This year, I ate a bunch of food with some weird people. Thanks so much to everyone who braved the elements and my awkward conversations for one of my weekly Date Night Dining episodes.
There were many memories along the way. I remember eating a turkey leg from a man packing heat, multiple spit takes and blown covers at inappropriate moments.
Overall, the food we tried in Chattanooga was pretty good. As I mention often in my columns, it’s all about expectations. I don’t arrive at a meat-and-three with grand expectations. In order to enjoy the food, you have to leave every opinion at the door and allow yourself to be amazed.
Theses are my favorite Date Night Dining adventures of the year, with a short explanation as to why they made the list. The full articles are linked in the titles.
You are in his home, and you are privileged to be there. OPA is authentically Greek and wonderful. It was a pleasure to experience the restaurant with Tristin, and since this dinner in April, I’ve returned several times to gorge myself on dolmades, pitas and hummus. I highly recommend. Tell Michael I sent you.
Tony’s Pasta Shop & Trattoria
The meal wasn’t remarkable (rarely is Tony’s Pasta anything but ordinary), but the sentimental value of our meal that night was priceless. After a terrific four-year relationship, Lauren (who was my Date Night Dining partner for over a year) and I decided to end our relationship with a final meal at Tony’s. This was that meal. The pasta, bread, dessert were bittersweet. Everything tasted bittersweet.
It was like stepping into an episode of “Portlandia” on Main Street in Chattanooga. The ultra-healthy food at The Local left both Mary Barnett and me energized and laughing. The servers spoke of installing a “fart patio” for the side effects of consuming raw, organic materials. Since our date, I’ve made it a weekly habit to treat myself to a peanut butter and acai bowl every Friday before going out for drinks and gluttony. If you haven’t tried The Local yet, you need to get on the train.
I promised to never write about my favorite restaurant in Chattanooga, but I made an exception on the six-month anniversary of the separation of Lauren and me. Mojo Burrito has long been my “get up on Saturday and schlub the day away” meal of choice. I always order a mini-Mojo with chicken, salsa, cheese, jalapeños and spinach. Lauren would order a similar burrito with steak. We would split an order of chips and their divine queso. After almost a hundred Date Night Dining experiences, Mojo Burrito is still my go-to restaurant in Chattanooga. It’s where I bring tourists, and it’s where I tell people to go if they’re looking for a uniquely Chattanooga meal.
The most interesting meal of the year was had with my friend Jimmy Catlett at a small former gas station on Dodds Avenue called Freddrick’s. A large smoker sits outside, and Freddrick cooks everything to order while wearing a revolver on his hip. His ribs are a highlight, but Catlett encouraged me to try one of the famous turkey legs, of which I’m now a convert and ambassador for until I die. If you like meat-especially simple smoked meats with rich flavors-you owe yourself a visit to Freddrick’s. Yes, the appearance is a bit questionable, but I promise you’ll feel right at home as soon as you walk in the door. This was my favorite find of the year.
The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.
Updated @ 7 a.m. on 12/29/14 to correct a grammatical error.