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Lunch at Taco Mamacita

As a buyer’s agent at Pearl & Associates Real Estate, Stevie Corbitt doesn’t have much time for long, relaxing lunches during the busy week. She described her recent experience having lunch at Taco Mamacita on North Market Street for the NoogaLife. 

Sitting on the warm patio of Taco Mamacita is a great way to really soak up the atmosphere of the North Shore, especially during rush hour on a weekday. You can hear the great playlist on in the background of the restaurant, along with the buzz of the city. I got to experience this first-hand on my first lunch trip to Taco Mamacita!

My mother and I decided on this restaurant because neither of us had eaten there before. The staff was very friendly, and although they were busy, our food came out in a timely fashion. We decided to go with a salsa sampler (the red salsa is the best!) and chips. It’s hard not fill up on appetizers, but when my enchilada came out I couldn’t help but dig in. Overall, it was great for lunch, although I did leave extremely full!

gringo enchiliada from taco mamacita

 

Eating at Elemental

 

This post was written by Dava Stewart and Laura Howard, who are friends, long-time Chattanooga residents, and fans of delicious food. They visited Elemental on Tuesday, July 8.

Sometimes things become trendy because they are good. One of those things is the locavore, or farm to table movement. If you’ve never eaten a Elemental Salad strawberry, still warm from the sun, while standing outside, you’ve missed a miracle. The fresher the food, the better, we say! Elemental, on the North Shore is a restaurant that provides the freshest food possible by working with local suppliers.

Three of us–Dava, Laura, and Laura’s husband Carey–had dinner there on a Tuesday night, not too long ago. It was a belated birthday dinner celebration for Laura. Eating at Elemental is, for us, a special treat rather than a regular Tuesday night dinner. It’s a little pricier than many other options. Laura’s birthday seemed like a good reason for a special treat!

We started with drinks—Sparkling Lemonade (an alcoholic and non-alcoholic version) and a Moscow Mule, both from their nicely equipped bar. Not only do they have numerous cocktail, wine, and beer selections, but the local flavor is also a feature of their drinks, including Pure Sodaworks, Chattanooga Brewing Company, and Chattanooga Whiskey.

Next, we ordered a salad to share–grilled watermelon, beet, brussel leaves, fresh mint, and housemade ricotta. We all three shared the salad, and it was delicious. Grilled watermelon is unusual, but very tasty — and went well with the sparkling lemonade. It was the perfect salad to complement the hot, humid summer.

For our entrees, Carey had the burger with homemade pickles, a slice of local tomato, and a side of roasted red potatoes. He ate it all and made “mmmymmgoood” sounds while he ate, so we assume it was a delicious burger. Laura had a dish she has eaten often here–the seared chicken breast with a myriad of in-season, local vegetables. It was a substantial portion of food that she tried to share with Dava and Carey, who were both enjoying their own meals too much to take her up on the offer.

Finally, Dava ordered the Farmers’ Market Vegetable Plate.There was a delicious grit and cheese fritter, mashed celery root, creamed corn, creamed sweet potato, spicy greens, and grilled squash. The presentation was beautiful, but paled compared to the taste!  Laura and Carey always joke that when they need to veggie-load, they go to Elemental for the vegetable plate. After eating it all, Dava decided the only veggie plate that is better is one with food from her own garden.

We skipped dessert this particular evening — mostly because we were all absolutely stuffed.

It is perplexing why Elemental has struggled to find it footing in Chattanooga. It’s in a fantastic location — Laura and Carey walked to Whole Foods to do their grocery shopping after dinner — and the atmosphere is comfortable. People who love great local food and a casual atmosphere should give it a try. Eating at Elemental supports the Chattanooga economy and the local food shed, but most importantly, they serve excellent food.

 

#LovingtheLocal with Southern Star Restaurant

If you like meatloaf, chicken and dumplings, pork chops, and other delectable southern food, you need to visit the Southern Star. With two SouthernStarlocations — one on the Southside, and one on Signal Mountain — the Southern Star makes it easy for Chattanoogans to get a fix of southern cooked goodness.

