Today, one of my dear friends and I took a day trip because heck, we’ve been talking about day trips for ages and with things shifting in our lives, it was time to step back and just enjoy a day.
She picked me up at 9 and we were on our way! When we got close to Chattanooga, we looked up options on Yelp and found The Daily Ration. Oh my goodness this place was delicious! I ended up with sweet potato toast, a grapefruit mimosa and a few nibbles of my friend’s buttermilk pancake. (Remember my policy? Free food don’t count.)
How to choose vegan on a day out:
So looking over the menu at any restaurant, your goal is to figure out the most efficient way to avoid animal products, still get bang for your buck and eat something delicious. This morning, that meant:
Step 1. Eliminating options with meat.
Step 2. Eliminating options where egg was the main part of the dish.
Step 3. Eliminating lunch salads because I wanted some freaking brunch.
Step 4. Deciding what options left would be easiest to nix the dairy. A savory, garlic chickpea pancake sounded incredible, but it had beet creme fraiche…and that sounds like dairy that wouldn’t be easy to nix. Things with cheese topping though are easy to request with “no cheese.”
Step 5. Deciding between Avocado Toast and Sweet Potato Toast. I went with Sweet Potato since I’d never thought to try it before. And I ordered with a nice, “Hold the cheese!”
Our meal was mouth-watering. The glaze on over the greens on my toast was just sweet enough to contrast the light bitterness of the greens and the savory sweet potato mash on top of the bread. It was perfect with a little added salt and pepper.
The Non-Vegan’s Review of Daily Ration:
I can’t fully speak for my friend, but I know she wasn’t impressed by the Tempura Carrots in her Vegetable Hash bowl. They had little flavor and were still kind of crunchy even though they were breaded and fried. The rest of the bowl felt and tasted like something she could eat at home.
The pancake was delightful however and the bourbon maple syrup was to die for. I had a taste of that whiskey soaked sweetness and I’m definitely steeping my syrup in some hard liquor now.
And we both were more than satisfied with our mimosas. There was a healthy share of champagne and we cannot complain about that.
After that, we walked around the river for a couple hours weaving our way in and out of Chattanooga coffee spots and shops.
We accidentally got caught in rain since we thought it would only rain in Knoxville today. We were wrong and ended up looking like drowned rats. I compared my drippy eyeliner face to the Skillet music video from Winter Jam last night.
I need whatever water poof eyeliner my friend has.
We then headed over to the Dwell Hotel for an afternoon drink.
Above is part of the hotel lobby outside of the bar.
The Dwell’s Matilda Midnight bar was a picturesque, mid-century bar and of course, Michael Buble was crooning over the radio in the small space. Antiquated gold pendant lighting hung above us and we sat on aqua bar stools in front of a large art deco mirror. The wallpaper was a curious gold foil and jungle emerald green geode pattern that my friend couldn’t stop raving about.
I couldn’t tell you what is in my drink, but I picked up a King of Wands, which turns out is not vegan (honey), but I am not very good at following rules or paying attention.
It was a little too sweet for my taste and I wouldn’t recommend it. My friend’s smelled much lighter and earthy, but I didn’t give it a sip. I think the timeless and elegant atmosphere at Matilda Midnight makes it.
We then wandered about shopping and gathering creative inspiration from our favorite store, Anthropologie. Don’t be fooled – we can’t afford to shop there on the reg and we don’t.
Finally, we wrapped up our lovely day trip by grabbing sushi at a nearby Japanese place. I caved because I was freezing and really wanted soup with my roll. I got miso soup which has scallions in it. Not vegan and it wasn’t free.
Thoughts on Chattanooga
A lanky boy bouncing and jamming to his own beat on the sidewalk. Horse-drawn carriages meandering down the main street while small dogs flanked the carriage drivers’ sides. A rock-climbing wall that scales the outside of a parking garage. A presumptuous mid-century coffee shop full of chic and artsy looking folks.
Chattanooga feels the way Air for Free sounds. It’s bubbly, hopeful and lovely. It reminded me a good bit of Cincinnati, too, because either side of the river has buildings with unique architecture sprawling up the hills. You see cohesive strips of brick townhouses or stores that look a century old, and then across the street, there’s a new apartment building with sleek lines and grey tones. It’s an eclectic mix of southern folk, artists and outdoor enthusiasts. Chattanooga simply felt alive!
But that’s the lovely part of impressions. You can spend 1-4 days somewhere, and see a city or destination’s best parts. Begin to stay any longer, and you’ll start to become familiar. You start to see what the locals see and experience the genuine pace of life. Our bartender says Chattanooga operates like a town that looks like a city. Basically, ole’ Chatty is similar to Knoxville–it is an overgrown, small-town community. We got a hint of this when we walked around after getting drinks at Dwell and discovered half of our restaurant options were closed…on a Saturday night! Crazy.
Anyhoo, that was my day trip adventure to Chattanooga and my vegan eating while out and about. If you make a visit to Chattanooga, Daily Ration is delicious for non-vegan and vegan alike, but vegan options are definitely limited. Enjoy great drinks wherever you go, though!