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Aerial view of downtown Chattanooga, TN, during the late afternoon. Shutterstock

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Take a 24-Hour Food Tour Through Historic Chattanooga, Tennessee

From coffee and a whiskey tasting to Southern snacks and cocktails and modern takes on Appalachian cuisine at dinner

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Located about two hours north of Atlanta along the Tennessee River in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Chattanooga is a choice destination for Atlantans seeking a quick weekend getaway, where outdoor activities and dining and drinking are top priorities.

This pretty little riverfront city packs a serious punch when it comes to things to do, too, including the Chattanooga Choo Choo Terminal Train Station, Bessie Smith Cultural Center, Tennessee Aquarium, and Hunter Museum of American Art. There’s an incline railway that takes passengers up to scenic Lookout Mountain to visit Ruby Falls and Rock City high above the city center, sightseeing riverboat cruises along the Tennessee, and opportunities to kayak or hike nearby trails offering breathtaking views of Chattanooga and beyond.

Chattanooga is an active and vibrant city which just so happens to feature a burgeoning restaurant and bar scene catering to locals, college students, and tourists year round. Eater compiled this guide to how one could spend 24 hours eating and drinking while exploring the historic city of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

A early morning view from Signal Point overlooking the Tennessee River below in the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park on Signal Mountain.
Hike up to Signal Point at the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park on Signal Mountain.
Shutterstock
Lover’s Leap at Rock City on Lookout Mountain above Chattanooga Tennesee.
Lover’s Leap at Lookout Mountain.
Shutterstock
The Tennessee Aquarium is home to more than 12,000 animals in Chattanooga.
The Tennessee Aquarium is home to more than 12,000 animals.
Shutterstock
An evening riverboat cruises slowly travels down the Tennessee River past Chattanooga.
Day and evening riverboat cruises offer people the chance to see Chattanooga from a different vantage point.
Shutterstock

8 a.m. coffee at Velo Coffee

509 East Main Street

Kick off the morning with a seriously good cup of coffee at this industry haunt in the Southside neighborhood. It’s the spot for espresso and cold brew lovers and to grab occasional coffee specials like an affogato made with sweet cream or dairy-free chocolate ice cream. There’s a small selection of baked goods in the morning from Chattanooga bakery Bread and Butter, as well as bags of Velo’s beans for sale.

Morning cup alternatives: Sleepyhead Coffee in the James Building on Broad Street and Stone Cup Cafe with views of Walnut Street pedestrian bridge.

A cup of black coffee sits beside a personal sized refill kettle of coffee from Velo in Chattanooga. Velo Coffee Roasters
Three cold brew drinks from Velo Coffee in Chattanooga: Channel Orange; Garden Party with yuzu and butterfly pea tea; and rosemary lime espresso. Velo Coffee

9:30 a.m. breakfast at Syrup and Eggs

107 Custom Street

Owned by chef Ocia Hartley, Syrup and Eggs is where folks should head for plenty of pancakes paired with coffee and brunch cocktails. Expect pancake stacks topped with blueberry compote and hazelnut streusel, cardamon-scent pancakes served with sweet peaches, and even a sourdough pancake grilled cheese on the menu here. Other breakfast fare includes biscuit sandwiches, quiche, and breakfast fries tossed with cheese and sausage topped with a sunny egg.

Breakfast alternatives: Daily Ration on Dartmouth Street, Bluegrass Grill on East Main (vegan and gluten-free options), and Eggman Bagelry at Five Wits Brewing on Long Street.

Strawberry-rhubarb pancakes.
Strawberry-rhubarb pancakes.
Syrup and Eggs
Sourdough pancake grilled cheese with tomato basil salad.
Sourdough pancake grilled cheese with tomato basil salad.
Syrup and Eggs

12:00 p.m. lunch at Main Street Meats

217 East Main Street

More than just a Southside neighborhood butcher shop, Main Street Meats from chef Erik Niel features a menu packed with hearty sandwiches, like a meatball sub with tomato jam, giardiniera, and white cheddar, beefy burgers, steak plates, and daily charcuterie and cheese boards. Order a cocktail like the draft Old Fashioned, beer, or glass of wine and settle in for top-notch fare at lunch or dinner.

Lunch alternatives : Zarzour’s Cafe on Rossville Avenue for cheeseburgers and Southern diner fare and Bea’s Restaurant for a Southern-style buffet near Lookout Mountain.

2:30 p.m. tasting at Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery

1439 Market Street

One can’t come to Tennessee and not partake in a whiskey tasting, right? Take a one-hour tour of this experiential distillery in downtown Chattanooga — the first distillery to produce whiskey in the city in 100 years when it did so in 2015. The tour comes with a tasting, too. Afterwards, grab a cocktail in the tasting room and a bottle or two of whiskey for the home bar.

Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery
Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Distillery

5 p.m. drinks and snacks at the Rosecomb

921 Barton Avenue

Located in a converted 1920s cottage in the Riverview neighborhood, the Rosecomb is a popular spot for cozy date nights over shared plates and wine or a cocktail before dinner, while indulging in Southern snacks like pimento cheese, fried peanuts, and deviled eggs. If the weather is pleasant, find a seat on the garden patio for an evening of drinks and bites or Sunday brunch with friends on a sunny afternoon.

The Rosecomb
Pimento cheese and toasties.
Pimento cheese and toasties.
The Rosecomb

6:30 p.m. dinner at Whitebird

102 Walnut Street

Step off of the Walnut Street pedestrian bridge and into Whitebird at the Edwin Hotel, a restaurant serving modern takes on Appalachian cuisine. Using ingredients, recipes, and cooking techniques from around the region, order cast iron beer cheese crab dip made with jumbo blue crab and buttermilk biscuits served with fresh-made jam and marmalade and molasses honey butter to start. Refresh the palate with sweet pepper crudo tossed in apricot dressing and topped with paddlefish caviar and fried coriander seeds. Next, dine on butter roasted freshwater trout garnished with Benton’s bacon and white bean ragout. There’s white chocolate raspberry sponge cake topped with hazelnut crunch and whipped cream for dessert. Stick to classic cocktails here, including the martini and barrel-aged Old Fashioned.

Dinner alternatives: Two Ten Jack izakaya, takoyaki, and ramen bar on Warehouse Row or Flying Squirrel in the Southside neighborhood for beer, wine, and cocktails paired seasonal vegetable dishes and entrees of salmon tataki and spicy korean “candy” chicken.

Whitebird
Housemade jams and marmalades and smoked sorghum butter from Whitebird in Chattanooga, TN.
Housemade jams and marmalades and smoked sorghum butter.
Whitebird

8:30 p.m. after-dinner drinks and dessert at Proof Bar and Incubator

422 East Martin Luther King Boulevard

This imaginative cocktail bar also doubles as a restaurant incubator for roving Chattanooga chefs to get creative in the kitchen. The bar features a healthy number of classics on the menu, like the Aviation, Jungle Bird, and Last Word, along with original concoctions such as the Puddle Jumper made with Junipero Gin, creme de violette, lemon juice, velvet falernum, and Japanese chili lime bitters from Atlanta-based 18.21 Bitters. Not into cocktails? Proof also serves beer, wine, hard seltzer, and non-alcoholic drinks. Snack on something from the chef incubator menu or order dessert, including Myer lemon cake and chocolate cherry devil’s food cake.

Proof Bar and Incubator

11 p.m. late-night cocktail at No Hard Feelings

806 Broad Street

Stroll through the garage door, which serves as the entrance to this Center City bar, for cocktails like the Hot Tropic made with tequila, Aperol, ginger, and pineapple or a Cream Soda Old Fashioned mixing 100-proof bourbon with a cream soda reduction and Angostura bitters. Don’t be fooled by the cheeky cocktail names on the menu, because these drinks are serious and solid, made even more enjoyable by the bar’s hip vibe and eclectic musical selection. No Hard Feelings also features a daily happy hour, starting at 5 p.m.

No Hard Feelings
No Hard Feelings

8:00 a.m. coffee and a bready breakfast at Niedlov’s Cafe and Bakery

215 East Main Street; closed Sundays

Before heading back to Atlanta, pop over to Niedlov’s Cafe and Bakery in the Southside neighborhood for a bready breakfast and that all-important cup of coffee. Order the buttermilk-battered fried chicken biscuit with honeyed hot sauce or the bagel sandwich topped with cheddar cheese, scrambled eggs, bacon, and sriracha aioli. The quiche of the day is always a great choice. Be sure to grab a cinnamon and orange morning bun or a gruyere bacon scone for the road, too. All of the breads and baked goods for sale here are made from scratch daily at the bakery, starting at 4 a.m.

Bagels and lox on an everything bagel from Niedlov’s Cafe and Bakery in Chattanooga.
Bagels and lox on an everything bagel.
Niedlov’s Cafe and Bakery
Honeyed fried chicken sandwich from Niedlov’s Cafe and Bakery in Chattanooga.
Honeyed fried chicken sandwich.
Niedlov’s Cafe and Bakery

Proof Bar and Incubator

422 East Martin Luther King Boulevard, , TN 37403 (423) 541-6858 Visit Website

The Rosecomb

921 Barton Avenue, , TN 37405 (423) 541-9314 Visit Website

Whitebird

102 Walnut Street, , TN 37403 (423) 269-8539 Visit Website

Main Street Meats

217 East Main Street, , TN 37408 (423) 602-9568 Visit Website

Flying Squirrel

55 Johnson Street, , TN 37408 (423) 602-5980 Visit Website
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