Sluggo’s will make you re­think veg­e­tar­ian dishes

Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow - - DINING - BY CAMERON MOR­GAN STAFF WRITER Con­tact Cameron Mor­gan at cmor­gan@timesfreepress.com or call 423-757-6509.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a se­ries of re­views fea­tur­ing our staff’s fa­vorite places to dine. They are ei­ther go-to spots we fre­quent for good ser­vice and con­ver­sa­tion, the fa­vorite dishes we or­der over and over or the one-of-a-kind Chat­tanooga dives that make us love our Scenic City that much more.

When asked my fa­vorite place to eat in Chat­tanooga, Sluggo’s is at the top of the list — not only for its di­ver­sity of tasty eats but in the way it asks me to re­think veg­e­tar­ian cook­ing and get cre­ative with pair­ing fla­vors.

I be­came a veg­e­tar­ian al­most eight years ago on a whim, much to my par­ents’ frus­tra­tion when my food de­ci­sion be­came their chal­lenge. Now grown and liv­ing on my own, the chal­lenge re­mains to try to bal­ance con­ve­nience with taste and va­ri­ety. Sluggo’s cap­tures all those with its dense menu rang­ing from clas­sic sand­wiches gone veg­gie to more ad­ven­tur­ous bowls and takes on eth­nic dishes.

THE SPACE

When I f irst vis­ited Sluggo’s, I passed it. With only a wooden sign out­side, the res­tau­rant was hard to see wedged in the strip on Chero­kee Boule­vard. The space is hum­ble on the in­side, with five booths and a few ta­bles. Out­door din­ing is much more de­vel­oped, with a two-story walk-up in back and a few ta­bles out front.

While the in­te­rior is show­ing its use, the char­ac­ter of the place re­mains in­tact and ever trendy. Mu­rals out­side give Sluggo’s edge and ap­peal, and I rec­om­mend the used bookshelf for all ages, tastes and senses of hu­mor.

THE SER­VICE

Sluggo’s is in­de­pen­dent din­ing for the most part. You or­der at the front and then pick your ta­ble. Dishes are car­ried out to you, and there’s no need to bus your ta­ble (al­though I do rec­om­mend al fresco din­ers bring dishes in­side). Most of the drinks are self-serve. With its small in­te­rior, Sluggo’s is per­fect for date nights or catch­ing up with friends.

The wait staff is friendly, and while the front of the house is in­de­pen­dent, the staff does check in on you reg­u­larly for any last-minute splurges.

THE FOOD

My fa­vorite easy en­try to Sluggo’s for first-timers is the Gin­ger Curry Bowl ($9.50). Made with grilled tofu, sauteed cau­li­flower, onions, pep­pers, mush­rooms and car­rots in a yel­low gin­ger curry sauce, this has be­come a sta­ple for me be­cause the veg­eta­bles have bite. I’ve eaten my fair share of oily broc­coli at restau­rants whose veg­e­tar­ian op­tions be­gin and end at the sides menu. Sluggo’s makes cau­li­flower ex­cit­ing with its sub­tle kick from the gin­ger and per­fect tex­ture against softer pieces like the tofu and rice.

For those not con­vinced that veg­eta­bles are fill­ing, take the Cul­ture Club ( solo $ 7.99; plate $ 9.50) for lunch and get schooled. This triple- decker is an ode to veg­gie meats. I nor­mally pair it with a salad be­cause, while veg­gie, the sand­wich is heavy and needs some bal­ance when pair­ing in a plate.

My fa­vorite, though, must be the Pesto Porta­bello Que­sadilla ( solo $ 7. 25; plate $ 9.25). The que­sadilla is sim­ple, with only a few in­gre­di­ents, and yet, that makes it shine all the more. The mush­rooms taste truly meaty, and when you pair it with a side of pinto beans, I al­most for­get that Chat­tanooga is lack­ing in its Mex­i­can eater­ies.

So whether you keep it sim­ple and dip your feet in with an ap­pe­tizer of zuc- chini cakes ($7.25) or go for broke with the Mush­room Wal­nut Burger ($7.50 solo), Sluggo’s di­ver­sity can’t be beat. And if you’re veg­gie like I am, you’ll be pinch­ing your­self that you can eat ev­ery­thing on the menu.

THE VER­DICT

Sluggo’s cap­tures ev­ery­thing I love about be­ing a veg­e­tar­ian. De­spite hav­ing eaten around the menu, I’ve never had a bad meal, or left­overs for that mat­ter. It’s a per­fect date night and well worth fight­ing Fra­zier Av­enue traf­fic to get to.

Whether you keep it sim­ple and dip your feet in with an ap­pe­tizer of zuc­chini cakes or go for broke with the Mush­room Wal­nut Burger, Sluggo’s di­ver­sity can’t be beat.

PHOTO BY CAMERON MOR­GAN

The Gin­ger Curry Bowl is made with grilled tofu, sauteed cau­li­flower, onions, pep­pers, mush­rooms and car­rots in a yel­low gin­ger curry sauce.

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