There is a beautiful moment that occurs when, after waiting in hungry suspense, you make eye contact with your waiter and realize your food is coming towards you. Your heart skips a beat as your waiter places half a pound of deliciousness in front of you. In that one moment, all is well with the world, finals are not approaching, summer jobs have been obtained, and you tear up with joy. Or is that just me? Either way, that’s my experience when I find a good burger. Thus, here is my top five ranking of burgers in Chattanooga.
5. Urban Stack: Don’t get too mad at me – I know it’s a favorite place amongst Covenant students, but really, y’all are overpaying for fairly ordinary burgers. While they can have some good flavor combinations, they are nothing particularly original. They play it safe with known, somewhat mild flavors. But my real qualm with Urban is the meat is not the star of the show. It is somewhat flavorless and easily overwhelmed by toppings. With most burgers coming in at $9 plus an additional cost for fries, I often leave having spent more than I planned and am still hungry after small portions. They have excellent vegetarian options, but if that is what this hardcore carnivore ends up ordering at an acclaimed burger restaurant, that’s just sad.
4. Slick’s Burgers: Now let me qualify this ranking – I love a good Slick’s burger, but it has gone down on my list over time. They focus on the meat (as it should be), have a glutenous Niedlov’s bun, and some unique topping options. I go for anything with their house-made Pepper Jelly or Blue Cheese Dressing on it. With free parking in the back and an emphasis on the burger itself, it’s a solid burger joint. However, it’s just a bit too pricey for what you are getting. I leave hungry, finish someone else’s burger, or have to order something else. I still go to Slick’s, but now it’s mainly for their killer Fire Fries, rather than for their burgers.
3. The Terminal: Start with some Twisted Hummus or a mound of sweet and savory Pot Roast Nachos, then go for a solid burger, and you’re going to be a content person. They do build-your-own style burgers on Niedlov’s buns so you get to make it your own. Play around with your flavor combinations, but anything with their Cajun mayo is going to be a solid choice. The Terminal makes the top three because they highlight the meat – everything else on the burger is there to emphasize it, not distract from it. If you’re not feeling the beef vibes, The Macho Man is an excellent chicken and hot sausage sandwich/burger option which is a solid choice every time.
2. Tremont Tavern: These are the kind of burgers I wait in eager anticipation for and begin to salivate as they approach. These are filling, hearty burgers that leave you feeling satisfied and happy with life. It is all about the meat. I go for the Pimento Burger (it is the south, after all), Havarti Tavern Burger, or, if I’m feeling the spice, the Jalapeño Jack Burger. I also appreciate Tremont has a burger of the month which keeps the menu fresh with unique ingredients and combinations.
1. Sofa King Juicy Burger: This is my top pick not because it is the most unique burger you will ever have, but because I think it is the best burger for your money in the city. With most burgers coming in at $5-6, these are solid burgers in a college budget. They keep things simple, which means you taste all of the ingredients in their entirety. I get a couple of burgers, some spicy fries, and a liquid nitrogen milkshake. It is just a solid meal. It’s a hole-in-the-wall small restaurant that is doing it right. Just writing about it is making me hungry, so I think I’ll go to my current top Chattanooga burger joint tonight. If you want a good burger and a good deal, I’ll see you there.