When you’re a small city two hours from Nashville and Atlanta, it can be hard to get the attention you deserve. Chattanooga flies under the radar but keeps a lot of aces up its sleeve -- it's outdoorsy, affordable, and a damned delicious place to spend a weekend. Start with back-to-back meals at restaurants by James Beard semifinalist Erik Niel. His charcuterie is aged in-house at Main Street Meats, and he sources cheeses and beef from Tennessee farms. Then, it’s on to Easy Bistro & Bar for a Southern style brunch -- order the bacon omelet, tomato pie, and buttermilk biscuits.
The latest wave of Chattanooga’s renaissance has also given rise to plenty of intriguing restaurants, and I take it as a personal challenge to sample as many as possible, an adventure unto itself. ... I conquer a BLT with house-cured bacon at Main Street Meats, on sourdough baked right next door.
Equal parts butcher shop and casual eatery, the specialty here – the owners are Erik and Amanda Niel, the duo behind another local hot spot, Easy Bistro – is, as the name implies, all things meaty. The lip-smacking charcuterie makes for a terrific starter, but it’s the simple, yet sublime sandwiches that really are a knockout. The MSM Pastrami Reuben, for example, combines salty meat, sour cabbage and pickles, and subtly sweet Russian dressing for a deeply satisfying and addictive effect.
“We make a lovely Mortadella (fancy bologna) at Main Street Meats with lots of peanuts, black peppercorn and chunks of pork fatback, and then stuff it in beef bungs to poach it sous vide. Thick-sliced and griddled on the flat top then served on multi-grain with mayo, mustard, and chow-chow. It’s pretty boss—I put it on the menu because it’s fun and people love it. Plus, who doesn’t love a hot bologna sandwich?”