5 Romantic Restaurants in Chattanooga
Restaurants in the Scenic City offer romance by way of elegant spaces, stunning views, and locally and globally sourced dishes plated beautifully. All located within the downtown area, the following five Chattanooga restaurants are the perfect setting to spark a connection.
James Beard Foundation nominated chef Daniel Lindley opened Alleia in 2009 as a nod to rustic Italian cuisine: bacon wrapped dates with aged balsamic; steamed mussels with saffron, garlic, and tomato; pappardelle with braised veal. The menu at Alleia is built around ingredients imported from Italy and sourced from local farms and includes seven types of house-made pasta as well as the option for antipasti, insalate, primi, secondi, contorni, pizze, and dolce. Inside, the lighting is low, and the walls are trimmed in wood that dates back 300 years, taken from the old Harrington building as it was being renovated for the restaurant’s use. In the kitchen, a custom brick oven burns at 750 degrees for baking a margherita pizza topped with basil and mozzarella or a gorgonzola pizza topped with fig and prosciutto.
It’s the direct view of the Tennessee River that makes Boathouse Rotisserie & Raw Bar one of the best date night spots in the Scenic City. Take a stroll on the Chattanooga Riverwalk before or after your meal, and you’re bound to see an otter scurry along the banks or a crew team glide by prepping for their next regatta. The menu at Boathouse includes salads and sandwiches as well as seafood plates starring catfish, shrimp, salmon, trout, and tuna served with black beans and rice. Boathouse’s Raw Bar options include fresh shucked cold water oysters, Chesapeake Bay oysters, and clams. For outdoor seating, the wrap-around porch is outfitted with heaters for cool nights. Simply put, this is the Chattanooga restaurant that fuses romance with comfort. “There’s something to be said about a space that can make you feel at home,” says Food and Beverage Director Jason Greer. “From the moment you walk in the door, you are greeted by the smell of wood fires. You will see boats hanging from the rafters. Many of these were used in competition and donated by the vibrant rowing community in Chattanooga, but most notably there is a 62-foot, 300 pound boat that spans the length of the restaurant, which was in the movie ‘Dead Poets Society.’”
The romantic atmosphere at Bridgeman’s starts with the modern, sophisticated decor: black walls, black ceiling, gold fixtures, white tablecloths. An upscale chophouse featuring USDA prime beef and chops, fresh seafood, and perhaps the largest wine selection in town, this Chattanooga restaurant rich in romance is named after Peter “Rabbit” Bridgeman, who was the very picture of hospitality for The Read House hotel and restaurant guests for 47 years. At Bridgeman’s, brunch is served on Sundays, and favorites from the dinner menu include smoked fennel lobster bisque, wet and dry aged beef, herb crusted rack of lamb, and spice crusted chilean sea bass. The chilled seafood tower is a collection of lobster, king crab legs, colossal shrimp, oysters, and jumbo lump blue crab, and signature cocktails include the honeydew ginger martini and the smoked rosemary-maple old fashioned.
With a raw bar “oyster hour” every night, Easy Bistro & Bar is sure to make a great date. This French bistro recently relocated to West Village, and executive chef and owner Erik Niel, originally from Louisiana, has said that at Easy, seafood shines. But there’s plenty of variety on the menu: small plates of foie gras pâté and pickled hen’s egg, protein-driven dishes like wagyu coulotte steak and gramigna with andouille sausage, broccolini, chili, and pecorino. The new location lends itself to romance in both color scheme and sightlines. “We wanted an open kitchen so that guests could see the wood burning hearth that way it would be more intimate,” says Easy co-owner Amanda Niel. “Our fresh whites, blues, and wood tones match our style of food. A modern take on classic design meets a modern take on classic bistro cuisine.” New to the cocktail menu in early 2021 is the West Side Smash, made from Chattanooga Whiskey 91, lemon, spiced cranberry, and sage.
Formerly St. John’s Hotel, the building now home to St. John’s restaurant was constructed at the turn of the 20th century and was nearly torn down in the 1990s before it was purchased and restored by a local preservationist and architect. Romance at this restaurant is first and foremost hinged on quality and presentation. Here the farm-fresh food scene is elevated to white tablecloth, and the menu changes based on what vegetables are in season. This winter, the Anderson Farm’s Lamb is served with cornbread grits, Big Sycamore Farm’s carrots, charred okra, and demi-glace, while the sauteed sea scallops are plated with a sunchoke puree, apple cider glaze, and candied pumpkin seeds. This restaurant has even made Open Table’s list of 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America in 2021.