The Pugh Review - 1885

If you follow me on Instagram (@anna.pugh), you know I like to post pictures of where I’m eating, what I’m cooking, and an occasional video of a perfectly poached egg. One of my followers recently asked if it’s hard being a food snob while on a college budget. To this there is an important distinction to be made between being a foodie and a food snob.

Food is an unlimited outlet for creativity and enjoyment, but no one wants to be that picky eater whom other people must work to accommodate at dinner parties. As such, I think a foodie is someone who can appreciate the nuances of good food, but a food snob is someone who requires it. I know I will have crossed the line when I can’t love some Arby’s curly fries or a late-night trip to Taco Bell.

With food snobbery out of the way, let’s talk about one of my go-to restaurants. You all frequently ask what a good, moderately-priced place in Chattanooga is to go when parents are visiting, and the answer is 1885 in St. Elmo. Located nearby and conveniently next to Clumpies for some post-dinner ice cream, 1885 is one of the city’s many updated Southern restaurants. The theme is overdone in this area (I mean really, fifteen revised Southern joints but not even one good Chinese place?), but this restaurant pulls off casual Southern effortlessly.

But now to the food. One of my favorite things to do at 1885 is to order a whole dinner comprised of appetizers. Their Empanadas are served piping hot, oozing with cheese, and a cooling dipping sauce. Alongside that, I order the house-made Pimento Cheese & Fried Okra. Now here I must digress to say that I am from DC and do not get the Southern obsession with slimy, stringy fried okra. However, this restaurant slices it into spears, rather than rounds, fries it to a crisp and pairs it with a generous amount of fresh sharp white cheddar pimento cheese, atop warm pita bread. Though I started out a skeptic, I now have to get it every time I go. If that pimento cheese is sounding good, it is also served with their fried green tomatoes.

One of the qualms I have with 1885 is their tagline, “Authentic coastal cuisine.” Though most menu items are delicious, there is such a wide variety that the slogan can be misleading. They go from traditional Southern dishes to empanadas to burgers to Cajun to large juicy steaks to crab cakes — it’s all over the map. If you’re feeling a splurge, their ribeye is twelve ounces of melt-in-your-mouth goodness, especially when paired with the sharp, whipped Feta Mashed Potatoes. If not this steak and various appetizers, I tend to order from their specials, which are normally top notch and a bit more creative than their normal menu items. I would say it is probably best to avoid the burgers, as they are nothing to write home about.

Though they do not take reservations and the wait time can be long, 1885 has a great casual atmosphere and is perfect for late dining with the family during graduation season. With outdoor seating and frequent live music, it is the perfect upscale casual mood for Sunday brunch or late summer evenings. But lest you think I am a food snob who only eats twenty-eight dollar ribeyes, I’m now going to open and enjoy a package of ramen, like the college student I am.