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Sep 8, 2006 04:45 AM

Any Promising Chowhounding Areas in TN?

I'm in downtown Chattanooga, and suffering greatly. I need to get out of town, clearly. Every venue (EVERY venue) around here is a theme joint with neon signs and a menu of items every single one of which has cheese melted on it or cubed into it....and food is cooked by 17 year old chefs with dirty hair who look like they'd rather be anywhere else. I gotta get out of here? This is hell. I can't begin to tell you what I've gone through tonight.

I'm not looking for specific tips...I want to "chow it myself". But can anyone point me to a promising part of the state (aside from Memphis, which I know well). I'm guessing the answer will be "anywhere but downtown Chattanooga," but I was in Cleveland, TN today and had heart palpitations there, too. I need to find the "real TN", with fried catfish places, and private homes with shingles inviting in passersby for dinner. I don't want to go to some highly thought-of Italian place or a pretty good Thai. I want an area where I can dig in...where under-radar deliciousness may lurk. It sure isn't where I am now!

If anyone wants to follow along on my road trip eating across the country, start out at:


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  1. I remember Chattanooga. We used to stay atop Lookout Mountain at a place called the Chanticleer Lodge. Unfortunately, I have no good memories of food. In case no one else chimes in, I did find this:

    This isn't a tip, since I know nothing about this place, but IF they're still there, and IF they're cooking real food, maybe they can point you in a good direction for this part of your journey. Anyway, good luck.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Pat Hammond

      Thanks, Pat. I think I'm just going to drive and drive till it starts looking good. I'm used to dooing this in urban and suburban areas, in ranges of 10-20 miles. It's a little intimidating to do so at 10, 20, or 30 times that scale, but we shall see.

    2. what about zarzour's? read about in gourmet magazine a few years ago, and was intrigued by it...also if you like spicy food, you could always head to nashville for some hot chicken (prince's)

      knoxville isn't too far, and king tut's is an entertaining, hole in the wall place...

      1. There is a place on the outskirts of Chattanooga that we've been to a few times. It's a meat and three type place and the food is of the nice home cooked variety. It's always been very good.
        I don't remember the name of it but if you're coming from the west (EB) on 24 it's one exit past the welcome centre. The road skirts the bottom of the mountain. It's on your right. It burned down a couple years ago and was rebuilt. Always enjoyed the food there.
        If anyone knows what I'm talking about, feel free to chime in.


        1. Have you been to the City Cafe Diner? Downtown near the Hilton (Sheraton? Some big old hotel) - it's sort of the motel restaraunt for a motel 6 or something like that, but is a real surprising place. Huge menu, an unbelievable selection of cakes and pastries, great food at great prices, excellent service, a chowhound delight. Not fancy, but just really good. We were in Cnooga for a few days, staying in aforementioned big old hotel, and saw this place out our window, and figured it looked like a cheap place for breakfast. We were blown away - we liked it so much we ate there 3 or 4 more times. Even ran into a fellow Nashvillian/foodie friend there, who said it was a favorite of his.

          1. If you are looking for a Meat and 3 type place in Cleveland, I can recommend 2. One is Taste of Home: 1700 King Edward Avenue Southeast, Cleveland, TN 37311-3072. (423) 472-8333. It is where a lot of the local factory workers eat, and everything is home made. If they have cake, get it. It can be a little hard to find, but the owner's name is Whitney and he will give you directions if you call. The hours can be a little odd, so I would call. The fried chicken is awesome.
            My other recommendation is The Little Diner on 1st. Locally owned, tiny place, everything homemade with a lot of specials. The options vary from breakfast to burgers to meatloaf and chicken, with daily specials. Again, homemade and southern. This is a place to ask the person serving you what to get, because it is a small place with a small staff, and the owner/cook also serves and knows what is good.
            Cleveland isn't really a drought area for food, the good places are just out of the way and you need recommendations to find them.

            If you aren't in the market for a meat and 3 type place, Cafe Roma (www, and Gardener's Market would be my recommendation. Cafe Roma is italian, with some fusion options, sandwiches, pasta, salads and soup for lunch, pasta, veal and fish at dinner. Gardener's is a deli with awesome sandwiches and a variety of imported products. Google the names with Cleveland, TN for reviews and directions.