If your server sees the slightest hint of a bare bowl, they’ll snatch up the current smorgasbord of food and replace it with fresher and hotter bowls of fried chicken, peach cobbler, fried okra, turnip greens, new potatoes, pinto beans, buttered yeast rolls, and coleslaw. The tea is syrupy sweet, the hospitality is as welcoming as a family reunion, and the tangy chow-chow relish compliments pretty much everything. But if that doesn’t turn you off of the place enough already, just wait until you’re forced to actually make small talk with complete strangers at the round Lazy Susan tables and endure the aftermath of your pants digging into your gut. The new potatoes soaked in a white cream sauce with fried chicken that could shut Paula Deen up? Don’t even bother.
2. The Blue Hole
Coming to the Blue Hole on a humid, 98° day to lay out on a rockbed before submerging in a natural pool of chilled water fed by the Tennessee mountains where you can see 14 feet to the bottom? Why, you’d have to be fool!
3. The Fairytale Caverns at Rock City
While technically not in Chattanooga, it might as well be. Here, you’ll experience blacklight depictions of grim and grisly fairytales in a damp cave while being stalked by mischievous mountain gnomes. It’s not that it’s the worst place you could go to in Chattanooga — we just don’t want you to know about it because it’s actually really freakin’ creepy. But, you know, you gotta see Rock City.
4. Signal Mountain’s Spaceship House
I mean, what’s so interesting about a house that looks as if a white UFO checked out of Roswell in the 1970s and settled on Signal Mountain? In other words, don’t bother with this spot unless you’re into vintage homes with drop-down airplane doors stretching into the interior of a place the Jetsons would have made their summer stay. Rumor has it that at one point, the original owners even had a stuffed panther coffee table, but who would really want to go find out if that’s true or not? Probably not you.
This is your place if you want to spend a candlelit Friday night in an hourly-rented motel bar. Have a seat beneath the 8-month-old Happy Birthday sign pinned against black and gold velvet wallpaper strung by Christmas lights and next to a jukebox loaded with Clarence Carter, Muddy Waters, Prince, Michael Jackson, The Temptations, and Aretha Franklin.
“Who’s driving?” Gerald, the one and only bartender, will say with one raised eyebrow, scoffing at your mumbles pertaining to the round of water he’ll serve without request whenever a Long Island Ice Tea is ordered. The cocktails are crafted as if the glasses are canvases for iconic works of art. The fries are crisp and dusted with creole seasoning. The honey mustard is homemade and served on a saucer atop a white doily. The White Russians could impress even The Dude himself.
Now clearly, your best bet would be to avoid Lamar’s altogether. Instead, head down Main Street where you can guzzle an overpriced cup of hunch punch, make awkward banter with your tipsy 8th grade art teacher who isn’t quite sure if she remembers you or not, and pose unknowingly in the background of countless filtered Instagram photos taken by clusters of people all wearing chacos.