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What is the most iconic dish in Chattanooga?

Eight dishes; three rounds; 524 votes.

Who will win the title of "most Chattanoogan food?"

Will it be the sticky, syrupy Aretha Frankensteins pancakes, or will Champy's famous fried chicken reign supreme? Or, will there be an upset from the well-loved fast-food chain, Krystal?

Chattanooga's food scene is beloved, and there are plenty of iconic options to get your grub on. But which dish defines us? Which dish would you say screams, "Chattanooga?"

In March, we asked readers to weigh in, nominating their favorites then casting their votes. So which dish will be named the ultimate Chattanoogan food?

Get ready, folks, it's time for a Chattanooga food throwdown.

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Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Champy's three-piece plate.

Champy's Fried Chicken first began competing in 2009, when it opened its doors in Chattanooga. Ever since, it's offered its beloved fried chicken with a side of Mississippi Delta culture — now with three locations in Chattanooga and eight total in the Southeast. Its special move is its namesake: the fried chicken, available as a plate with a choice of dark or light meat, or as tenders.

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Getty Images / Forker's serves up hardy pulled pork sandwiches.

Located off Highway 58, Forker's BBQ has become a staple for Chattanoogans, making it a strong contender for this competition. Its pulled pork move is hard to defend against. Other favorites include its rib plate, pulled pork plate and the mac and cheese topped with pulled pork, barbecue sauce and sour cream.

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Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Pancakes at Aretha Frankensteins in Chattanooga.

Even if you've only been to Chattanooga a handful of times, you've surely heard of Aretha Frankensteins. The Tremont Street eatery has one signature move: fluffy, thick pancakes that have become a local favorite for breakfast or brunch. But that's not the only dish keeping it competitive. Another noteworthy recipe is its "Waffle of Insane Greatness."

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Staff file photo / Krystal burgers got their start in Chattanooga.

Because it is a chain restaurant, Krystal may not be the first option one thinks of for a Chattanooga food throwdown, making it somewhat of a wildcard in this competition. But it was founded here in 1932, making those little square burgers decidedly Chattanooga — and a surprise contender in the fight.

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Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Fried chicken, barbecue pork, collard greens and whole potatoes in a white cream sauce at Bea's restaurant.

Bea's Restaurant's fried chicken really packs a punch, along with a number of other traditional Southern favorites such as chicken and dumplings, fried okra and, of course, such desserts as peach or apple cobbler. It's a classic and long-lived Chattanooga option, having opened its doors in 1950.

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Contributed photo by Nick Valentine / The chopped wiener plate is a staple at Memo's Grill.

Since 1966, Memo's Grill, located off MLK Boulevard, has served up beloved chopped wiener plates, made with chopped hot dogs smothered in thick chili sauce and served with slaw and bread —helping the grill throw a strong uppercut into this competition.

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Staff file photo / MoonPie is legendary in Chattanooga.

MoonPie was almost a shoo-in for the competition, given its role as a historic favorite. First conceived in 1917 when a Kentucky coal miner asked a traveling salesman for a snack "as big as the moon," according to its website, MoonPie has been produced by Chattanooga Bakery ever since.

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Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Tremont Tavern's pimiento cheeseburger

Opened in 2006, Tremont Tavern quickly became a local watering hole and favorite for its juicy, creative burgers. Piled high with tons of toppings and cooked to perfection, they've become a standout among a myriad of other options.

First roundFIGHT!

In the first round, Champy's fried chicken went up against Forker's pulled pork, with Champy's ultimately delivering the decisive blow and moving on to the semifinals. Aretha Frankensteins pancakes went up against Krystal burgers, with the fluffy breakfast favorite besting the square snacks. Next, Bea's fried chicken was up against Memo's chopped wieners, the latter being defeated by the fried favorite. Finally, the well-known MoonPie was up against the Tremont Tavern burger — with the burger ultimately besting the baked good.

Second roundGO!

For the semifinals, it was Champy's against Aretha Frankensteins, and Bea's against Tremont Tavern. The fan-favorite breakfast was ousted by the clucking dinner, while burgers won the day against Bea's.

Final roundFIGHT!

The rounds had been fierce, but now only two fighters remained: Champy's fried chicken and Tremont Tavern's burger. Both fought valiantly, but in the end, the Tremont burger took the top spot to become our reader-voted "most Chattanoogan food."

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Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Tremont Tavern has been awarded the 2022 "Most Chattanoogan Food" by Chattanooga Times Free Press and Chatter magazine readers.
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