* Talus, 812 Scenic Highway, Lookout Mountain
* The Kitchen at Union Square, 200 M.L. King Blvd.
* Tupelo Honey at Warehouse Row, 1110 Market St.
* Universal Joint, 532 Lookout St.
* Taziki's (second location), 2020 Gunbarrel Road
* Ruth's Chris Steak House (inside the Embassy Suites), 2321 Lifestyle Way
* Flying Squirrel Neighborhood Bar, 55 Johnson St.
* Cafe 7 at Rock City, 1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain, Ga.
* Milk & Honey, 135 N. Market St.
* Elemental, 313 Manufacturers Road
* TerraMae Appalachian Bistro (inside the StoneFort Inn), 122 E. 10th St.
* Community Pie, 850 Market St.
* Main Street Meats, 217 East Main St.
* 1885 Grill, 3914 St. Elmo Ave.
* Chicken Salad Chick, 629 Market St.
* Cheddars, 2014 Gunbarrel Road
* Beast and Barrel, 16 Frazier Ave.
* Clyde's, opening in June at 122 East Main St.
* Firebirds Wood Fired Grill opening May 5 at Hamilton Corners, 2115 Gunbarrel Road
Long before the first plate of fried green tomatoes was delivered to waiting patrons, and well before the north building of Warehouse Row was reconfigured to bring Tupelo Honey Cafe to town last September, owners and other interested parties of the Asheville, N.C.-based restaurant began doing their homework.
"We do a lot of third-party research to identify towns that meet our criteria," said Steve Frabitore, principal owner of Tupelo Honey. "We look for growing population and college representation, as well as a strong, emerging downtown environment because all of our stores are in or on the edge of downtown. Chattanooga has done an unbelievable job with its downtown." And, he added, business has exceeded expectations.
In the past year, dozens of new restaurants have opened or will be opening in the Scenic City, but Bruce Baird, born and raised in Chattanooga, remembers a time when the city's restaurant choices didn't go beyond a few meat-and-threes along with a couple of cafeteria-style eateries, fast-food establishments and burger/beer joints. Now, he says, the choices are many. And for a man who dines out three times a week on average, that means a lot.
"Chattanooga truly is flooded with great restaurants. All of this growth brings many more people downtown to enjoy the many places to eat," he said.
And since he works downtown as owner of Bruce Baird & Co., he finds it difficult to decide where to eat in the downtown area. There are just so many places, he said. But when he makes the drive to Hamilton Place, Ruth's Chris Steak House has become his favorite since it opened in June.
Dining plays an integral role in the "Chattanooga experience," said Bob Doak, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Our research shows us the importance of dining and how we're fulfilling our brand promise -- people have expectations for dining in Chattanooga and we meet or exceed those expectations."
Frabitore said Tupelo Honey also looks for a strong overnight tourist business. Chattanooga fits that requirement, he said, in part due to the Tennessee Aquarium.
Doak said people return to Chattanooga on a frequent basis, "so it's always great to have new places for them to try. The amount and diversity of restaurants that have opened in the past year has been pretty impressive -- from the Flying Squirrel 'neighborhood bar' to the upscale Appalachian bistro TerraMae to the hotspot Community Pie.
"It's about the collective mix of options that draw people here and keep them here for longer periods of time."
Here are some of the restaurants that have opened in Chattanooga in the past year, as well as a couple soon to open:
Email Anne Braly at firstname.lastname@example.org.