How To Spend A Day In Black-Owned Chattanooga, Tennessee
By DeAnna Taylor
When you hear Tennessee, you normally only associate it with Nashville. However, the city of Chattanooga is just as charming, and it’s only a short 90-minute drive from Atlanta and Knoxville and about 2 hours from Nashville.
If you happen to make your way to Chattanooga, here is how you can spend your time supporting some of the city’s Black-owned businesses.
Start by getting an introduction to the city’s Black history and learn about some of its famous residents at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center. Located at 200 E. Martin Luther King Blvd., this museum pays homage to blues singer Bessie Smith, who is said to have gotten her career start in Chattanooga. You’ll also see photos of singer Usher Raymond and actor Samuel L. Jackson, who are both natives of the city.
Take a short Uber ride over to The Hunter Museum of American Art (10 Bluff Avenue), for an eye-opening exhibit titled ‘Blak Origin Moment’ by artist Noel W. Anderson. This exhibit, which will be on display until January 12, posits the question, when did you first know you were Black? Anderson uses imagery from television, FBI files, popular Black magazines like Ebony and Jet, and other media sources in an attempt to dissect the distortion of Black males in contemporary culture and media. If you don’t make it by January 12, there is an ongoing exhibit that features artwork of self-taught Black folk artists who have now been given the recognition they deserve.
If you’ve worked up an appetite, stop by one of many Black-owned restaurants across the city. If you love fried fish fresh out the grease, Uncle Larry’s Restaurant (736 E. Martin Luther King Blvd.) is your place. Owner Larry Torrence keeps your dining experience authentic to a neighborhood fish fry by serving meals on styrofoam plates.
If you’re in the mood for more traditional soul food, Davis Wayne’s (9454 Bradmore Ln.) will surely hit the spot. Choose your meat and sides and bring it all together with a piece of delicious homemade cornbread.
For the BBQ and smoked meat lovers, Chatterbox Cafe is where you’ll want to go. This mobile kitchen can mostly be found at 6801 Shallowford Rd. in Chattanooga. But, be sure to check his social media to find out the exact location just in case.
After you fuel up, take a tour of the city with Chattanooga Segway and Bike Tours. Owner Dianna Ward allows visitors (or residents who want to explore) the chance to see the area while having a little fun. If you’ve never used a segway, no worries. The team will take you through a lesson and ensure that you’re comfortable riding before you head out.
After your 2-hour tour and a quick rest at your hotel, get ready for an amazing food tour with Chatt Taste. Owned and curated by Chattanooga resident Briana Garza, these culinary tours are a way to get a glimpse into the city’s growing food scene. Transportation is provided during your five stops, thanks to partner company Chattywagon.
End your day by kicking back and listening to live music while networking with the city’s professional scene at the Chattanooga Cigar Club (1518 Market St.). Owner Darian Scott has created an atmosphere where people can come and sip on their favorite spirit while enjoying a cigar or a little hookah after a long day.
Related: A Day In Black-Owned Nashville
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel blogger, author, and writer. While Charlotte, NC (her hometown) is her base, she's always somewhere on a plane. Catch her on IG: @brokeandabroadlife.