 33 acres of land on the city’s south side and free to the public, the site is a renovated brownfield that once held a dump and is the largest such site in the Southeast. It’s tempting to roam to and fro the 40 large scale sculptures at random, but as signs clearly point out, some of the park’s most smallest residents (fire ants) might perform their own “sculpture” work on parts of your body if you’re not careful where you step. Sticking to the 1.5 miles of trails that wend around the park is the safe bet here, especially as the sun sets.
Sculpture Fields at Montague Park | Address: 1800 Polk St, Chattanooga, TN, 37408 | Website: https://www.sculpturefields.org/ | IG: Sculpturefields
Mean Mug, a mini-chain of local coffee shops, has elements of some of our favorite Columbus spaces, but really this eatery, which opened in 2011, has its own winning formula of their own house roasted coffee drinks and a menu that can accommodate a number of dietary options such as vegan and paleo. The Veggie Grits Bowl balanced a nicely cheesy and very smooth grits and tofu scramble (eggs are also an option) balanced really nicely with crispy kale and other veggies. For me, it was my second favorite dish behind the broccoli at Main Street Meats…
Eggman Bagelry reminds us a bit of Columbus’s The Lox Bagel Shop, but their space is far larger, being housed inside Five Wits Brewing. The New York styled bagels we had (the Elena Ruz, with Turkey, Strawberry Preserves & Cream Cheese, and the Steak & Eggs (as described) ranked just a bit below than the creations we’ve had at The Lox, but that’s more of an honest ranking, not a complaint. Coffee was solid (Eggman uses Stumptown Coffee) and the Latkes were unique, resembling potato chip-sized hash browns…
Fountainhead Taproom mirrors a concept we first encountered at Cincinnati’s Blue Ash Brewing – self-service taps. Unlike Blue Ash, which mostly features its own brews, Fountainhead features pours from a whole host of outside breweries (many of them local) as well as ciders, meads and wines. Due to lack of staffing that day, food orders weren’t available until the evening hours, but there are plenty of restaurants nearby. Best thing for visitor, other than the variety, is the fact that you only pay for what you pour, making Fountainhead perfect for sampling without much waste. Best beer we had was a sour from the first brewery that we’ve encountered that starts with an “X” – Xul Beer out of Knoxville…
Eggman Bagelry (at Five Wits Brewing) | Address: 1501 Long St, Chattanooga, TN 37408 | Website: https://www.eggmanbagelry.com/ | IG: Eggmanbagelry
Fountainhead Taproom | Address: 1617 Rossville Ave, Chattanooga, TN 37408 | Website: https://fountainheadtaproom.com/ | IG: Fountainheadtaproom
Mean Mug (Southside) | Address: 114 W Main St, Chattanooga, TN 37408 | Website: https://www.meanmugcoffee.com/| IG: Meanmugcoffeehouse
If Columbus’s Used Kids Records and Evolved Tattoo were smushed together into either’s space, you get something like Chattanooga’s Yellow Racket Records. It’s a perfectly lovely spot to filter through some new and old vinyl, and maybe book a tattoo appointment, if you’re so inclined…Acropolis Mediterranean Grill, a Greek eatery located near Hamilton Place mall, isn’t the best Greek food we’ve ever had, but their Falafel Pita and Gyros plates proved more than satisfactory as hotel dinner eats…Speaking of which, the newly opened Element by Westin offers guest a more environmentally conscious experience with some unique amenities (a pancake/egg bar for breakfast, and a small evening bar featuring a few local brewery taps.) If you don’t feel the need to stay in Downtown Chattanooga itself, Element is a perfectly viable option for those looking for traditional lodging experience…Finally, Bollywood Tacos mirrors Columbus places like Condado and Local Cantina, with Indian-inspired tacos as their main distinguishing factor. Folks who are more good old-school Mexican taco truck style tacos won’t be fans, but if places with fancy tacos and cocktails are your jam and you don’t mind spending up to $6 per taco (for the Indian-flavor inspired tacos,) dining in at Bollywood will provide you a similar experience.