The banana split at St. John's entices with homemade ice cream and a crispy crescent of caramelized banana.
Here's the place that started Chattanooga's restaurant revolution, and no listing of the Choo-Choo city's must-eat spots would be complete without it. (The owner of St. John's started his restaurant career here as a busboy.) The large dining rooms of the Southside Grill blend warm tones of brick, dark woods, and sumptuous fabrics. Lunch menu items tend toward sure-fire winners such as the Smoked Ham and Shrimp Hash, which was served amid a delicious goo of grits, poached eggs, and Hollandaise sauce ($11). Southern classics along the lines of collard greens and fried green tomatoes show up in most of the listings. Though the menu touts a soup that changes daily, a mushroom velouté ($5) was served the two consecutive days we visited. 1400 Cowart Street; (423) 266-9211. Lunch entrées: $9-$12, dinner entrées: $18-$29 .
Tony's Pasta Shop and Trattoria
This delightful dining spot overlooks the river in Chattanooga's Bluff View Art District. Don't come to Tony's if you're on the Atkins diet, as it will be painful to pass up this restaurant's best fare: breads and pasta. Breads are light, earthy, and have perfect crusts. The pasta I ordered arrived al dente; both it and the sauce clearly had been made fresh. The traditional Bolognese meat sauce and the remarkably pungent (but good) garlic-Gorgonzola sauce took me back to northern Italy; all for about $8 each. 212 High Street, (423) 265-5033, ext. 6. Entrées: $8-$13.95 .
This article is from the March 2005 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.