Operated by Rick and Nancy Adams, the Southern Star offers up the best kind of comfort food. Menu items are all house-made, and taste like someone’s grandmother is doing the cooking. One of the things that is special about the Southern Star is the carry-out convenience they offer. You can purchase a fully-cooked entree and side items to take home and reheat, in sizes that vary from a single portion to a family-sized serving.

The Broad Street location is a full-service restaurant, with a smaller carry-out section, while the Signal Mountain location is more of a carry-out shop, where you can have items heated if you want to eat in. Both locations offer special orders and catering, whether you want to buy a whole cake, or have a black-tie event catered.

Whichever location you visit, do yourself a favor and have dessert! Cakes, pies, and perfect banana pudding keep customers coming back for more. But, it’s not all sweets and fried foods — the deli cases have plenty of fresh, healthy options. The kale salad, and the quinoa salad are both low in calories but extremely flavorful.

 

 

 

#LovingtheLocal: The Longhorn Restaurant

Not too long ago, our friend @ModernSauce posted a photo of The Longhorn Restaurant on Instagram. That got us thinking about how many awesome local businesses there are in Chattanooga, and how they get overshadowed by the chains so often. Everyone knows about The Waffle House, right? But not nearly so many people know about The Longhorn Restaurant. You’ve probably driven past it on North Market:

Longhorn sign (correct)

photo credit: ModernSauce

 

 

You may be wondering what’s so great about The Longhorn? Here are just a few things we love about it:

  • The look — the vintage decor sets the mood for an excellent diner meal.
  • The food — it’s just GOOD.
  • The service — friendly and thorough.

The Longhorn is only open for breakfast and lunch, and is located at 129 North Market Street — in the same plaza as Taco Mamacita and ClearSpring Yoga. You can’t miss the oddly shaped building.

In an effort to share some of our other favorite local spots, we are starting a new series called Loving the Local. Each week, we’ll feature a business, organization, or citizen who helps make Chattanooga a great place to live.  Our friends at Pearl & Associates Real Estate have decided to show some local love, too. They are giving away a $25 gift certificate to The Longhorn Restaurant (plenty for breakfast for two!) on May 1. There are two ways to enter the drawing:

1. Subscribe to the Pearl & Associates newsletter. You’ll get emails once or twice a month about all sorts of local real estate topics — how to sell a home faster, what kind of credit score and savings you need to buy a home, special programs, taking care of your house, and much more.

2. If you are already subscribed, you can still enter the drawing. Simply forward the Pearl & Associates newsletter to a friend.

Do you have a favorite locally owned business that you’d like us to feature? Let us know in the comments!

Milk and Honey hits the spot

  Milk and Honey is a brand new addition to the northshore area. Today I decided to take my daughter (Lil) out for a mother/daughter lunchdate and we chose the milk and honey gelato bar. It was a hit! We both loved the funky atmosphere and Lil really loved that she could sit outside and still see inside, at the indoor/outdoor counter seating.  Aside from the fact that I wanted to spend time with my sweet daughter I also wanted to check out two of the new flavors of gelato. The Ecto-Cooler and Butterbeer flavors. First let me say that if you grew up in the 80’s/90’s you are most likely familiar with the ghost buster’s cartoon but in case you are not, watch this clip: who ya gonna call Pure awesomeness, right?! Well with the spawn of that awesome show came the drink ecto-cooler by Hi-C. This and ninja turtle pies by hostess were a huge thing for our generation. When I heard that milk and honey had the ecto-cooler flavor, it I had to try it, and it did not FAIL! I loved the flavor, it was dead on, the only thing that would have made it a bit better was if it had been a brighter shade of green. Nothing says you are drinking delicious slime like that eye punching shade of chemical green. Even without the correct hue, the flavor was spot on and I was taken back to my childhood.

