What is an Orthodox Guide?
So, what exactly is an “Orthodox Guide” ? Frankly, I’m not sure. It’s sort of a gimmick to have some fun with. So just go with it. However, we do have the handy little “OrthoMeter” for every eatery listed. This tool is completely arbitrary, invented by me, and blessed by Southernors who say “bless your heart!”
Who is Dean?
Dean is me. I’m Dean Arnold, a guy from Chattanooga. I’m not “the dean.” Just Dean. “The dean” for our Deanery of Appalachia (the host of this year’s Assembly) is Fr. David Arnold of Richmond, Virginia. It’s pretty simple—Dean Arnold, not Dean Arnold.
Unlike the other Dean Arnold, I have no cred ecclesiastically (and probably less after writing this brochure). But I have a little bit of street cred in Chattanooga, because I wrote a book about the place (OldMoneyNewSouth.com - actual book here). More importantly, I’m willing to tell you the straight truth and not give everyone five stars or top billing on the OrthoMeter just for showing up and participating.
CAVEATS: This guide suggests certain cool and worthwhile downtown places, but not all, particularly the ones that get a lot of publicity from the regular literature, such as the Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga Lookouts Baseball, Southern Belle Riverboat, Children’s Discovery Museum, etc.
For restaurant genres not included in the guide, I recommend Thai Smile (Asian), Sticky Fingers (Ribs), Sekisui (Japanese), The Blue Plate (Traditional Southern), Jimmy John’s (Fast food), and Whole Foods (organic buffet). Perhaps the city's best non-fancy restaurant is the Boat House (off the grid, 10 minutes by car). For more info, google is your friend.
55 Main St (map) - Traditional breakfast, Californian organic breakfast, hipster veggie breakfast—the Bluegrass Grill has it all. (Open for lunch as well.) Operated by Fr. Jonas Worsham (OCA) and Matushka Joan Marie, these two have been running successful restaurants since the days of Christ the Savior Brotherhood and Brother Juniper’s in Memphis and San Fran. They also did it in Kodiak, Alaska, and Charlottesville, Virginia.
You may have to wait a few minutes because it’s one of the most popular places in the entire city. But always remember rule #1—go to the restaurant that’s busy.
It’s a family affair at Bluegrass Grill. Their 9-year-old son Ben used to run the cash register before they shuffled him off to Philly to count more than change at the Wharton Business School.
Here’s a fun article I wrote about them and another group: coolbloobridge.com/yellowdeli
Could it be more Orthodox? Maybe if they served ouzo.
215 E. Main St (map) - Cool breakfast sandwiches, daily quiche choices, more organic crunchy stuff. Coffee and internet. Make all kinds of fresh breads with three ingredients: flour, salt, water. That’s it. I’ve been getting my bread there for ten years. I have to eat it within a week, but that’s good. What weird chemicals are in all those store breads that last two months?
They started keeping chickens outside, and such activity caused a couple years of grief for the city council. I think they finally allowed some sort of limited legal chicken activity.
Niedlov’s name is a strange but cool derivative of their motto: “We knead to love.”
The founder is a solid bible-believing Presbyterian, the leading Christian group in the area. I used to play pickup basketball with him. A Russian owns the NBA’s New Jersey Nets. ORTHOSCORE: 3
1110 Market St (map) - If breakfast for you (like for me) is really more about coffee, then this is your place. I swear by it. Ian Goodman won second place in a national barista contest fresh out of college. Twenty years later he’s roasting some of the best coffee in the country. Was the largest roaster in the South (or something like that) for years. Famous people who stop by while in town include Samuel L. Jackson, Tommy Chong, and Toby Mac. Ian’s grandfather invented that nicotine gum concept, so chemistry and beans and chemical uppers is in the DNA.
Best coffee ever, and I’ve been up and down the West Coast. Espressos and lattes even better. And bagels and scones and stuff to eat. Ian bought me a $60 coffee press 20 years ago. But as I’ve used it every day since—and I tend to spend at least $50 a month on his coffee—I guess he came out all right in the deal.
Ian is another solid bible Presbyterian type, with a love for all things Scottish, which probably predates the schism. ORTHOSCORE: 4
(Lunch only) 151 River St (map) - Owner Bruce Weiss is definitely orthodox—orthodox Jew, that is. He did this Southern bible belt town a favor by setting up shop here a couple decades ago. We didn’t really know what a Yankee was, much less a New York Jew. He broke us all in, and represented well, the food included. Classic New York deli fare, prepared with love and personality.
