Is it just me, or has the Chattanooga food scene cornered the market when it comes to laid-back eateries with quality food? Sure, we have several true standouts in the fine dining category, but more and more, when someone from out of town asks where to get something tasty in a no-fuss atmosphere, my list of recommendations keeps getting longer and longer.
A new(ish) addition to this list is North Shore gem Basecamp Restaurant and Bar.
Located on the corner of Frazier and Tremont in the old North Chatt Cat space, Basecamp features a relatively small indoor seating area along a partially covered, dog-friendly patio with views of the Walnut Street Bridge that more than doubles its capacity. The decor pays homage to Chattanooga's outdoor scene, with tables and bar crafted by local artists and craftsmen using natural wood from around the area. The aesthetic is undoubtedly Chattanooga-inspired; rustic but modern, cozy but cool.
If you go
› Where: Basecamp Restaurant and Bar, 346 Frazier Ave.
› Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday
› Price range: $3.50-$14
› Alcohol: Full bar
› Phone: 423-803-5251
Owners Jacob Mundy and Brett Allen, veterans of the Chattanooga food scene, have created an approachable menu stacked to the brim with Southern-style favorites and craft beer along with seasonal rotating specials. If you have a hankering for Southern comfort food, try a starter like the Pimento Arancini ($9), featuring house-made pimento cheese, risotto and bacon fried and served with a side of locally made pepper jelly. Hearty entrees include a chorizo meatloaf ($14), wrapped in bacon served on a bed of mashed potatoes and gravy with a side of asparagus; customizable burgers ($9) and mouthwatering hand-helds like the vegetarian Sass Squash Sandwich ($9.50) with roasted squash, zucchini, tomato, feta, red onion, avocado dressing and spring mix on sourdough bread.
My boyfriend and I made sure to go with another couple so we could get a well-rounded taste of everything Basecamp's menu has to offer. Based on the recommendation of a friend, we started with the Campfire Wings ($10), half with the homemade dry rub and half tossed in the award-winning local Hoff Sauce. House-brined, grilled and flash-fried to order, the wings were meaty and flavorful. Before I knew it I was reaching toward an empty tray; with wings this good, they go fast.
Our entrees ran the gamut from a homemade pot roast ($12) so tender and savory it would make my grandma jealous, to the Basecamp Melt ($11.50), which featured a juicy beef patty, pepper jack cheese, Basecamp sauce and sauteed onions on buttery sourdough bread.
Both dishes were delicious, but the standouts had to be the Basecamp Stew ($4 or $7) and the Basecamp Tacos ($8). Featuring the aforementioned, grandma-jealousy-inducing pot roast along with onions, carrots, rice, Parmesan, potatoes, green onion, sour cream and homemade spicy black bean broth, the Basecamp Stew is a tasty way to warm up on a cold winter day.
The Basecamp Tacos, which come with your choice of grilled chicken, shredded chicken or pork, are loaded with a crunchy jalapeno slaw, creamy avocado dressing, lime and red salsa. Served with a side of fluffy rice and black beans, the tacos are bright, spicy and refreshing, easily some of my new favorites in town.
Basecamp originally started out with the goal to be the "friendliest restaurant in town," and I'd say they're doing a pretty darn good job. Our server was attentive without being overbearing.
On another occasion when we came with an 8-year-old who loves to make "mystery mixtures" with any condiments he can get his hands on, our server was lovely, shrugging off our apologies and making sure we were aware her only concern is that we were taken care of.
Whether you're in the mood for quality, Southern-style comfort food or a cold, craft beer in a laid-back atmosphere (or both!), give Basecamp a go. You won't be disappointed.
Email Kate Brennan at email@example.com.