The second flavor that I was there to try was Butterbeer! I am a harry potter fan, and when I say that I am not talking about one of those people who saw some of the movies and says they are a fan. I am a hardcore harry potter nerd complete with: full ravenclaw house costume and authentic robes, a remembral, a monster book of  monsters that actually bites, an alivan’s wand and a wand from Ollivander’s at harry potter world in Universal Studios Florida. I even have a beautiful trophy that proudly states that I won the costume contest at the triwizard ball this past year, I also have a deathly hallows tattoo and of course have read the books and watched the movies all too many times to count. With all of that being said, I am an extremely harsh judge of Harry Potter themed foods. I loved the butterbeer at HP world but not from the cart, the butterbeer inside the Hogshead brewery was perfection and I was transported into the books. So needless to say I was more than skeptical when I sat down to try my butterbeer gelato. I apprehensively took a bite, then another and another and soon the cup was empty. I am still not sure how that happened, but I blame the nargles. No seriously though it was fantastic! I worry about writing this and sending it into the world for fear that when I go in tomorrow they will be out of the amazing butterbeer gelato. Aside from the wonderful gelato  and the awesome atmosphere the service was impeccable. Lil and I both enjoyed our gelato and had a fun time. Don’t walk, run to this place! Seriously before the nargles eat the gelato….

The domestic fruit loop.

The interior of  Milk and Honey

The interior of Milk and Honey

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Review of the Yellow Deli

yellow deliThe Domestic Fruitloop, a local Nooga reader,  reviews the Yellow Deli.

I lead a very hectic life. I get up at 4:30 am and go to bootcamp, then I come home, make breakfast, wake my daughter up and help her get ready for school. After I drop her off at school I usually need to get back home to do things. However there are certain days where I get a bit of quiet time. I relish this time and my favorite place to spend it is at the yellow deli. The yellow deli is a quaint restaurant off of Mccallie. When you walk in you are greeted warmly but not aggressively by the waiters. The decor harkens back to a fairy cottage from a tale in my childhood and the light tinkling music that plays puts me in an instant state of peace. After I sit down I order a Hibiscus cooler. It is the best drink, a fruit punch of sorts but with the perfect mix of sweet and tart. When we moved here 6 years ago I still ate gluten (I didn’t know that it was the reason that I was sick) so when we would go to the yellow deli I loved to order the yellow submarine. It’s a vegetarian sandwich that changes between three different spreads daily. My favorite of the spreads is the hummus. Later I really enjoyed getting a turkey and provolone with avocado on an onion roll.  This sandwich would come to the table in all it;’s sheer perfection. It was melty and warm and cheesy and delicious. Now that I eat gluten free, it’s difficult for me to find things to eat at certain restaurants. However, at the yellow deli i get the cranberry cashew salad and it is divine. The greens are crisp and dark, the radishes and carrots are sliced so thinly that they really even out the overall texture of the salad, which also boasts large chunks of white cheddar, dried cranberries and spiced cashews. The dressing is a sweet balsamic that is house made. While I love the food, what really makes this place a special retreat for me, is the atmosphere. It’s calming, relaxing and inviting. After I have finished a meal there I will sometimes simply sit and read. I never feel rushed or hurried and I get to enjoy a simple pleasure that normally as a busy mom I would not. The yellow deli is a calm oasis in the midst of a hectic city and I would highly recommend it for a nice quiet meal.

Where to Buy Food in Nooga

We all love to eat out, but for most of us, eating in is necessary – and fun – too. This is a guide to where you can buy food in Chattanooga, plus a couple of places that can help you sharpen up your cooking skills, if that is something you desire to do!

Grocery Stores

As in most cities, there are several grocery store chains represented in Chattanooga. Some are local, some are regional, and some are national.

Wal-Mart

As a grocer, Wal-Mart has made some progress in the last few years, by making an effort to stock at least some locally grown products. While you could never describe Wal-Mart as gourmet, it would certainly be fair to say the chain is economical. Plus, if you need to purchase other household supplies, Wal-Mart does offer one-stop-shopping appeal.

Food Lion

A regional chain, Food Lion seems to have a shrinking presence in the Chattanooga market. However, there are still a few stores left in the area, in East Ridge, Chickamauga, and Cleveland. Food Lion offers all the benefits of a traditional grocer.

