In the last article, we went through a pretty typical Chattanooga sight-seeing itinerary, but I wanted to take some time to highlight another dimension of the city that actually feels much more defining of the time that I spent here. I’m talking about all the great bars, restaurants, and coffee shops that we visited while we were here. I can’t claim that they are necessarily the best or worst of Chattanooga—I didn’t stick around long enough to be making those sorts of assertions—but I CAN tell that each and every place I’m about to show you is really freaking cool.
And that’s because Chattanooga turned out to be really freaking cool. I found this southern strain of Appalachia hipster to be more than agreeable. So before I over-hype what you’re about to read, I’m just going to cut this paragraph off and move on.
9 Awesome Bars, Restaurants & Cafés In Chattanooga
Address: 2518 Tremont St, Chattanooga, TN 37405
Hours: [7:00am – 12:00am | Everyday]
[ Bar + Restaurant ]
It's hard to find a single list of bars or restaurants in Chattanooga that doesn't include Aretha Frankenstein's. It would seem that this place is one of this city's most famous places, right up there with the Chattanooga Choo Choo and the Tennessee Aquarium. So naturally, when we rolled into town, the first item on our night's itinerary was to come here. Sitting on an unassuming corner of a hilly-going-on-mountainous residential neighborhood on the north side the Tennessee River, this place is surprisingly out-of-the-way. And to walk into this place, it's decidedly anti-climactic.
I don't know what I was expecting (I guess something a little bit bigger?) but Aretha Frankenstein's was not what I imagined would be. However, I definitely do not mean this to be a knock against it in the least. Its reality is definitely dwarfed by its reputation, but putting my preconceived notions aside, this is still a really cool place. Equal parts bar and diner, this place serves a mean menu of amazing breakfast food late into the night. My recommendation would be the pancakes—they are a thick as a ham sandwich. No joke. Did that statement just leave you confused? Then come to Aretha Frankenstein's and give them a try!
Address: 1464 Market St, Chattanooga, TN 37408
Hours: [11:00am – 12:00am | Everyday]
[ Restaurant + Brewery + Bar ]
The Terminal Brewhouse is a great beer brewery and restaurant located in the historic heart of Chattanooga. Just spitting distance from the the legendary Chattanooga Choo Choo, this place also occupies a building that has quite a bit of history behind it. Built in 1909, it was originally called the Stong Building. No, that's not a typo—Stong. If missed our last post, the Choo Choo is the historic train station of Chattanooga. The Stong building was originally built to accomodate passengers who found themselves in Chattanooga for the night. Officially it was a hotel and restaurant, but legend has it that it also served as a speakeasy during prohibition, which brought along with a reputation for gambling and, shall we say... ladies of the night. What I'm saying is that this place was supposedly a brothel.
Anyway, in the early 1940s, this building was purchased by Chester Davis, who was one of Chattanooga's first black business owners. Over the ensuing decades, this building remained in his family and played host a wide array of different businesses, until it was purchased by the current owners of the Terminal Brewhouse in 2006. They restored the building, and converted it into a brewery, adopting green and historic practices for making beer. It should also be noted that this remains a locally owned business and goes out of its way to ensure that they are partnering with as many other local businesses as possible. You can learn more about their story here. So if you're in Chattanooga and you're in the mood for a burger and a beer, look no further.
Address: 204 High St, Chattanooga, TN 37403
Hours: [7:00am – 10:00pm | Monday – Thursday]
………...…[7:00am – 11:30pm | Friday]
…...……...[8:00pm – 11:30pm | Saturday]
……...…...[8:00am – 10:00pm | Sunday]
[ Coffee Shop + Bakery ]
Rembrandt's Coffee House is a great fixture in a neighborhood called the Bluff View Arts District. Composed mainly of small art galleries, the "main event" of this area is the Hunter Museum of American Art, which we visited in our last article. It's an awesome museum, but it's even more awesome with your belly fully of chocolate and coffee. If you visit this place, you'll definitely want to stop through Rembrandt's either before or after the museum.
When we visited, it was a rainy day. Rembrandt's has a European-feeling terrance that looked like it would have been an awesome place to sit if it had been sunny outside, but the cold, wet conditions outside might have suited this place even better. It was a beacon of coziness shining through the gloom, and when we opened the door to the aroma of coffee mixed with that of chocolate and pastries, we knew that this place was going to hold a special place in our hearts. Edit: A year later, I came back here on a beautiful warm day, and it was also awesome.
