Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter/ Chef Scott Eiselstein's Virginia oysters with charred jalapeno and apple mignonette, applewood-smoked candied bacon, fresh fennel, basil-infused oil and fresh cracked pink peppercorns is seen at STIR Restaurant on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019 in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Food trails are popping up everywhere, allowing travelers to experience the foods that places are known for, typically in off-the-beaten-path locales that give visitors a taste of local culture they won't find with a quick internet search. Here are a few of our favorite food-centric road trips within a few hours' drive from Chattanooga.
From down-home diners to hipster haunts to upscale foodie havens, Nashville boasts a wide variety of biscuit-focused restaurants. The 24-mile Nashville Biscuit Trail covers six of them spanning from southwest of the city up to East Nashville. Whether you plan a road trip dedicated to savoring the area's best biscuits or decide to hit a different featured spot each time you're up that way, Nashville's biscuit trail is a great way to explore the city's various neighborhoods while experiencing the local food culture.
Begin your journey in West Nashville at The Loveless Cafe, a local institution that's been drawing generations of biscuit-lovers since it opened as a motel back in the 1950s. In 2004 it expanded into a full-fledged restaurant, and it's the perfect way to start the trail and appreciate the simple goodness of a fluffy homestyle biscuit with a swab of butter or jam before you move along the trail to more creative interpretations of the South's favorite baked good.
At Biscuit Love, you'll find standard (but fantastically good) biscuits, but you'll also find "bonuts," doughnuts made with biscuit dough. The operation began as a food truck that traveled to Nashville-area farmers markets in an Airstream trailer, but proved so popular that it now has three locations, in the Gulch, Franklin and Hillsboro Village. Hey, you've got to love a place that serves brunch all week long, especially when bonuts are a signature dish.
Step up the fancy factor at Husk Nashville where, similar to its predecessor in Charleston, South Carolina, you'll find an elevated take on Southern comfort food served in a Victorian home. The menu is constantly changing. Peruse the day's menu to find dishes crafted with Tennessee ingredients, such as a plate of Benton's country ham served with a spring onion biscuit, dijonnaise and pickles.
Enjoy a biscuit sandwich in a nostalgic atmosphere at East Nashville's Sky Blue Cafe, or save up some room for an even more decadent biscuit 'wich at Barista Parlor in Gallatin.
Your final stop is Nashville Biscuit House, which has a drive-thru option if you're feeling sluggish from all those previously devoured delectables.
The new Lowcountry Oyster Trail, established in 2017, serves as a guide for the best places in South Carolina to slurp down the briny bivalve. Plan a trip during oyster season, which runs from November to March.
The trail has itineraries for different types of travelers — foodies, adventurers, history- and culture-seekers, and families — organized by the amount of time you have to spend.
Foodies with just a few hours are directed to Hilton Head Island's Hudson's Seafood House on the Docks, which pairs flights of single oysters with complementary craft brews or wine and also offers wild-caught oysters. The three-hour itinerary for adventurers includes a morning at ZipLine Hilton Head and Aerial Adventure, followed by lunch at Fishcamp on Broad Creek, Old Oyster Factory or Up the Creek.
Have a full day? Learn how to crab and throw a shrimp net at Coastal Discovery Museum, followed by lunch at Crazy Crab, jet-skiing with Commander Zodiac and dinner at Marlin Bayside Grill on Hilton Head Island.
While cheese isn't the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of North Carolina, fans of the delectable dairy product will find much to love in the western part of the state. The Western North Carolina Cheese Trail is centered on Asheville and winds its way through the surrounding areas with stops at numerous farms and creameries along the way. Many are by appointment only, so you'll need to make a few phone calls before embarking on your cheese adventure.
Tours by appointment Wednesday through Saturday. Store open Friday and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. 2203 Old Fort Road, Black Mountain; 828-669-0718; roundmountaincreamery.com
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Friday through Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. May through December. 4717 E. Fork Road, Marshall; 828-206-5509; spinningspidercreamery.com
Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. April through November; also by appointment or by chance. 1073 Old Yellow Branch Road, Robbinsville; 828-479-6710; yellowbranch.com
Daily from noon to 6 p.m. April through September; Thursday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. October through March. 9557 Linville Falls Hwy., Newland; 828-765-1400; linvillefallswinery.com
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