Anyone who follows me on social media knows I have a more-than-slight obsession with poached eggs and all things brunch. Most of American culture views food as a physical necessity, an inconvenience to be consumed in front of TVs or alone in dorm rooms at the greatest possible speed.
However, in other cultures, the day and the community centers on food. People spend the entire day preparing a large meal, sit down with 20 people, and talk for hours. The closest thing we in the US have to that experience is brunch. Imagine my chagrin upon coming to the deep south 3 years ago and discovering how few of you know the joys of brunch. Consider this your great awakening: start your new brunching lifestyle at Tupelo Honey.
Although the verdict on the best brunch spot in Chattanooga is still out, Tupelo definitely makes the list and is a great introduction to this glorious meal. Located in historic Warehouse Row, the restaurant boasts a circa 1904 building, exposed brick, tall ceilings, and both indoor and outdoor seating. The cuisine itself can be described as traditional southern with a twist. Though a little outside of a college budget, it is a good place to go for a bit of a splurge or when the parents are in town for the weekend and want to treat you to some real food.
The meal begins with complimentary biscuits with their own honey and homemade blueberry jam—and a never-ending stream of coffee. For starters, their fried green tomatoes balance sweet and sour with perfectly fried, tart green tomatoes, earthy goat cheese grits, and a roasted red pepper coulis that adds a brightness to the entire dish.
As for main dishes, there are several good options. The Eggs Betty is a classic —well-executed eggs benedict on homemade biscuits with a mild hollandaise. If you want something more unique, the Gulf Coast Lump Crab Benedict has a generous amount of rich, spiced crab meat. If you go for the sweet foods, the Shoo Mercy Sweet Potato Pancakes are an interesting rendition on a classic with a generous portion. The Shoo Mercy Omelet takes everything traditionally southern (fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese, local bacon) and puts it into an omelet and somehow pulls it off deliciously. If you want to live more on the lunch side of brunch, the Pimento & Fried Pickle Burger is a solid choice. I would, however, avoid the Fried Chicken and Biscuits as Maple Street Biscuit Company wins that category.
Now for the insider’s tip: you can get a free Blueberry Champagne Short Stack by simply downloading their app in front of your waiter. Last year, a flirtatious waiter suggested that I just delete the app and redownload it every visit. That was indeed excellent advice. If you have friends like mine who like to tell the restaurant it is your birthday when it most definitely is not, the Brown Butter Pecan Pie is intensely rich and draped in a dark chocolate sauce. A fake birthday and piece of this pie are a perfect ending to a Saturday morning.
While parking is validated by the restaurant, it can still be difficult to find a spot during busy times. Also, be sure to make a reservation as it fills up quickly. Be aware that the inside can be somewhat claustrophobic, so sitting outside or in a booth might be a good option. Tupelo Honey always offers a consistent, good-quality eating experience that is the perfectly balanced brunch to welcome in the weekend. If you have not been, Tupelo Honey should be next on your list of Chattanooga classics.