Last week, Jim and I drove down to Tennessee for a friend’s wedding. We decided to make it a long trip and stop in Nashville on the way there, and then in Chattanooga on the way home. I’ve been to Nashville several times, but I’d never been to Chattanooga or Eastern Tennessee where the wedding was. The latter two destinations ended up being my favorites.
Don’t get me wrong; Nashville is a fun city with lots to see and eat, but Chattanooga and Eastern Tennessee are more beautiful and, frankly, relaxing. I always find myself irritated when I get to Nashville, maybe because there is a slightly faster pace and (sorry Nashvillians) no one can drive. But luckily, Eastern Tennessee and Chattanooga more than made up for the minor frustrations I endured in the center of the state.
I could go on and on about what we saw and did during our five days there, but I’ll keep my recommendations centered on food. Even though Nashville is not my favorite place, I won’t deny that their food scene is great and never disappoints. I also found some gems in Chattanooga.
Redheaded Stranger, like its name, is eclectic. It serves delicious tacos with several different fillings, and it has plenty of alcohol to boot. I probably should have gotten a frozen margarita after the five and a half hour drive down from St. Louis, but at least I got barbacoa tacos with shredded beef and cheese. We ate the tacos on the patio, where you can sit and people watch and soak up the local flavor.
I’ve followed Crema on Instagram for years, and for some reason, I thought they were in New Orleans. Luckily I realized my mistake and we went there for a mid-day pick me up coffee after lunch. I got an iced latte with mint-infused honey and it was divine. It was exactly what I needed to perk up in time for the Country Music Hall of Fame.
I had high expectations for Folk, and it did not disappoint. I heard about the restaurant from a fellow food writer in St. Louis, who posted about it on his Instagram. Their pizza looked delicious, so I made a note to visit them next time I was in Nashville. I’m so happy I went. The pizza is some of the best I’ve ever had, and I loved the appetizers. We got marinated olives and ham and watermelon to start, followed by pizza and dessert. Don’t hold back at Folk; get everything that appeals to you.
For me, a road trip is not complete without stopping at a bakery. Dozen Bakery more than satisfied my craving. I usually go the sweet route at a bakery, but Friday morning, I decided to get a big egg sandwich to prepare for the four hour drive to Eastern Tennessee for the wedding. I’m so glad I did. The egg was perfectly cooked and served on homemade sesame focaccia bread that melted in my mouth.
On the way home on Monday, we made a slight detour and stopped in Franklin, TN, near Nashville for breakfast. I visited Franklin 10 (how has it been that long) years ago and loved its small-town charm and food. I’m a big fan of Franklin Bakehouse, which makes all its own bread and pastries. I got a homemade bagel and lox and it hit the spot.
I did a little reconnaissance before my trip to Chattanooga and read that Whitebird was the place to go for a nice dinner. The reviews were right. The service was excellent and with the exception of one dish (don’t get the crab dip), the food was great, too. I would highly recommend the charred tomato bucatini with local mushrooms.
Chanticleer Inn Bed and Breakfast
Chattanooga is right on the border of Georgia. The place I found us to stay, Chanticleer Inn Bed and Breakfast, is actually in Lookout Mountain in Georgia, only minutes from downtown Chattanooga. I loved it; it was peaceful, relaxing, and they had delicious breakfast cooked to order. I got the biscuits and gravy and I’m still thinking about them days later.
Lookout Mountain Pizza Company
I read about Lookout Mountain Pizza Company a while ago, or maybe I heard about it from someone who mountain climbs in Southern Tennessee. Either way, I remembered it when I was scrolling through a map on Sunday trying to find us a place to eat. It’s about a 30 minute drive from Chanticleer in Georgia, but it’s well worth the trip. Their Neapolitan wood-fired pizza is delicious. And the drive to get to the restaurant is scenic and beautiful.
Here’s a song to get you started on your Tennessee journey, if you go. Jim heard me sing it in the car about twenty times over the past few days.