The draw of the North Shore is unmistakable.
With the opening of the Walnut Street Bridge as a linear park in 1993 and the renovation of Coolidge Park into a usable space in 1997, the area has moved from nobody's favorite area to a popular destination for locals and tourists.
With the growth of the area has come a variety of restaurants. Indeed, along Frazier Avenue from the Market Street Bridge to the Veterans Bridge, there are 12 spots where you can grab a bite. And along River Street, just outside Coolidge Park, there are seven more.
Five of those -- Baked Chattanooga, Dipped Fresh, Poblanos, Thrive Cafe, Totto Sushi & Grill -- have opened since the beginning of 2012. This spring, Gigi's Cupcakes and Frozen Yogurt will join them.
"We want to be a part of the tourist scene in the North Shore area," says Jennifer Jones, general manager of the local Gigi's Cupcakes and Frozen Yogurt stores for owners Mike and Joy Irwin. "We think it's a great location."
Indeed, the location will be the franchise's first to offer both cupcakes and frozen yogurt.
"What's better than frozen yogurt and cupcakes?" Jones asks.
The number of eateries in the area isn't daunting to the newcomer, either.
"I think it helps us," she says. "We have a great product. It will show how great we are."
Restaurant clusters are nothing new to Chattanooga, but they previously grew along main thoroughfares such as Brainerd Road, Ringgold Road and Highway 153.
The 800 block of Market Street now appears poised to be such a hub. Fork and Pie Bar, which offers savory and sweet pies from traditional to outrageous, and Community Pie, which offers unusual pizzas and craft beers, opened in 2012; Blacksmith's Bistro & Bar is moving to the block from its current location in St. Elmo; and a Cuban restaurant and bar are expected to locate there during 2013.
Elsewhere on the Chattanooga restaurant scene, sushi seems to be a growing draw.
At least two, E-Sushi (Second and Market streets) and Totto Sushi Bar and Grill (330 Frazier Ave.), opened since the beginning of 2012, while Sekisui moved to a new location (1120 Houston St.).
Meanwhile, the always burgeoning Hamilton Place mall area and Highway 153 corridors continued to expand their dining options.
In and around Hamilton Place, Bar Louie inside the mall, Panda Express at 2260 Gunbarrel Road; and Sweet Peppers, at 2040 Hamilton Place Blvd., are among the new offerings.
In the Highway 153 area, New York Pizza Department at 5731 Highway 153, and Penn Station East Coast Subs at 5241 Highway 153, now compete for residents' dining dollars.
Contact staff writer Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6497.