Publix

As of this writing, there are three Publix stores in or near Chattanooga: in Hixson, East Brainerd, and Ooltewah. Discussions are underway regarding a new Publix downtown. Publix is sometimes described as a more “upscale” grocer, but they still offer the benefits of a traditional grocer.

BI-LO

Another regional store, several BI-LO stores in Chattanooga have recently been remodeled. BI-LO is probably the chain with the most locations in town with 10 stores within 15 miles of the city.

Pruett’s Signal Mountain Market

At one time there were Pruett’s Foods all over the city, but the chain is now a chain of one. But, it’s a good one. Providing everything you expect in a grocery store, plus a deli, and an impressive beer selection, Pruett’s is convenient for mountain residents.

Greenlife/Whole Foods

Greenlife was a locally owned store for many years, but is now a part of Whole Foods. Besides offering a great selection of local produce, and organic foods, Greenlife has one of the best food bars in town. The balcony is nice, too.

The Fresh Market

If you are looking for a specialty item, then you should visit a specialty store, and that is exactly what The Fresh Market is. You will find a butcher, a fish market, and a bakery, as well as a good selection of natural and specialty items. The only location in Chattanooga currently is on Gunbarrel Road.

Earthfare

Also on Gunbarrel Road, Earthfare is offers an excellent combination of traditional grocer, natural foods, and specialty items. They also sometimes offer fantastic deals and coupons on Twitter and other social media sites.

Warehouse Clubs

If you are looking to buy larger quantities, you will be happy to know that both Sam’s Club and Costco have stores in Chattanooga. So, if you are throwing a party or simply want to stock up, those two might be best for you.

Farmers Markets

If you prefer to spend your food dollars as locally as possible, you are in luck! Chattanooga is a veritable farmers market shopper’s paradise, especially during the spring, summer, and fall. You can find a complete list of local markets at on the Gaining Ground web site, but here are a few of our favorites:

The Chattanooga Market 

Held each Sunday from April until December, this is by far the largest local food market in town, and you will find considerably more than food. Vendors also offer flowers, crafts, art, and entertainment. If you are shopping for food, plan to arrive early. It gets gone pretty quickly!

The Main Street Farmers Market

This is a producers-only market, so when you buy food here, you are buying it from the person who grew it, baked it, or otherwise prepared it. The market is held each Wednesday, from 4-6pm on Main Street. This is where you go if you are interested in joining a CSA program, or you are looking for a herd share for local dairy. The vendors are friendly, knowledgeable, and generally willing to chat and answer questions.

The Brainerd Farmers Market

Each Saturday from 10am to 1pm, the parking lot of the Grace Episcopal Church in Brainerd is transformed into a farmers market. The Brainerd Market operates in summer and fall, and is a fun way to experience a wonderful sense of community spirit.

Of course there are lots of other places that you can get food – from Target to the corner gas station. These are just a few of our favorite places. Let us know where you like to shop in the comments!

Authentic Latin food in Nooga

Are you looking for some authentic Latin food? Then look now further than Conga Latin Food. Located in the South side district at 207 E. Main Street, Conga Latin Food has some uniquely Latin food.

Walking into the restaurant I was greeted by the friendly staff and the brightly colored walls, and playing in the background was Cecilia Cruz, a classic Cuban favorite. Once I heard the music I was convinced this was authentic! It is a seat yourself place so I found my seat and the waitress came over with plantain chips and three sauces for the chips, a mango flavor, salsa verde, and a onion and cilitrano based sauce. YUM!

The menu is small but all Latin. When I saw the empandas I knew it was a must have for me. Guava empandas con queso are a favorite and I was hoping these would hold up, and I was not disappointed. I have been back three times all ready in the past two weeks. Once, just getting some to go.

The menu also includes Salvadorian pupusas which I must say are very good, along with black beans, yucca, tostanes and some other traditional Latin Food. If you are looking for authentic Latin food this is the place for you!