Address: 26 E 5th Ave, Columbus, OH 43201
Hours: [11:00am – 8:00pm | Monday – Thursday]
………...…[11:00am – 10:00pm | Friday – Saturday ]
…...……...[11:00am – 5:00pm | Sunday]
[ Chocolate Store? ]
What can I tell you about the Hot Chocolatier? If you were forced to take a guess at what this place is and does just based on their name alone, you would probably be right. This place is Chattanooga's mecca for anything and everything chocolate. You name it, they have it. Not only that, but they probably serve a few different variations of it that will knock your socks off. From ice cream to cookies to brownies to marshmallows dipped in fudge, they have it all. Oh, and of course, they serve a mean glass of hot chocolate.
The line was not short, but that still didn't afford us quite enough time to read through their extensive menu, or gaze through the glass at every treat they had on display. It would seem that they have been extremely thorough making sure that they have all their bases covered when it comes to chocolate. We ordered a sampler of treats, and it did NOT disappoint. If you like chocolate, put this place on your list. If you're doing some sightseeing in Chattanooga, you're likely to walk past this place anyway. It's right across the street from the Chattanooga Choo Choo.
5. Velo Coffee
Address: 509 E Main St #3, Chattanooga, TN 37408
Hours: [7:00am – 3:00pm | Monday – Friday]
………...…[10:00am – 5:00am | Saturday]
…...……...[10:00am – 3:00am | Sunday]
[ Coffee Shop + Bakery ]
Velo is the 2nd coffee shop that we’re going to feature on this list. I’m a big fan of this place because I feel like a visit here lets you see behind the scenes. You see, there is no wall separating the space for customers from the space for their staff. It’s all one big room, which means that while you wait for your coffee to be ready, you get to wander amidst some pretty cool coffee-related machinery. Velo roasts, packages, grinds, brews, and serves coffee all out of this same shop, so there’s a lot to take in.
I’m something of a coffee enthusiast, so part of me was geeked out to be seeing “how the sausage is made,” but I also just liked the vibe. The people were nice, there was a nice outdoor seating / garden area that looked like it would have been really cool on a warmer day, and to top it all off, the coffee was good. So if you’re ever looking for a caffeine injection in Chattanooga, give this place a try.
6. Matilda Midnight (+ Dwell Hotel)
Address: 120 E 10th St, Chattanooga, TN 37402
Hours: [10:00am – 12:00am | Everyday]
[ Cocktail Bar + Hotel ]
The Dwell Hotel is sort of an institution in Chattanooga. It was opened in 1909 and has been a functioning hotel (more or less) ever since. Originally, it was called The Colonial Hotel, but the name was later changed to The Stone Fort Inn, an hommage to the Civil War Era, during which a giant stone fortress sat in this part of the city. The hotel went through a number of reimaginings and remodelings over the years, but now that we have arrived in a time that appreciates "retro," this place has hit its stride.
The hotel today has been thoughtfully and tastefully outfitted to feel like something out of old-time Hollywood, like something out of 1940s LA. The lobby of this hotel has become something of hotspot for Instagrammers as they pass through the city—enough so that you now have to get a freaking press pass to take pictures in there with anything other than your smart phone. These sorts of things always bristle my feathers, but in this case, I'm going to look past it because I'm actually just here to recommend the bar. Screw the hotel! The Dwell Hotel's bar is called Matilda Midnight and it is very cool. I did not do a great job of capturing it with these photos, but it's still a good place for a cocktail. Check it out.
Address: 1110 Market St, Chattanooga, TN 37402
Hours: [2:00pm – 11:00pm | Monday – Saturday]
………...…[Closed | Sunday]
[ Cocktail Bar + Upscale Restaurant ]
If you do some digging on the best bars in Chattanooga, you’ll probably stumble across The Social pretty quickly. And if you do some digging on the best restaurants in Chattanooga, you’re likely to come across Public House almost equally as fast. It wasn’t until I showed up to Public House for a nice dinner that I realized that the social was attached to it. It turns out that these are basically the same establishment—the only difference between the bar and the restaurant is that you can enter through different doors. Beyond that it’s all part of the same space and owned by the same folks. So we get to hit 2 birds with 1 stone here!
