Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Wendy’s: it’s tempting to stick to college classics, but try branching out by going to local Chattanooga restaurants. You’d be amazed at what quality of food you can find while working with a limited budget.


Yellow DeliSandwich with bowl of soup.

You’ll never find another restaurant quite like the Yellow DeliThe walls are painted with psychedelic murals that depict Woodstock, and the interior is covered in woodwork. The owners, Gene and Marsha Spriggs, wanted to give Chattanoogans a restaurant with healthy options. Their menu is relatively simple, seeing as they specialize in sandwiches and soups, but everything is delicious.


Woman picks up fried chickenChampy’s

You can’t live in Chattanooga without going to Champy’sIf you’re looking for quintessential southern food, you’ll find it here. Champy’s is especially known for their fried chicken, but they also serve fried shrimp, catfish, and even chicken livers. Everything’s fresh and made in the restaurant. There is no other fried chicken like Champy’s: their batter is a family recipe that’s over 40 years old.


CashewJackfruit bbq sandwich.

Chattanooga has several restaurants with vegan options, but Cashew is one of the few entirely vegan cafes. They have everything from vegan “meat”balls to donuts. One of their best dishes is the Jackfruit BBQ Sandwich. Even if you’re a strict carnivore, you’ll swear it’s as good as the real thing. Cashew is right by Coolidge Park, so there are tons of fun shops to walk through when you’re done with your meal.


Close up image of Gourmet PizzaLupi’s

Even if you think you know what gourmet pizza tastes like, you’ll be shocked at how good Lupi’s is. The decor alone is enough to make you want to go. It’s covered in large scale murals and colorful booths. There’s even a massive fake tree in the middle. You can order pizza by the slice or by the pie. There are so many different toppings to choose from that sometimes it’s best to just get several slices and try out different combinations.


Taco MamacitaMexican street corn on cob.

If you’re planning on going to Taco Mamacita for dinner, you better be prepared to fight half of Chattanooga for a table. A staple for every Chattanoogan, Taco Mamacita offers a good variety of tacos, enchiladas, nachos, salads and more. Everything on the menu is delicious, even down to the sides, which include sweet potato fries and mexican street corn. Even the pickiest eaters can find something to love on Taco Mamacita’s menu.


Text by Katherine Polcari