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.
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.
9:30 a.m. breakfast at the Daily Ration
1220 Dartmouth Street
A popular spot for breakfast and brunch with both locals and tourists, the Daily Ration resides inside an old gas station in north Chattanooga. Open daily starting at 7 a.m., come here for everything from raspberry peach flapjacks, fried chicken and waffles, and hearty breakfast bowls to steak and eggs, spicy chicken biscuits, and sausage and egg burritos. Pair breakfast with cold brew coffee, daily latte specials like honey rose matcha, or even a mimosa or another brunchy cocktail.
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.
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.
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.
7 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.
10 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.
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.