Both the bar and the restaurant are pretty dang cool once you’ve made it inside them, but getting to them threw me for a bit of a loop. Another place that everybody will tell you to check out in Chattanooga is Warehouse Row, which sounds pretty cool until you get there and realize that’s just a big mall. It’s got a cool warehouse-esque exterior… but really just a mall like any other on the inside. However, there is some very cool stuff in it. For instance, Chattanooga’s branch of Two Ten Jack is here (which is an awesome Japanese restaurant whose Nashville location I covered here). And then there’s The Social & Public House. Also both very cool. Great drinks, great food, if you’re interested in seeing Warehouse Row, you might want to plan an early dinner here.
Address: 55 Johnson St, Chattanooga, TN 37408
Hours: [Closed | Monday]
………...…[5:00am – 12:00am | Tuesday – Thursday]
…...……...[5:00pm – 2:00am | Thursday]
……...…...[5:00pm – 2:00am | Friday – Saturday]
……...…...[10:30am – 3:00pm | Sunday]
[ Bar + Restaurant ]
The Flying Squirrel is probably the only place that I'm guaranteed to recommend to everybody that asks me for things to do in Chattanooga. This bar is a goddamn architectural marvel. It's hard to quite explain what this building looks like from the outside... but luckily I won't have to; you can just look at the picture below. It's a very unique building, but it gets even better once you go inside.
The most striking thing about this place is the illuminated skeleton of a canoe hanging upside-down from the ceiling. This canoe hangs over the top of the bar, which straddles the giant, glass, street-facing wall of this establishment, allowing for seating both inside and on the sidewalk. On one side of the bar, there is a second level of seating, which overlooks the rest of the space. On the other side of the bar, there is a generous outdoor seating area, with trendy, symmetrical wood patterns and trendy string-lights. But that's enough about the way this place looks—it's also just a good vibe! There's a massive beer list and they do brunch too. Check this place out!
Address: 35 Patten Pkwy, Chattanooga, TN 37402
Hours: [11:00am – 12:00am | Everyday]
[ Bar + Pool Hall ]
I had heard mixed reviews about this place prior to actually coming here, but let me set the record straight. If you're asking me, The Honest Pint is the best bar in Chattanooga. It's an Irish bar with some entertaining rhetoric about their value proposition to the community. For example, "It has come to pass that certain retailers have abused the trust of their patrons by pouring their beer into a 13-15 oz glass and still referring to it as a pint." Well not here. When you come here, you can expect an honest pint of beer. They also serve a mixture of Irish and American food, claiming to serve the best Reuben in Chattanooga. So there's a little bit of background, but none of this is why I love The Honest Pint (although it certainly doesn't hurt).
I love this place because of the space. This huge relic is a setting worthy of a Wes Anderson movie, with giant chandeliers handing from the ceiling, grand wooden staircases and bannisters surrounding their dingy 2-story atrium, and and endless pool tables filling every available nook and cranny. Although I don't believe that this is a smoking bar, the faint smell of cigarettes hangs lightly in the air and—this is probably the only time I will ever say this, because I really hate smoking—I think it might actually make a positive contribution to the atmosphere I have come to love. During our first visit, Halloween was right around the corner, so this whole place was covered with fake cob webs, making this an already borderline-creepy building feel like a haunted mansion. We had to clear out a bit early because they were hosting a showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show, and that was the last piece of information that I needed. This place rocks. I vow never to return to Chattanooga without coming here. So far I’ve made good on that promise.
🗺️ Our Chattanooga Map 🗺️
That’s Chattanooga! Of course there are plenty more bars, coffee shops, and restaurants in this city that are not covered here. However, I think this is a pretty good list, because we checked out a lot more places than what are listed here. These aren’t just the places I happened to stumble into in Chattanooga. These are my actual favorites. I’m already looking forward to the next time I can drink at the Honest Pint.
Above you will see all of the aforementioned establishments on the map. If you’re looking for a great Smokey Mountain vacation, Chattanooga would be a great jumping off point! Or if you just want to try a new city, this place will definitely keep you busy for the weekend.
Up next we’re going to make the jump to yet another Appalachian gem. We’re going to keep the ball rolling with a trip to Asheville, North Carolina. Hold onto your hats!