For many tourists, one of the first restaurants they notice downtown is 212 Market. Located just a block or so away from the Tennessee Aquarium, it has been inviting visitors to come sample their great food since 1992. But what you may not know is that nearly 80 percent of their customers are local, who have been coming back time and time again for the fantastic food and great service.
212 Market is family-owned by sisters Sally and Susan Moses, who operate as owner and chef, respectively. The two grew up in a military family, where they learned early on to eat what was available. The same mentality of locality, resourcefulness and hospitality carries into every aspect of the restaurant, and you can feel it as you walk through the door.
The restaurant’s décor is warm and simple, with sunlight pouring through the windows and wildflowers on the wooden tables. Sally greeted me with a friendly smile and informed me that this very newspaper was started in part by two of her previously-employed busboys.
This isn’t the only thing connecting 212 Market to the community: everything 212 Market serves is locally grown, from the homemade sorbet made with seasonal fruits to the locally brewed beers to the freshly-caught salmon. The chefs work with seasonal ingredients and that their specials change everyday. Everything is made from scratch, and any leftovers are donated to the Chattanooga Food Bank. Some recipes have stayed the same since day one, such as the seafood bisque, the menu item Sally believes everybody should try.
The wine list in 212 Market has earned the restaurant a place on the Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence winners’ list for nineteen years, boasting regional and national brands. Wine is also half-priced on Tuesdays.
The hard work and hospitality of 212 Market is evident in every bite. And speaking of hospitality, they now offer 25 percent off menu items along with some great drink specials every Sunday and Monday for those that work in the service industry. It’s their way of saying thanks to those that make all of Chattanooga’s restaurants great.