"Where should we eat tonight?"
That difficult question should be a little easier to answer in August.
More than 30 area restaurants will participate in Chattanooga Magazine's Restaurant Week Aug. 1–7.
Area restaurants will offer special menus designed to highlight partnerships with local farms and feature seasonal ingredients.
Your job is simple: Be adventurous and eat.
Many of the participating restaurants have already submitted their menus here.
"The idea is that during the week, folks will be encouraged to try new restaurants they haven't been to," said Melissa Siragusa, Chattanooga Market's director of marketing and media relations. "The thought behind it is that all of our local chefs have been really good about training us to eat in season, so their menus will reflect that."
Restaurant Week, formerly hosted by Harvested Here with support from Gaining Ground, returns after a three-year break to a now completely changed culinary scene in Chattanooga.
Siragusa is helping organize Restaurant Week activities. The city's growing culinary scene is still a secret to outsiders, but that mindset is slowly starting to change, she said.
More high-quality restaurants have opened and local chefs have increased Chattanooga's profile to much more than a tourist destination. Now, people are visiting for the food.
"Whenever I have people come visit, they always comment on our amazing food scene," she said. "When you compare us to even Nashville or Birmingham … we are definitely up there."
Participating restaurants include local favorites such as Easy Bistro & Bar, Broad Street Grille, 212 Market, Public House and TerraMae.
Many relatively new restaurants are also joining the fray.
Those places include Stir, Mrs. B's Reggae Café, Main Street Meats, Il Primo, The Feed Co. Table & Tavern, Five, Embargo 62, Dish T' Pass, Two Ten Jack and Ceniza.
Although featured items will vary, the common theme among menus will be to highlight partnerships between area restaurants and local farms. Examples include Main Street Meats and their Pickett's trout ceviche, Five's smoked brisket using Main Street Meats products and Terra Nostra's "buffalo three ways" from Eagle's Rest Ranch in Flintstone, Georgia.
Broad Street Grille will offer a $35 four-course meal with items from Southeast Family Farms, Englewood Community Farms, Sandabama Farms, Sweet Grass Dairy and Clumpies Ice Cream.
More menus will be available as they are submitted to the website.
"We want you to go look at the menus and find a place you haven't been," Siragusa said. "Other cities like ours have been doing this for years, and it gets huge support."
The week of eating will lead up to the annual Five Star Food Fight at the Chattanooga Market Aug. 7 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Five local chefs will compete to create a unique dish while market patrons cheer them on.
A main ingredient—beef, chicken, pork or fish—will be announced at 11:30 a.m., and chefs will use produce available from market vendors to create their dishes.
At 2:30 p.m., a panel of expert judges will determine the winner. The winning chef will not only receive accolades and local recognition; they will also earn a ticket to the 2016 World Food Championships.
Participating chefs are Patrick Halloran (Hummingbird Pastaria), Michael Blanton (Five), Adam Roe (The Chattanoogan Hotel) and David Wright (The Flying Squirrel). Bald Headed Bistro chef Eric Fulkerson will seek to defend his 2015 title.
More information on Restaurant Week and the Five Star Food Fight can be found here.