A stack of burning wood warms the oven at Iron Gate Pizzeria, turning thin disks of dough into golden-brown pizza crusts. These crispy pies showcase toppings that range from the traditional––mozzarella sliced fresh by hand––to the gourmet––gorgonzola cheese, artichoke hearts, and spicy cherry peppers. Shy pizzas fold up and hide both their toppings and innermost secrets inside the buttery shell of a calzone.
The chefs at Fuji Japanese Steak & Sushi Dalton love putting on a show, rousing flames and juggling knives over teppanyaki tables as they expertly grill hibachi steak. Cooks use spatulas to toss bite-size morsels into the mouths and baseball gloves of eager diners seated around the griddle, and a variety of signature rolls emerge from the sleek sushi bar. Colorful twigs rising out of floor vases and geisha dolls posing beside bottles of alcohol on the back bar complement the fun feel of the interactive dining experience. Tables without teppanyaki griddles are available on a separate, dimly lit side of the restaurant that improves the appearance of all fellow diners.
The sound of fire. The igniting exhalation before the steady breath of the flame sustains. The heat pulsing steadily outward from the steel grill—you feel it on your glowing face. But the chef looks cool. He’s a master, after all; a flat, metal spatula in one hand and an enormous, sharp knife in the other. Kani House’s teppanyaki tables are no strangers to the action of hibachi, where these chefs entertain their guests before plating seared steak and scallops alongside fresh, sautéed vegetables. The steady sushi masters may not share their compatriots’ outward exuberance, but their work is just as delicious. From behind their long bar, they assemble maki cylinders with tender cuts of fatty tuna and bright salmon, artfully arranging cuts of more than 50 specialty rolls in the shape of gentle caterpillars or fearsome members of the Japanese Diet. Bright bamboo panels and natural stone add to the vibrant ambiance, surrounding diners with dark-wood and nuanced accents that keep the focus on the beauty of excellent cuisine.
Caffeine Addicts quenches thirsts and sates scone seekers with a broad menu of gourmet coffees, lattes, baked goods, sandwiches, and more. Introduce shy taste buds to a genial roast-beef sandwich ($4.25), and tack on a homemade soup, pasta salad, or potato salad ($1.75 extra) for added appetizing atmosphere.
Finding Choo Choo Bar-B-Que is as simple as following the scent of hickory smoke. The trail ends at the small roadside eatery, which embraces the spirit of true, southern-style barbecue by slow-roasting pork, beef, and chicken. In addition to selling meats by the pound and ribs by the slab, Choo Choo Bar-B-Que also tempts diners with burgers, quarter-pound hot dogs, and a variety of classic side dishes, including fried okra and mashed potatoes.
With the Chattanooga location named one of Times Free Press's Best Happy Hour and Best Place to Have a Cold Beer in 2010, draughts and dishes flow freely at both Fanatics Sports Bar & Grill locations, each festooned with a slew of HDTVs, pool tables, and dart boards. Soak up suds with the menu's starters, such as monterey cheddar bacon cheese fries ($6.49), or peck at a platter of philly cheesesteak nachos ($7.99/$12.99). Tangy wing seasonings range from mild spice to insane heat ($7.49+), and buffalo shrimp offers a seaside alternative ($7.99). Bolster belly caverns with the quesadilla burger, a 1/4-pound burger with three types of cheese corralled between two tortillas and topped with salsa and sour cream ($8.99), or dive into the ultimate grilled cheese sandwich ($7.49).