Bruce joined me in a roast of Matushka Joan Marie Worsham for her birthday a while back. To know him is to love him. ORTHOSCORE: 3
Kind of a hipster joint. Hipsters love beards. ORTHOSCORE: 2
314 Main St (map) - It’s where the locals go, rich and poor. Semi-crummy atmosphere, which is part of the charm. The energetic servers make it work (especially Tito). Good food, great service, fast, and cheap. Other than that, nothing to recommend about the place. Ask for the hot sauce.
Mexicans. Catholics. They like icons. Closed on Sundays and a week for Easter. They don’t give me a weird look when I say “Christ is Risen.” ORTHOSCORE: 3
249 River St (map) - Really, really good Greek food. Roasted lamb, chicken, kebobs, salad, and a giant platter of other goodies. Incredible chocolate cake. There is no menu. You get the platter for $18 or you don’t. No sharing. It’s kind of absurd. But they get away with it because the food is So. D***. Good. I can’t recommend it enough, and I’m not crazy about Greek food. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
We’re pretty sure the owner is Greek. And we’re pretty sure he attends the Greek church. (We think.) ORTHOSCORE: 4
The owner is another one of those praying Presbyterians (Chattanooga is full of them). He runs like 10 miles a day and personally helps homeschool his four kids in his spare time. He’s in business with St. Tikhon founder and subdeacon Brian Leutwiler. ORTHOSCORE: 4
(Dinner only) 439 Broad St (map) - This Brazilian restaurant is over the top with meat coming at you so fast you have to tell them to stop. Literally. They give you this red sign to flip over when you can’t take any more. I didn’t think I would have to resort to that, but I did. It’s pricey and decadent, but you will have had one heckuvan experience when you’re done.
I’m pushing for exotic forms of grilled tofu on Wednesdays, but don’t think that’s available yet.
There’s nothing particularly Orthodox about this place. But is that really the way to pick a restaurant? ORTHOSCORE: 1
1110 Market St (map) - If materialism is your thing … ahem … I mean, if you have an Orthodox view of created matter being inherently good, then this upscale mall is the place for you. Closest shopping destination from the hotel. Probably works better for a Greek Matushka, but maybe a little Russian negotiating will get you somewhere. Who knows.
110 N. Market St (map) - Probably the best spot in Chattanooga for sidewalk shopping. The shuttle won’t take you directly there (you have to walk across the pedestrian bridge or take a transfer shuttle). Coolidge Park is a beautiful spot by the river, Clumpie’s is the city’s best ice cream, and Bruce’s River St. Deli is great for lunch, Opa for lunch and dinner. Real estate has quadrupled there the past few years and for a reason: it’s a little gem.
411 E. 2nd St (map) - An art gallery, a couple of museums, and a free sculpture garden, along with a high scale coffee shop, an Italian restaurant, and a nifty cafe. Another lovely spot, developed by a local doctor and his wife. However, I was told that the real financier was one of Chattanooga’s Coca-Cola Bottling billionaires.
3370 Lafayette Rd, Fort Oglethorpe, GA (map) - The biggest Civil War attraction is in Chickamauga. A nice museum, a big gun collection, and the battlefield itself. This was the war’s second largest battle behind Gettysburg. Lincoln was obsessed with Chattanooga and couldn’t sleep until he conquered it.
1110 E Brow Rd, Lookout Mountain, TN (map) - The Battles for Chattanooga Museum, a bit closer, is next to Point Park on top of Lookout Mountain. This “electronic map” is real cheesy and retro. But it tells the story better than any other place in the area. I’m a writer, and I think a well-told story is pretty important. This is my favorite of the Civil War attractions. I liked the name they used for decades better: “The Confederama.”
6230 Vance Rd, Chattanooga, TN (map) - No place like it in the world. When Chattanooga shut down it’s only abortion clinic in the early 1990’s and became the largest city in the country with no clinic, they turned the office part of the building into a crisis pregnancy center and transformed the spot where babies were killed into a memorial for the children.
Hundreds of plaques on the wall, purchased by family members for $40 each to support the memorial, give the child a name and a phrase like “I’ll hold you in heaven” or “Please forgive me.” I’m not a crier, and I shed a tear every time I step into the place.