Road Trip: Monteagle Mountain
Halfway between Nashville and Chattanooga, atop Monteagle mountain, a vibrant food community awaits.
Monteagle Mountain is more than a town to just drive through en route to Chattanooga. Native Nashvillians have escaped to this “in the clouds” retreat for years. Stay for a while, and check out the invigorating hikes, caves, falls and bluffs, along with the vibrant local food scene. Great for a weekend getaway.
BLUE CHAIR CAFÉ & TAVERN
Its tag line is “where our community gathers” and Blue Chair has good reasons for folks to come together. Mornings, this is the place to drop in for a breakfast wrap or a Church Lady smoothie. At lunch, stop in for a bistro salad or thick sandwich, like the chunky chicken salad with grapes. In the evenings, Blue Chair takes on its tavern persona. Locals come for burgers—which achieved Best of Dixie status by Garden & Gun readers—and Jackalope beer.
Tuesdays are especially lively and well attended, alternating Trivia Night one week, then Community Poetry Night the next. While you’re there, be sure to buy a bag of Out of the Blue granola, made by the women of Blue Monarch. A residential therapeutic community, Blue Monarch is dedicated to helping these women and their children recover from abuse and addiction.
35 University Avenue, Sewanee, TN
931-598-5434 | thebluechair.com
Singaporean cuisine on the mountain, who knew? This surprising eatery serves heady dishes of the Far East as prepared by chef Irene Emory. Native Tennessean and architect Richard Emory met and married Irene while working in Singapore over 30 years ago; they moved to Sewanee so their son could attend Saint Andrews- Sewanee School. Together they opened the restaurant in 2013.
At Crossroads Café, Irene shares the confluence of culinary traditions—Chinese, Malay, Indian—that informs her culture and cooking. She crafts her sumptuous dumplings with a deft hand; she imbues her curries with her own red chili paste. You’ll take a welcome step off the “eaten path” with her assertively flavored dishes such as lemon-ginger butter capped pan-seared salmon, shrimp curry in coconut milk, and red-braised pork with bamboo shoots.
38 Ball Park Road Sewanee, TN
931-598-9988 | crossroadscafesewanee.com
It wouldn’t be a real visit to the mountain without a stop at this mainstay— called a Sewanee “institution”—although that word is misleading. The once ramshackle, now shored-up house started serving in 1974 and still retains an appealing “anti-institution” bohemian vibe. Folks love sandwiches from the grill (the Spicy Turkey Melt is a perennial must-have—or how about the Shenanawich?) along with a few cold brews. A breezy hang for students and the community alike, it was shuttered only once in its 42-year life. For more than a year, its closure was lamented until, with a little Indiegogo aid, Nelson Byrd and Bill Elder (Sewanee alum and Assembly lifer respectively) brought the place back—better, perhaps, than ever.
12595 Sollace M Freeman Hwy, Sewanee, TN | (931) 598-5774
MOONEY’S MARKET & EMPORIUM
In 2012, Joan Thomas brought new life to this long-abandoned shop, which started out as a general store during the Great Depression. Mooney’s is a kind of general store with a new-age spirit. Joan purveys natural and organic goods, locally made products, artisan crafts, yarns and knitting materials, consignment items, antiques, and holistic wellness supplies—as well as gives away abundant goodwill. Behind the market, there’s a retro travel trailer/food truck, dubbed The Crescent Café. Run by Chef Carol Manganaro throughout the summer, the little café offers the best health food on the mountain.
1265 W Main St Monteagle, TN | 931 924-7400
MOUNTAIN GOAT MARKET
Affectionately known as MGM, Mountain Goat Market is locally owned and operated by Eric and Spenser Duncan. The young couple purchased and renovated Ritchie’s Market, creating a grocery store, deli, and gift shop. Its roster of creative sandwiches, soups, and salads makes it a great place for lunch. MGM’s proximity to hiking and biking trails makes it the ideal spot to get your meal to go—or stop, eat, and renew after the trek. Luscious baked goodies, too.
109 E Main St, Monteagle, TN | 931-924-2727
SHAKERAG AT SEWANEE INN
Mercy, this place is the definition of deluxe. If you can’t stay at this elegant hotel on the university campus, at least a visit to its posh bar and lounge for a cocktail is in order. It’s the spot to either start a great evening or wrap one up. Sunday brunches are grand, with the Bloody Mary and Champagne bars making them just a bit grander. On occasion, Chef George Stevenson prepares special events, such as his Mercy of the Chef Dinner: a multi-coursed culinary adventure where (as the title states) you are at chef’s mercy—he doesn’t reveal his menu until you are seated.
1235 University Avenue, Sewanee, TN
931-598-3568 | sewanee-inn.com
Across the highway from Shenanigan’s is Chef Keri Downing’s inventive and award-winning farm-to-table restaurant. In 2010, she transformed what had been a broken-down laundromat into a contemporary fine dining destination. Moser designs her menus drawing inspiration from fresh produce, artisan cheeses, and sustainably raised meats that she sources from area farms. Dinner selections change seasonally, but you can expect a fork-tender filet with buttermilk mashed red potatoes, or heritage pork with beans, squash, coffee-cured bacon, and a honey-bourbon vinaigrette. This spring, look for an indulgent asparagus fondue with miniature oysters, crème fraiche, and caviar—which Moser debuted at her special Valentine’s dinner.
Until recently, IvyWild permitted BYOB with a stem fee. Now it’s garnering new raves for its cocktail bar; the libations sparked with the same kind of creativity as the food. Bourbon lovers, try the Annie Oakley: EH Taylor bourbon, amaretto, lemon with muddled blueberries, and oatmeal simple syrup.
36 Ball Park Road, Sewanee, TN
931-598-9000 | ivywildsewanee.com
Reservations: Accepted and Recommended