Last week Tim and I spent 5 days in Chattanooga, where I grew up. While we were there, I realized that the city has changed a whole lot since I left for college in 2003. When I was in high school there were three places my friends and I would choose from in the area we’d hang out, and every Friday or Saturday night downtown was spent at a movie at the Bijoux (which doesn’t even exist anymore…am I that old?).
There are so many new restaurants, fitness studios, boutiques, and health food stores that it made me feel like I was visiting a new place! I haven’t in the last four or five years really gone home when it wasn’t a holiday where most of the time was spent at different family member’s houses for Christmas or Thanksgiving meals. This non-holiday visit gave me the opportunity to see the city in a different light.
I wanted to share a few favorite eats that I discovered while we were there, because I’m going to do a different post about working out while traveling and what options there are. We tried three new places while we were there and also went to another new(er) place that we had been to on a previous visit.
Our first stop was at Urban Stack, which is a burger restaurant. Creative burgers seem to be the trendy thing right now, and my parents wanted to try this place they hadn’t been to before. We started with the fried garbanzo beans and pickle platter. Both were delicious, and the spicy pickled vegetables were definitely unique. What I wanted to recreate at home, though, were the garbanzo beans. I’m sure there’s a way to make them in the oven instead of a fryer.
And as though the new restaurants aren’t enough, Chattanooga has even expanded the number of local breweries it has. I got the local sampler of beers from around the Chattanooga area, and while I won’t long for any of them while I’m down here in Tampa, it was fun to try the local flavors.
I got the steakhouse burger with bacon, barbeque sauce, cheddar, and an onion ring on top, and in some attempt to be healthy went with the cucumber and black eyed pea salad on the side. I’m not sure what about the burger made me think I should worry about whether the side was healthy or not, but the burger was fantastic. I ate it all and wanted another one immediately. The side wasn’t anything special, and I wouldn’t order it again. It lacked flavor, though it might just have been overpowered by all the flavors of the burger.
For lunch one day we met up with a girlfriend from high school and her new (3.5 week old) baby. I forgot to take a picture of us or the restaurant we went to, but Taco Mamacitas is the restaurant that we had been to before, so it wasn’t new to me. I got a salad, which was delicious as always. Then, because we still had gossip to catch up on, we headed over to Milk and Honey, a gelato and coffee shop just a few doors down. I instantly fell in love. Tim got gelato, and I got a cookie and a coffee, and I talked intermitently about how I wanted to open something like it in Tampa.
It’s small and cozy with only two booths, counter seating, and an outside bench, but they serve breakfast, a brunch of sorts, and sandwiches, though most people seemed to just drop in for what they wanted and then head out again. The Americano that I had was delicious, and the thumbprint/sugar cookie was only 40 cents. They are owned by the same family that opened Burger Stack. Why weren’t these things here when I was a Chattanooga resident?
Though not a Chattanooga thing, I couldn’t resist mentioning that my mom ordered live Main lobsters to cook at home. I’m going to shock you all by saying that lobster isn’t my seafood of choice, but these were tasty; we had fun making a night of it!
I think my favorite new restaurant that we visited, though, may have been The Flying Squirrel. It’s more of a bar with food, but it’s a far cry from being “bar food”. It’s presented in a tapas style, so you get to order at least a couple things that look tasty from the menu.
I had the house ravioli, which were very good and completely made from scratch, and the bison balls, which were tasty but not served as warm as I would have preferred. I still ate all of both of the dishes. The ambiance was really low key and fun, and the building is built with a lot of glass and industrial materials. My favorite part was the beer that I had. It was the Abita Strawator, a seasonal combination of their Strawberry and Andygator, and it was delicious in every way. It may be my favorite beer of recent recollection, and I’m hoping to stumble upon it here in Tampa sometimes soon. Had we not been heading to Atlanta to catch a flight I would have had another.
We had a fabulous trip and enjoyed so much of what Chattanooga has to offer that we haven’t experience in the past. Tim noted that he really enjoyed himself, and we look forward to going to try a few of the other new restaurants and offerings that Chattanooga has come up with recently.
Do you still live in the city you grew up in? Has it changed a lot in the last few years?
When you go visit home or where you grew up do you like to try new things or go to your old favorites?