When discussing the atmosphere at Meo Mio's Cajun Spirits, owner Brian Sabo told reporters from Nooga.com, "I want people to forget they are in Chattanooga, forget their worries." To that end, his restaurant abounds with New Orleans–style decorations, from the glittery masks that adorn the wood-paneled walls to the colorful Mardi Gras beads dangling from servers’ necks. Yet the roots of this Cajun feel grow within the kitchen, where chefs fold fresh seafood and spices imported from New Orleans into creamy pastas and po’ boys. These grill masters also sizzle up fine cuts of aged steak and fill buckets with boiled shrimp, fried oysters, and seasoned catfish until they overflow.
Back out in the double-tiered dining area, guests linger over long island iced teas and final bites of bread pudding beneath the glow of a towering television screen and the gaze of a 2,600-pound clay sculpture of Louis Armstrong. Live local bands toot horns and strum their guitars on the restaurant's stage, conjuring jazzy festivity by beckoning feet to twirl across the dance floor. Throughout the year, the restaurant also hosts special events, from costume parties on Halloween to ceremonial beard trimmings on the first day of spring.
Multiplatinum-selling and multiple-Grammy-winning quartet Third Day’s stirring Southern rock thrills multitudes on its Make Your Move spring tour. One of the most popular Christian bands of the A.D. era, Third Day has moved millions of fans with hits such as “Cry Out to Jesus” and “Love Song,” as well as hundreds of tumbleweeds with its tour bus. With a sound that evokes Lynyrd Skynyrd in its Sunday best, the band tenderly testifies while rocking through a hook-laden marathon live show.
Since opening its doors in 1985, the recently renovated Comedy Catch has induced giggle fits with performances helmed by famed jesters such as Bobcat Goldthwait and Jerry Seinfeld. The main showroom comfortably seats up to 250 guests, with a crystal-clear audio setup preventing punch lines from getting lost in the laughter. Downstairs, the Giggles Grill serves a savory menu of steak, fried shrimp, and tall drinks to replenish calories lost chuckling or trying to huff, puff, and blow the venue’s brick walls down.
Deemed the "Best Night Out" in Chattanooga by US Travel and Attractions for two years in a row, Vaudeville Cafe is an entertainment chameleon. On some nights, the tables at the spacious dinner theater are packed with families savoring Italian feasts as they try to solve original murder mysteries. Weekend nights have a more adult slant as headlining standup comedians seen on HBO and Comedy Central garner guffaws while guests enjoy a full bar of cocktails, wine, and frozen specialty drinks. But regardless of the event, every evening brims with jolly vaudeville spirit, and every seat in the house offers stellar views of the stage and napping spotlight operator.
Mr. & Mrs. M sets Macbeth and his lady free from the bonds of history by transforming Shakespeare’s power-hungry power couple into noir characters complete with black bow ties and blood-red lipstick. Under Scott Dunlap’s direction, the conniving twosome weave through murderous plans like characters from Fritz Lang or Orson Welles while starkly lit and backed by a dissonant soundtrack of techno and swing music. Eerie visuals inspired by the films of Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch flesh out the production, which was inspired in part by ghosts spotted in Chattanooga Theatre Centre’s historic corridors. Timeless themes trail through the juxtaposition of several different eras, including morality's demands on the conscience, the terror of embracing one's free will, and the eternal search for a product to keep a bloodstained dress from turning all the laundry pink.
The community-focused Theatre in the Square fetes playhouse enthusiasts with riveting tales from classic, modern, and local scribes. Bursting onto the 225-seat MainStage is The Little Foxes, a familial yarn about trickery surrounding a husband's fortune. Recommended for ages 14 and up, the story brims with deceit, humor, and the complicated trappings of family life, especially for siblings that have trouble sharing stage props. Meanwhile, Circle Mirror Transformation examines the inner workings of acting class participants as they delve into their created characters while excavating the artifacts of their own personality. An off-Broadway hit, the play provides theater-goers with an amusing peek into the intricately convoluted minds of scene crafters.
The gorgeously renovated Strand Theatre is decorated in gold and crimson, with old-fashioned seats, a lobby chandelier, and retro plaster walls reminiscent of classic 1940s Hollywood theaters. Strand welcomes guests with its lit-up marquee, recalling the excitement our ancestors felt back when Chaplin vs. Kong was the biggest event of the year. Arrive 30 minutes prior to the 8 p.m. showtime for a pre-show organ sing-along, rousing the spirit of the silver screen. It's the ideal setting to see Tim Curry fight drag sharks.